Negotiation Lessons Learned From LeBron James’ Situation

For those that aren’t aware, LeBron James is a basketball player mega superstar. When superstars negotiate, they’re afforded a certain negotiation latitude. So, who can fault LeBron James for taking control of an advantage he had when negotiating last summer, eventually landing with the Miami Heat over the Cleveland Cavaliers? When you’re in a ‘power’ position, that’s the time to ‘push’ your agenda forward.

Most savvy negotiators know how and when to advance their negotiation position. Are you aware of the times in which you hold advantages in a negotiation, and how to utilize those advantages?

This article examines the negotiation pros and cons of what occurred when LeBron James negotiated for his freedom. In it are negotiation lessons from which you can increase your negotiation skills. By the way, don’t lynch the author for saying LeBron negotiated his freedom. By freedom, it is meant, the pursuit of his dreams.

Be Fearless:

  • When you’re fearful about negotiating, think about the outcome and weigh what you seek to achieve versus settling for what you have. If the odds are in your favor to stride forward, do so. Be courageous. After all, courage is nothing more than possessing the judgment to realize that something else is more important than fear. (LeBron tossed naysayer comments to the wind in seeking the path he felt best served the outcome he sought.)

Understand the ‘value proposition’ in the negotiation:

  • Sometimes, money is not the deciding factor in a negotiation. Thus, if you’re focusing on dollars to solve a negotiation problem and the other negotiator is seeking another form of resolution, chances are the negotiation will not come to fruition. When you’re at an impasse, understand the root cause of that impasse and address that point of contention. (The management of the Cavs (LeBron’s former team), thought money would be the deciding factor that would keep LeBron in Cleveland, which turned out not to be a major factor in LeBron’s decision.)

 

Reframe a ‘point of contention’ to one that’s more favorable to your position:

  • Cav’s management shifted the inference of the conversation, related to LeBron leaving Cleveland, to one of the pain that such action would cause the city. They didn’t highlight the fact that LeBron had fulfilled his contractual agreement, and thus was ‘free’ to explore other avenues. To do so would have weakened their position, as they played to the sympathy of the public.  

Consequences: There will always be consequences to the actions you take. Weigh them and proceed accordingly.

  • Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and a host of former NBA (National Basketball Association) players, and non-superstars have derided LeBron’s decision to leave the Cavs. Nevertheless, LeBron, knowing the desire he had to play for a team that could win a championship has pushed all the negative rhetoric aside to follow his desires. (When you’re sure about the direction in which you’re going, go on! Since you’re the one that will have to endure the consequences, follow the path that suits your interest for the negotiation.)

Expand the scope of the negotiation:

When seeking leverage in a negotiation, consider expanding the negotiation to metaphorically include parties that will be affected by negative or positive actions, based on the outcome you seek. (i.e. The owners of the Cavs brought up the fact that Cleveland’s economy and its people would be negatively impacted, if LeBron left the team). They were attempting to make the situation affect a broader segment of people. In so doing, they wanted to increase the perceived level of pain that would be inflicted upon the people of the city. 

When you negotiate, after weighing all the options of a potential outcome, if you’re prepared to incur the consequences and you wish to go forth, ‘go for it’. Do so with all the zest and zeal you can muster. Fret not about ‘what could have been’. You’re the person in charge of your destiny. If you fall short in the negotiation, just remember, sometimes, that’s the way the ball bounces … and everything will be right with the world.

 The Negotiation Tips Are …

  • Utilize your negotiation power when you’re powerful in a negotiation. To allow it to wane is to forgo an advantage. Even if you chose not to use it, let the other negotiator know that you realized you had an advantage and chose to forgo utilizing it. In so doing you still gain mental credit with him for having it.
  • Consider ‘playing the victim’ when placed in a precarious negotiation position. The owners of the Cavs cried ‘wounded’ when LeBron was considering playing for another team. They lamented, “how could LeBron leave us after all we’ve done for him”. In a negotiation, sympathy can beget interest. Just be careful how you utilize it. 
  • When you negotiate, there will be times when you’ll have to lead with your head and other times when you’ll have to lead with your heart. Regardless to which you choose, do so confidently. It’s your life and not another soul can experience the sorrows and joys that you experience, except you. 

Special Offer:

To inquire about having The Master Negotiator as a coach or consultant, or to conduct ‘live’ instructional sessions, and/or keynote presentations at your company, group, or organization, please send an e-mail to GregWilliams@TheMasterNegotiator.com and start getting more of what you deserve out of life.  Please include the verbiage, ‘Negotiation Inquiry’ in the subject line.

©MMX Greg Williams (The Master Negotiator), All rights reserved.

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