Mastering negotiation techniques will transform your ability to lead strategically

Negotiation is not about conflict but delivering a mutually beneficial victory for both parties.

Yet the question remains: how do you elevate your fundamental understanding of negotiation and incorporate it in your toolkit as a strategic leader.

Every day, you practice the art of negotiation: coffee or tea? Lunch meeting or conference call? However, in a professional capacity, effective negotiation is much riskier.

A strategic leader must account for the entire organization and external stakeholders involved in the negotiation outcomes before placing agreements with other parties.

As a leader, you have to craft a plan to ensure that the terms set are mutually beneficial. In short, no party will come out ‘on top’ – but your negotiation techniques can ensure that you and your organization achieve your preferred outcome.


To completely understand the concept of negotiation, we must first consider the 5 W’s (who, what, where, when and why) when creating a contract with another party.

The two parties must put a straightforward goal or objective for their contract and what ideas of potential issues, risks or challenges may arise in the future of their agreement together.

Finally, each party must identify their “Best Alternative Outcome” – what is the minimum that you would be prepared to walk away with?

For example, many organizations did not plan for the ongoing pandemic as a challenge to their everyday business functions. However, the best strategic leaders overcame these challenges because of shared agreements in place, covering all eventualities and obligations with their vendors, suppliers and customers.

Even by understanding the worst situations, these strategic leaders continued and even strengthened their relationships with suppliers and other business partners.


Active listening is a crucial skill for effective negotiation.

Are you listening to the other party and understanding their reasons? Showing compassion and understanding leads to better terms and business conditions because it offers a willingness to agree and compromise in the present and the future.

Negotiation is not all about what is said but how it is said. Therefore, understanding non-verbal cues are essential for effective negotiation.

Reading the other person’s body language, facial expression and understanding their tone of voice adds to the discussion. Do they look upset? Are they anxious? Are they happy with the terms that are being discussed?

Their behaviour plays a role in approaching negotiations: someone uncomfortable in an ongoing negotiation may have shifted their goals and objectives and are looking for something more aligned with their new values.


Emotions are human, and it is normal to get upset or anxious when negotiating.

Being angry and refusing to be understanding will not result in a mutually beneficial agreement. On the contrary, it can weaken ties between yourself and the other party and result in an abandoned relationship.

Alison Wood Brooks, a Hellman Faculty Fellow in the Negotiation, Organizations & Markets Unit at Harvard Business School, found that when someone is anxious while negotiating, they usually end up in worse-off situations—either losing the deal entirely or offering more than what they initially wanted.

Successful strategic leaders can minimize their emotions by implementing tactics and strategies without completely losing all feeling in the negotiation. This usually results in more success internally in the organization and with external stakeholders.

To strengthen ties and ensure a successful negotiation, it is essential to be compassionate and understanding with the other party. After all, they are most likely feeling very similar to you in the situation.


To excel in your business and amongst other parties means to practice excellent negotiation skills. Strategic leaders need to be confident while negotiating.

Enhance your negotiation skills by employing compassion and understanding, showing active listening skills, and creating terms and agreement contracts before going into business with another party.

The path to becoming a strategic leader becomes worthwhile once you master your negotiation skills.

KC Academy’s The Strategic Leader course explores what it means to be a strategic leader with three critical skills: negotiation, strategic planning and conflict management.

Lacking these three crucial strategic skills can result in below-average business performance for an organization.

For more information on this course and our specialist leadership and communication courses, please contact

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