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The Seventh Commandment Of Highly Effective Leadership: Be A Thoughtful Negotiator

Jacob M. Engel

Author and CEO of The Prosperous Leader. I help CEOs and their organizations prosper.

One of my first lessons in negotiation happened when our company was informed by our local branch manager that they had decided to exit the banking business, and we would need to find another bank.

It came out of the blue, as we were a very profitable, growing business and couldn't understand why the bank was dumping us. When we asked the branch manager whom we could talk to, he said no one, as it was a done decision.

I was tasked with finding a new bank. I decided, however, to first ascertain what we could have done in the current banking relationship that we didn't do, so that in the next relationship, it would be more balanced, and we wouldn't be at the mercy of an obscure banker who wouldn't come talk to us.

The first mistake was that we didn't have any relationships with anyone else other than the branch manager.

The second mistake was we didn't have any other banking relationships.

I started speaking to different banks, and when we met with the new bankers, I explained that in order for us to build a win-win relationship, we would need to meet the senior banker who signs on the deal, and we would want a dual banking relationship.

We found two new bankers who were willing to work together, and they also gave us a much larger line of credit with much better rates.

We created excellent relationships with the senior bankers by having regular ongoing visits with them, and the dual relationship kept everyone honest.

As Stephen Covey famously quotes in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, creating a win-win requires two things: courage and consideration.

Courage to be upfront and clear about your needs and why it's important, and consideration for the other party's needs as well. If both can be met, it creates a true win-win. Otherwise, it's no deal. Be open and honest about what hasn't worked for you in the past and what you need to make it work.