How Are Negotiation and Leadership Related?

This is a guest post by Steve Brown. Steve’s writing on various sites focuses on business related topics. Also he writes for the site The Gap Partnership. Apart from his writing, he loves to swim and hike whenever he gets time.

There’s a lot more to being a good leader than just being smart. People who have studied great leaders have identified certain traits that are common to these people, whether they are in business, politics, or any other field.  Some of these same leadership traits can also be useful in a negotiation.  Here are some of the ways in which wise leadership and wise negotiation converge.


A sense of fairness

A strong leader always treats people fairly, including employees, customers, and everyone else. If employees feel that they are being treated unfairly, it can create resentment and undermine the leadership. Ensuring that everyone is treated honestly and fairly engenders a greater sense of respect and loyalty; thus, this is an important trait of wise leaders.

This same sense of fairness is beneficial in negotiations as well. It can help you to establish trust during the process so that you can work with the other person to achieve an outcome that is fair to all parties.


Look for mutual benefit

Great leaders look for solutions that can satisfy everyone’s interests not just their own. By ensuring that the needs of customers, employees, shareholders, and others are considered, it creates an environment where everyone can be pleased with the decisions and the results.  In a negotiation, looking for this mutual benefit can change the dynamic from an adversarial one to a situation where the parties are looking for shared solutions that benefit both of them.  This is how you can achieve a win-win result that both parties are happy with.


Emotional detachment

Sometimes making a good decision means detaching the emotions so that you can weigh your options dispassionately and logically.  Good leaders know how to do this so that they can make wise decisions.  In negotiation, you also need to avoid becoming overly attached to a particular plan or outcome.  Instead, keep an open mind and be willing to consider suggestions and alternatives.  Bringing too many emotions into the process can cloud the issues and lead to poor decisions.



Have a higher purpose

Great leaders effectively communicate their higher purpose to their employees or followers.  This can motivate people, inspire them, and get everyone working together towards a shared vision and desired outcome.  In a negotiation, this means looking beyond the nitty gritty details of the deal and keeping a focus on the higher purpose.  What is the overall goal?  Keeping this in mind can make it easier for people to accept a detail here or there that does not work out the way they had hoped.


Take a long term view

Wise leaders keep the long term health and growth of their companies in mind so that they can avoid making short term decisions which could be detrimental to the long term success of the business.  Similarly, in a negotiation, it can be wise to look at the longer term view.  This may not be the only time you meet this person or negotiate with this company.  This could become an ongoing business relationship, so it pays to think about that rather than taking a cut-throat approach to the negotiation.



Wise leaders are wise negotiators

A smart leader understands that there’s value in the big picture; ergo he knows how to look after something worth attaining.  Negotiating a good deal is all about preparation. As long as you really know your numbers, everything should be fine.  A leader cannot afford to enter a negotiation without being prepared because she must be an example to her team.  Confidence goes hand in hand with research in business.  You cannot have one without the other, especially if you’re bargaining.

Simply put, confidence is useless if you haven’t done your homework.  Skilled leaders are well-aware that poise is not enough to win a negotiation.  You have to be wise and detach yourself from emotions that can harm you and your business.  Don’t allow an opponent to intimidate you in any way, and always remember that facts will always be more powerful than words. Let the other side speak nonsense and use their allegations to build a case.  Negotiate what’s best for you and be ready to leave if there’s literally no chance of reaching a mutual agreement.



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