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Unlocking the Power of Leadership in Negotiations: Insights from a Top Negotiator

Examining different leadership styles and how to leverage them to achieve optimal outcomes in negotiations

Introducing Adam Frampton, an Associate Partner and expert negotiator at The Gap Partnership who understands that effective leadership is a crucial aspect of successful negotiations.

In this insightful article, Adam examines different leadership styles and how to leverage them to achieve optimal outcomes in negotiations.

“A leader is best when people barely know they exist.” Lao Tzu - Chinese Philosopher, 5th century BC.

Leaders can be defined in many ways. What makes a good leader? Someone who micromanages or someone who empowers you? In this article, I explore different types of leaders and how to get the best out of them for your negotiations.  

The democratic leader takes into account everyone’s point of view, encourages discussion, and values transparency between the team and the counterpart across the table. Involve the democratic leader early on in the process to discuss the agenda and agree areas of the deal that you want to explore to maximize the value.

There is a danger the democratic leader may over share in a negotiation, giving away vital pieces of information to the counterpart that could be used to swing the deal away from you. Always remember, people value things that are hard to obtain.

The autocratic leader makes decisions without consulting the team, isn’t interested in discussions, and wants to make decisions regardless of the viewpoint of others. This could be useful when dependency is low. If you are in a position of power but would prefer to maintain the relationship and leverage the leader’s authority, it may be appropriate to push back on counter proposals and keep the structure of the negotiation firmly in your line of thinking.

Play to the ego of an autocratic leader, empowering them to be firm and direct. The risks of including an autocratic leader in a negotiation is they will not pay attention to the plan and think that their idea is the best and only idea. Depending on the level of complexity, dependency, and trust in the deal, this approach may work. However, if there is an existing trusting relationship, an autocratic leader could end up ruining it.

The laissez-faire leader doesn’t want or need to be involved. There is a high level of empowerment and accountability for decisions lies firmly on the team. This type of leader won’t be involved with the counterpart and will give you the authority to make decisions, as long as you ensure you have all the tactical plans in place and align as a negotiation party with what you want to achieve before you go into any meeting. 

Depending on the Counterparts level of ego and the perceived value of the deal, not having a person of leadership in communication can be construed as a lack of importance. This could resonate negatively throughout the negotiation. “Clearly we are not important to you, so why would we want to be flexible with you?”. Identify the stakeholders on the other parties side, as well as your own, in order to ensure that egos are met, even if it is just to “save face”.

Provided you understand these leadership styles and where your leader sits, you can use their styles to your advantage, rather than threaten the fabric of your negotiation design.