Learn how to negotiate like a diplomat, think on your feet like an improv performer, and master job offer negotiation like a professional athlete when you download a copy of our FREE special report, Negotiation Skills: Negotiation Strategies and Negotiation Techniques to Help You Become a Better Negotiator, from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.


effective leadership

What is Effective Leadership?

Effective leadership is the ability to successfully influence and support a team or group of people. 

It’s important to point out there’s much more to effective leadership than just delegating from the top. A great leader is also a great negotiator. And a negotiator is only successful if they have a deep understanding of what they value, and an ability to convey it to their counterpart(s). 

Adapting one’s leadership styles in order to do this is essential, giving a negotiator the opportunity to know when to hold firm to a position and when cede it in the interest of gaining a stronger agreement. Great negotiators seek agreements that will last and they have the effective leadership skills to convey that to the other side. How does one achieve that goal?

When making decisions in negotiation, we often consider one option at a time—one proposal, one job candidate, etc. Yet researchers have found that people make more rational—and ethical—decisions when they compare two or more options rather than just evaluating one. Effective leadership involves weighing several choices simultaneously and encouraging others to do the same. 

Arguing over a single contentious issue rarely prompts win-win deals. Bring a host of other issues to the table to identify overlooked opportunities and potential trades across issues. 

Discover the four building blocks that can help you create effective working relationships with the people you lead and augment your leadership skills with this free special report, Real Leaders Negotiate: Understanding the Difference Between Leadership and Management, from Harvard Law School. Learn how to resolve disputes, build coalitions, and more!

We will send you a download link to your copy of the report and notify you by email when we post new advice and information on how to improve your business negotiation skills to our website.

The following items are tagged effective leadership:

Negotiating Organizational Development

Posted by Lara SanPietro & filed under Teaching Negotiation.

Teach Your Students to Promote Organizational Development and Build Leadership Skills Efforts to impact change in any kind of organization usually involve multiple kinds of negotiations or consensus-building efforts. Organizational development is most effective when the participants in the organization, whether public, private or civil society, are directly engaged in deciding what might need to change, … Read More 

The Importance of a Relationship in Negotiation

Posted by Jeswald Salacuse & filed under Negotiation Training.

At the negotiation table, what’s the best way to uncover your negotiation counterpart’s hidden interests? Build a relationship in negotiation by asking questions, then listening carefully. Even if you have decided to make the first offer and are ready with a number of alternatives, you should always open by asking and listening to assess your … Read More 

Building a Winning Team: Learn from the Disharmony of Trump’s Trade Negotiations with China

Posted by PON Staff & filed under International Negotiation.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly asserted that if he were elected, eliminating the U.S. trade deficit with China would be a top priority. But once in office, Trump was alternately swayed by opposing factions in his administration: pro-business moderates and America-first trade hawks. The resulting roller-coaster ride, as summarized in the Wall Street Journal, serves … Read More 

Effective Leadership: Learning from David Cameron’s Failed Brexit Negotiations

Posted by PON Staff & filed under International Negotiation.

Leaders sometimes need to devote significant time to convincing a counterpart of the logic and appeal of their proposals. What happens when they need to persuade negotiators on opposite sides of an issue to see your point of view? Such situations highlight why negotiation is important in leadership, as effective leadership can require special skills … Read More 

Women in Leadership: Toward More Equitable Negotiations

Posted by Katie Shonk & filed under Leadership Skills.

Women remain vastly underrepresented in organizational leadership positions in the United States and beyond. Leadership homogeneity can lead to gender-biased decisions that harm not only women employees but also organizations as a whole—including in the context of employment negotiations. In 2018, top track and field athletes revealed how their corporate sponsors penalized them for becoming … Read More 

Visionary Leadership through Coalition Building

Posted by Katie Shonk & filed under Leadership Skills.

Increasingly, executives are displaying visionary leadership on issues related to social justice. The National Basketball Association printed the words “Black Lives Matter” on the court in its Orlando, Florida, “bubble” in 2020, for example, and businesses such as Netflix have committed to making significant financial investments in Black communities. On March 25, 2021, Georgia’s Republican-led legislature … Read More 

Strategies to Resolve Conflict over Deeply Held Values

Posted by Katie Shonk & filed under Conflict Resolution.

Some of our most heated negotiations and disputes concern our core values, including personal moral standards, religious and political beliefs, and our family’s welfare. Business partners sometimes clash over the ethical standards they expect each other to uphold. Parents might forbid their teenager from attending a party during the pandemic. Friends may feel bitterly divided … Read More 

Effective Leadership Techniques: Negotiating as an Agent

Posted by Katie Shonk & filed under Leadership Skills.

Following Joe Biden’s election as the next U.S. president, we revisit a 2014 Negotiation Briefings article, “When You’re Negotiating for Someone Else, Stay in the Deal,” about the significant role Biden negotiated for himself as vice president. As vice president to President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2017, Joe Biden worked hard to be, in his … Read More 

Strategic Leadership: Move Beyond the Status Quo

Posted by Katie Shonk & filed under Leadership Skills.

When old business models no longer serve us well, strategic leadership is needed to adapt to new times and conditions. This was true when entertainment-industry disrupter Netflix and two major U.S. theater chains tried to negotiate a wide theatrical release for The Irishman, the Netflix-financed Martin Scorsese film. Their impasse highlights the important role of … Read More 

Collaborative Leadership at the Louvre

Posted by Katie Shonk & filed under Leadership Skills.

When faced with conducting a series of negotiations with numerous counterparts, we often benefit from teaming up with colleagues. There’s much to learn about collaborative leadership from the deals that curators at France’s Louvre Museum conducted to secure loans of Leonardo da Vinci works for a major exhibit that opened in October 2019, as Kelly … Read More 

The Value of Collaborative Leadership During Crises

Posted by Katie Shonk & filed under Leadership Skills.

The United States and South Korea were both hit hard by the coronavirus. Yet while South Korea swiftly limited the virus’s impact, infection and death rates have soared in the United States. What can the United States and other countries learn from South Korea’s coronavirus response and how can they better prepare for future pandemics? … Read More 

Collaborative Leadership: Managing Constructive Conflict

Posted by Katie Shonk & filed under Leadership Skills.

“I like conflict,” U.S. President Donald Trump said at a March 6, 2018 press conference, referring to his style as a businessman and as president. With many key leaders departing his administration, Trump denied the White House was in chaos and suggested any internal conflict had been beneficial. “I like having two people with different … Read More 

Teach Crucial Leadership Skills

Posted by Lara SanPietro & filed under Teaching Negotiation.

A Crisis Creates a Leadership Vacuum A publicly traded company on the NYSE with a reputation for business savvy and lucrative deal making is caught in a morally questionable situation that threatens the very future of the firm. As the dust settles, the CEO, on whose watch the scandal occurred, is forced to step down. Word … Read More 

Find the Right Leadership Voice

Posted by Jeswald Salacuse & filed under Negotiation Skills.

When the poet Walt Whitman wrote, “Surely, whoever speaks to me in the right voice, him or her shall I follow,” he conveyed the notion that persuasive communication is fundamental to effective leadership. Whitman’s words also underscore the importance of shaping leadership communications to meet individual concerns, interests, and styles. When deciding how to communicate, recognize … Read More