Bring in a third party at an impasse

September 6, 2011
When United Airlines was making its first big purchase of the 737 aircraft, it ran into a disagreement with pilots. United believed that two pilots should fly the plane while the union wanted three pilots. That management and union leadership reached an impasse is no huge surprise. But what is surprising is what came next.

How to get what you want

August 2, 2011

“There’s this big building in Chicago called the Sears Tower. You heard of it?” Joseph Plumeri, chief executive of Willis Group Holdings, asked graduating seniors at the College of William & Mary. That’s also the way Plumeri would tell people how he planned to rename that skyscraper the Willis Tower.

Leadership Tips: Vol. 811

August 1, 2011
Plan a reverse elevator pitch: Every­body knows about the 30-­second “elevator speech” aspiring employees should have on hand when riding the elevator with head honchos. But do you have a snippet ready for times you’re confined in a small space with a subordinate or a visitor?

Recognize a ‘thick face’

July 7, 2011

Most Americans know about “saving face,” the Asian concept of preserving reputation, dignity and prestige. Less known is having a “thick face,” or being tough and adaptable while still saving face. There’s more to having a thick face, as defined by a Western businessman who worked for many years in China:

Four ‘musts’ for women managers

May 16, 2011
Common wisdom says you’re a leader because you’re good at leading. But research suggests that you’re a leader because you’re good at claiming the authority to lead. That’s a necessary lesson for women managers, say Harvard professors Hannah Riley Bowles and Kathleen McGinn.

The shared impact of deadlines

April 11, 2011
Q. “Due to the nature of my business, I often find myself negotiating under tight deadlines. I feel this puts me at a disadvantage, even before we begin to bargain! In some of my past negotiations, I ended up conceding more than I wanted and faster than I desired. Given that I commonly do not have any flexibility around my deadlines, do you have any advice on how to better hide this weakness?”

A failure to communicate

February 16, 2011
Q. “I’ve just finished reading No One Would Listen: A True Financial Thriller by Harry Markopolos, the whistle-blower in the Bernard Madoff scandal. Why do you think Markopolos was so ineffective at persuading the SEC that Madoff was a fraud? What does this story tell us about how to be persuasive in negotiation?”

When to ‘kick it upstairs’

December 13, 2010
Q. “I am about to begin a negotiation whose subject matter is squarely within my area of responsibility. However, the dollar amounts at stake are so large that I’m tempted to kick it upstairs to my boss, or at least involve my boss directly in the negotiation. What are the pros and cons of doing so?”

Making multiple offers can pay off

November 15, 2010

Effective negotiators seek opportunities to create value. By making tradeoffs across issues, parties can obtain greater value on the issues that are most important to them. But how can you be sure you’re making the right offer?

Are you focused on what’s relevant?

November 9, 2010
When weighing job offers, many students base their decision on vivid, high-prestige qualities such as salary or firm reputation, overlooking factors more relevant to their ability to thrive in the new position. These job-seekers, like all negotiators, are susceptible to “vividness bias.” How can you keep vividness from working against you? Here are a few ways to focus your attention in the right direction: