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Why Negotiation Skills Are Important for Leaders

  • By Diana Kawarsky, MA, CCP
  • December 13, 2022

Negotiation Skills

Negotiation skills are one of the most important soft skills that a leader can possess. To succeed in business, it is essential to negotiate effectively with clients, employees, and other stakeholders. Negotiation involves compromise—it is not about getting everything you want. Leaders who can successfully negotiate are more likely to reach agreements that benefit everyone involved. In this article, we will discuss why negotiation skills are so important for leaders and how they can improve their negotiation skills.

What Is Business Negotiation?

Business negotiation is one of the most efficient methods of achieving success in the business world. It is the process of arriving at a mutually beneficial agreement between two or more parties to ensure a favourable outcome for all. During negotiations, both sides identify common points of interest and work towards solutions that benefit everyone.

Business negotiations are essential when it comes to finalizing contracts, setting prices and terms of an agreement, engaging in dispute resolution, or entering into major commercial deals. Negotiations also help parties build trust and better understand each other, often leading to stronger future agreements and partnerships.

Organizations need leaders capable of identifying win-win solutions through compromise, building consensus, and developing mutually beneficial agreements. For individual leaders, negotiation helps them advance their careers by interacting with other leaders in their field and formulating beneficial deals that can help propel them forward. 

What Challenges Do Leaders Face When Negotiating?

Leaders must possess mental strength and strong interpersonal skills to engage in successful negotiation. A successful negotiation requires both parties to be open-minded and understanding. One of the main challenges leaders face when negotiating is finding mutually beneficial solutions that satisfy both parties.

Leaders must be able to consider all options quickly and identify acceptable solutions that are not overly idealistic or unrealistic. Moreover, time constraints may add an extra layer of complexity to the process. In addition, negotiations can be particularly challenging if both parties are forced to deal with unforeseen circumstances.

Ultimately, how a leader navigates these issues will highly determine how successful their negotiation is. 

What Mistakes Should Leaders Avoid During Negotiations?

It’s not uncommon for inexperienced entrepreneurs and businesspeople to make critical missteps during the negotiation process that can put their deal at risk. As a leader, make sure to avoid these mistakes:

  • Not adequately preparing before meetings
  • Not anticipating all potential obstacles
  • Failing to listen to what the other party has to say
  • Displaying behaviour that indicates a lack of respect
  • Being overly aggressive in tough talks
  • Getting too emotionally involved in the conversation
  • Speaking from an overly broad viewpoint
  • Having unrealistic expectations about the negotiations

What Strategies Can Leaders Use to Improve Their Negotiation Skills? 

Developing strong negotiation skills is an essential asset for any leader. With better negotiation tactics, you can attain advantageous outcomes not only in business settings but also in day-to-day interpersonal exchanges. Below are a few effective strategies leaders can adopt to improve their negotiation abilities.

Be Prepared and Plan Ahead

Leaders interested in improving their negotiation skills should focus on preparation and planning to ensure the best results. Through careful research, leaders should come to the table ready with solid facts and information to assertively express what they want while respecting the other party’s needs. Doing thorough research on negotiation and the parties involved can also help foster confidence. 

Learn to Delegate

Delegating tasks effectively is a key ingredient of a successful leader. Negotiations require effective communication, trust and quick decision-making, so it is imperative that leaders develop strategies that help them delegate tasks efficiently. Leaders should be patient when delegating tasks and allow team members the freedom to learn from experience, which in turn will improve the negotiation skills of all involved. 

Avoid Conflicts

Even the smallest of conflicts can result in an impasse and make it difficult for a successful resolution. When conflicts arise, leaders should stay as calm and diplomatic as possible, keeping the conversation productive by finding common ground and creative solutions to reach an agreement. Leaders must be measured and mindful in their approach and ensure they prepare thoroughly before engaging in a negotiation. 

Stay Ready with Alternatives 

When it comes to negotiating, having alternative solutions will give leaders the edge they need to secure successful outcomes. Leaders should be equipped with alternative solutions so that another outcome can still bring value, even when their desired solution isn’t implemented. Alternative solutions could include compromises on some aspects of a deal or finding creative ways to bridge gaps between stakeholders. Keeping alternative solutions in mind during negotiations gives leaders and all participants involved more options for achieving successful ends—far better than going away empty-handed.

Be Aware of Your Views and Biases

Leaders who identify and recognize their preconceived notions and prejudices have a much better chance of reaching successful outcomes during negotiations. The more self-aware a leader is, the more likely they are to remain open-minded to alternate solutions while understanding potential underlying motivations that may be at play on both sides. When leaders take the time to reflect on their personal perspectives, they can assess whether their attitudes are influencing the process, potentially leading to compromise rather than consensus.

How Leaders Can Learn the Art of Negotiation with The Soft Skills Group

The Soft Skills Group offers professional soft skills training, including conflict management and negotiation skills, to a wide range of organizations. Through education and a variety of learning solutions, we strive to empower companies and individuals to improve their workplace dynamics by harnessing the power of various types of soft skills. Contact us today to book a session.

Diana Kawarsky, MA, CCP

Diana is President of The Soft Skills Group Inc., and a senior training & development professional with over 20 years of experience in delivery, design & consulting with Fortune 500 companies, Universities & Colleges in Canada, USA, Europe, and Asia. Read More