If you are working as a team on a negotiation, it’s important to allocate team tasks to ensure your team is aligned at the table. One of the key tasks is the lead negotiator.
So how do you decide who is best placed to lead?
Firstly, it’s not a good idea for the key decision maker or boss to lead the negotiation. They are not necessarily the most skilled, and are often not across the finer details - but more importantly having the highest authority taking up this position means your team has no point of escalation. Decisions made at the table will then be held. It’s always in your interest to have deferred authority as this gives you breathing room to park and check on issues if required.
Have a think about who has a solid understanding of negotiations, whether it be as a result of training or through experience or preferably both. There is a structure that all negotiations flow through. If you understand where you are in terms of the stages of a negotiation you are then aware of what skills to apply within each of these stages.
Also, what capabilities would you want to see in your lead negotiator? Here are some characteristics to help select a good lead negotiator:
- A clear communicator
- Strong listening skills
- A curious mindset
- Calm under pressure
- Open minded
- Flexible to adapt to quick change of circumstances
- Collaborative style
Finally, consider who within your team has a good relationship with the other party or an ability to build trust quickly. Trust is a key currency for any negotiation. A higher level of trust facilitates greater transparency and co operation which is conducive to reaching a mutually beneficial outcome.