Why leadership is all about using negotiations effectively

Why leadership is all about using negotiations effectively

Being a leader means having to manage various stakeholders — a board expecting innovation and strong financial performance; teams expecting good quality of work and working conditions; partners expecting the best growth opportunities; and customers expecting excellence in products and services.

Negotiating skills can play a key role in performing this delicate stakeholder balancing act well.

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Experts say we are always negotiating in life. “Aren’t we all negotiating all the time?” asks Ranjini Chakraborty, People Leader with Giesecke + Devrient Mobile Security India PvT Ltd. “From a child, homemaker, retail vendor, team member, client et al. In each role, the skill of negotiation comes to play for a desired outcome.”

Sometimes these outcomes are to get things done at the workplace. So the skill set might need some tweaks to fit those needs. “I view negotiations as an integral part of the HR role as well, which actually helps in shaping people-leaders into change-agents. In my opinion, it is a core competence of the integrative model of HR competencies. It is specifically needed for business management. Some important applications of negotiations are while handling retrenchment cases and salary negotiations while hiring. Even at the time of budget sessions and resource allocations, negotiations are used,” says Chakraborty.

What does it mean for leaders?

This is one talent that can encompass many desirable leadership traits, says Nirupama VG, Founder of AdAstra Consultants. “In my years of working in the recruiting industry, I’ve discovered that negotiation is key in leadership, transcending mere deal-making. It’s about critical thinking, communication and being prepared for leadership challenges. Good negotiation skills don’t just aid in making deals; they bolster decision-making and help leaders articulate their vision with clarity.”

The importance of negotiation gets highlighted when a person is able to handle conflicts skillfully by preserving harmony and relationships. “Leadership involves constant negotiation, each interaction an opportunity to influence and inspire. This skill is universal, and valuable at all levels and sectors, evolving with your role. Throughout my journey, negotiation has been a vital tool in guiding my firm and fostering enduring connections. It’s an indispensable skill for leaders, one that can be refined with dedication and practice,” she adds.

How does a leader sharpen this skill?
A good negotiator always looks for common ground and understands the needs of the other party, says Chakraborty. Every point needs to be logical and supported with facts and data.

She clarifies, “The negotiator must be a great listener and should not get defensive, ever. In fact, he or she should ask questions to understand other people’s thoughts and perspectives. Everybody wants to win a conversation but that is not possible. It has to be a win-win situation and not win-lose. The true role of a negotiator is to get to the desired result, though the outcome can be anything.”

Chakraborty says a leader can enhance negotiation skills by:

  1. Assessing the readiness for change and identifying appropriate change strategies
  2. Applying organisational development principles
  3. Using consensus building and consultations
  4. Promoting integrity and ethical behaviour

How hard is it to build negotiation skills?
Every person would be exposed to negotiations but some may be better than others at wielding it at the workplace. Others can develop it.

“Negotiation skills are inherent in every individual,” says Uday Chawla, Managing Partner of TRANSEARCH India Office. “However, while some may possess a natural aptitude for negotiation, it is essential to recognise that these skills can be cultivated and refined through coaching and structured learning. Negotiation skills are a fundamental asset for CXOs and leaders at all levels. The ability to continuously adapt, maintain a win-win mindset, actively listen and be well-prepared are crucial components of effective negotiation. CXOs should embrace a commitment to ethical negotiations and strive for ongoing improvement to become proficient negotiators in the ever-evolving business world.”

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Author: Shirley