Leadership – a matter of negotiation?

Von Stefan Kühn

Are charisma, power, self-confidence and motivational capability enough for leadership? We are convinced that authority will sooner or later reach its limits. Managers must, for example, also manage people who are cleverer, more talented or more powerful than they are. Leadership quality and negotiating competence therefore go hand in hand with each other. Leading means negotiating and negotiating means leading. Only when you establish results on the basis of common and overarching objectives and not due to personal interests will you bring out the best. This takes much more than the qualities mentioned at the start.


Hierarchy does not make a leadership culture

Skilled service providers and teams cannot lead with hierarchical power alone. They want to be actively involved and able to participate in decision-making processes, developments and innovations.

A holistic understanding of leadership is correspondingly important. Anyone who wants to experience leadership must, for example, be prepared to share visions, inspire, coordinate teams and accept conflicts as a solution process. All this requires you to negotiate with service providers, different hierarchical levels and divisions. Subsequently, multi-party negotiations may also quickly emerge in a company. Only leaders who have the skills needed for this can achieve their objectives in such a complexity.


The importance of power

Negotiating with colleagues at the same level or with superior authorities is generally recognised as sensible. The problem with this is that these negotiations often proceed too heavily based on position and according to a distributive approach. So, specifically: More for you means less for me. The old thought pattern that power is the valid currency comes through here.

Leadership, however, means not achieving ego-driven objectives, but team and cross-company objectives. This needs the integrative negotiation approach, i.e. the thinking that 1+1=3 is valid.


Negotiate with subordinates as well

Are your employees important to you and do you also gather their opinion? This is already a good basic requirement. Do you also negotiate with them? Or do you think that the final decision should be made by you and not jointly around the table?

Being able to negotiate with employees takes bravery, conflict and critical ability, active listening, honesty, creative and innovative thinking as well as the willingness to act reciprocally.

Only in this way can the different interests be combined and employees inspired. Leaders who can achieve this receive the elixir with which entire teams make an effort for jointly set and higher-level goals of their own accord and with utmost conviction. Cutting-edge negotiating approaches enable managers to identify and seize this new leadership role.

Do you want to stand out with leadership, maintain your lead, inspire and communicate effectively? Practise and hone your negotiating skills.

About the author

Stefan Kühn
Negotiation expert

Stefan Kühn is a senior international negotiator, mediator and facilitator and experienced in high-risk and high-stakes negotiations in sensitive markets. He successfully conducts national and international multi-party negotiations and consults businesses, organizations and governmental bodies in demanding and conflicting situations. Stefan Kühn graduated from Harvard University and Oxford Saïd Business School and holds a Master of Science in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution and an MBA.