Leadership Principle: Seeking Win-Win

· by Herb Dew

Herb is the CEO of HTI. He founded HTI in 1999 along with John Knight and David Sewell, and remains heavily involved in the organization today.
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My Win Does Not Have to Equal Your Loss

As leaders, we’re constantly facing situations in which we’re making hard decisions, working through conflict, and working with others who don’t share our opinions. Being in a leadership position naturally means that our role will require that we must get things done, sometimes, with people or customers or vendors or employees that don’t agree with us or have the same priorities. The natural tendency of most leaders is to seek a win for themselves, often resulting in a loss for others.

Early in my career, I had a mentor who challenged me to think differently about winning and losing. He said to me, “Herb, when you go into a meeting, go in with the intent of finding a win-win.” His point was simple. Often, the situations we face in business can be navigated in such a way in which neither party must walk out of the room feeling like they gave up their position.

The challenge that we have as leaders is to listen.

Listen with the intent of understanding what the person across the desk is wanting to accomplish. Then understand how we can accomplish what we want without necessarily diminishing what the other person wants to accomplish.

Stephen Covey, author of “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” suggests to effectively seek Win/Win, you should embody the following character traits.

  1. Integrity: Adhering to moral principles such as honesty and fairness.

  2. Maturity: Balancing courage and consideration. Balancing self confidence with respect for others and strength with empathy.

  3. Abundance Mentality: Acknowledging there is plenty for everyone. Share recognition, credit, power, and profit.

    And, in my experience, I find a fourth characteristic is necessary.

  4. Change your lens: This is a phrase I use often at HTI when coaching and developing others. Everyone has a lens through which they view the world. Past experiences, family dynamics and history, cultural nuances, and many other factors make up that lens. Before the meeting consider, the lens of the person meeting you with resistance or friction. If you can master this, you will find win-win more often and find yourself in less conflicts.

With this in mind, it’s not always possible for both parties to win. Sometimes, you have win-lose. But, if you always seek an opportunity to listen and see if there is a way to negotiate a situation into a win-win scenario, it can be a very powerful catalyst. Rather than having somebody walk away from a situation hurt, this person feels like they were able to be successful. Thus a culture of win-win passes along through you.

One of my favorite sayings is

“Teamwork: Simply stated, it is less me and more we.”

As a leader, seeking win-win is beneficial not only for you and the other party involved in the conflict, but for all team members. Your team watches how you choose to handle each situation. Consistency as a leader builds rapport and gains favor with your team.