Negotiation: The secret to Effective Leadership

I meet lots of leaders and hear about the many challenges that they face: too much work, not enough time, difficult bosses, confused priorities, difficulty getting their team to deliver results, and lack of opportunities or capacity to develop their own projects

It might seem lazy, but I genuinely believe that there is one answer to all of these issues: NEGOTIATION.

Effective leaders understand that they must Negotiate EVERYTHING and that failing to do this will leave them overworked and overwhelmed.

But as is true with so many simple things; it’s easier said than done!  That’s why I’ve created the DNA method to demonstrate how to effectively incorporate negotiation into the fabric your leadership practice.  Let me share the secret with you.

Next time you get involved in a task – whether you are on the receiving it, commissioning it, delegating it or creating it, follow these 3 simple steps: I promise it will make you more effective.

DEFINE   What exactly is the task that needs to be done? Take time to understand what is being asked of you, or to explain what you need to be done. Check that this task fits with the Strategic aims of the organisation, and your broader vision of success. Don’t rush off to a task thinking you know what is being asked of you without being really sure, or assume that your team can read your mind!

NEGOTIATE You need to learn to do more than say ‘Yes’ to everything that’s asked of you and you need to give your team permission to negotiate tasks with you.  Remember the shorthand:

FAST + GOOD + CHEAP   Generally only 2 out of 3 are possible!  If your boss asks for something good & fast, then you’ll need to negotiate extra resources.  They want it good & cheap; negotiate the deadline.  If fast + cheap is the priority then a first draft, or a rough proposal will have to do. 

There is a very small window of opportunity to Negotiate a task – and it’s right at the start of the commissioning phase.  If you wait to think about it and go back and ask for more time or extra resources you’ll look weak and ineffective.  Try not to accept a task before you’ve defined it and negotiated terms that you know you can deliver on.

ACT Your reputation depends on you delivering what you’ve promised.  Be sure to ACT; this will strengthen your hand for the next negotiation. The beauty of the Negotiation secret is that you should be able to build a reputation for being the individual or the team that delivers. 


If you’d like to read something great on Negotiation, I’d recommend ‘The Truth about Negotiations’ by Leigh Thompson. If you'd like to explore leadership issues, you'd be really welcome at one of  my 'Effective Leader' training days or masterclasses.  I also offer bespoke solutions & coaching for individuals and organisations.  clair@pashleyfisher.co.uk