Returning To The Table

Posted by Alana Kadden Ballon on Jul 29, 2013

4514690784_b88de6ccdb_bThis week it was announced that Israel and the Palestinians were coming back together for direct talks for the first time since 2010. India and Pakistan are reportedly coming back the table after peace talks fell apart in January of this year. These conflicts remind us that no matter what we worry about in our daily start-up-landia lives, for the majority of us, our negotiating challenges are entirely resolvable with some effort.

VPs of Sales and Marketing are famous for not getting along – fighting over lead flow, lead conversion and execution on both sides. In the merger space, sometimes firms are coming together after years of competing against each other. At Inqune, we work with several VPs of Sales & Marketing, as well as companies coming together as a result of a merger or acquisition. While we are not negotiating geopolitical stalemates here, what if we thought about the strategies of international diplomats in regard to our own negotiating tables?

Three lessons we can take from the leaders who are coming back to the table:

1) Be a leader with a different vision.

Since the 1994 Oslo Accords and the Simla agreement in 1972, talks between the respective pairs have stopped and started.  The vision and continued hope that different leaders have had over the years teaches us that we can always start again. Why are you adopting a traditional paradigm of conflict? What could your team do if sales and marketing were completely aligned? What if your merger was focused on shared goals instead of prior territorial claims?

2) Courage to do the unpopular is key.

Many of the leaders who have agreed to engage in talks have faced unpopularity at home. Will your team hate you if they think you are working with “them”? Keeping your team’s focus on the firm’s long term goals and vision is key to maintaining courage. Ask yourself and your teams: Why do we do the work that we do? What are we hoping to accomplish? How can we best accomplish what we’re trying to do? Everything else is just getitng in your way: jettison it.

3) Perseverance

Things don’t often work on their first try. In both of these global conflicts, leaders have stepped away from the negotiating table only to be coaxed back by other world partners.  If something hasn’t worked in the past, what approach can you take to try again? Who are your (internal and external) partners? Often times this is the CEO or other leadership team members. What’s in it for them? What’s in it for you? What do you have to lose by trying again? What do you have to gain?