Thursday, January 27, 2011

On Leadership and Negotiation

Every once in a while you learn something now. A penny drops. Having spent most of the last week or so among people leading out social enterprise spin-outs from the public sector I realised two things.

Firstly, that being a leader means you have be strong as a bull. This inspires people to come with you, scares the shit out of people who oppose you and wears down those that would throw marbles in your path.

Secondly that when it comes to negotiation, it isn't all about win-win. It's actually often a zero-sum game. A lot of these guys are cutting good deals from the public sector because they are intransigent buggers who just won't budge beyond a particular line. It works. Think abou the Chinese, elderly carers, Bob Crowe. After a while, these people set the parameters in the form they want them. So much for meeting half way.

Is all this new to me? Of course, not entirely. But it somehow escaped me that to be a good leader, it isn't enough just to be inspriational, well intended or courageous. You've also got to be as tough as old boots. Further to this, you've got to unreasonable when necessary and, yes, intransigent in pursuit of what you want in negotation and we willing to say 'Fuck the other side!'.

As a leader I was never that good at either of these. While I had stamina I tended to be a pushover and in negotiation my own desperation for progress and consensus would overwhelm a focus on result. Seeing some of these guys in action reminded me of where I struggled as a leader myself.


Robert Ashton said...

You need to be a woolly sock in a steel toe-capped boot, then sometimes takr off the boots and walk about

Andrew Harding said...

Do leaders write blogs baring their soul? I've enjoyed your blog immensely during the past 18 months. I also have something said by the economist J Kenneth Gailbraith ringing in my ears. Writing of president Kennedy he said no one really knew him well; nor could they because a leader couldn't say 'I don't know what to do now, without undermining themselves.

Roy said...

Why all the swearing? Is it really necessary? Hardly inspirational.....