For some time President Trump has threatened to put sanctions on Asia's economy in order for the U.S. to come to a better trade relationship with China. So when on Friday Trump announced he would increase tariffs on China and also would be ordering American companies out of China, in response to Beijing imposing new tariffs on the U.S., few were surprised by the president’s strong reproach.
Following his announcement, Trump joined the countries of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom in Biarritz, France, for the Group of Seven (G7) annual gathering. Yet Trump’s recent decision increased widespread tension among the allied nations for the meeting.
In the midst of the weekend, as seven of the world's most industrialized and advanced economies met to discuss peaceful solutions, the matter of tariffs on China became a pressing issue. Even one of the few leaders whose views align closely with the president, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, publicly voiced his concerns about the dangers of increased tension over trade.
Just 24 hours into the summit, President Trump was moved to change his position on the matter. By Sunday morning Trump voiced that the conversations among the G7 at the summit had led him to have second thoughts on placing tariffs on China, encouraging him to begin seeking more peaceful resolutions with the nation.
While in leadership you certainly don’t need to shy away from negotiating (in fact, you often shouldn’t), you should equally be aware of your ambiguity within any situation. If both parties are using conflict to arrive at a common end that benefits everyone involved, it will frustrate both parties and lead to unintended disruptions and distractions. As a leader, sometimes the most powerful and profitable thing you can do is lead the situation by considering you may not be right.
So how can you lead with certainty, but also remain aware you don’t have all the answers? How can you engage in a negotiation while maintaining clarity and a good rapport with those in the discussion? Consider these valuable leadership principles, no matter how high your position ranks:
- Separate the negotiation from the person. Never let it get personal. Keep the negotiations centered on the ideas being discussed, always in respect of all parties involved.
- Recognize the value of diverse thought. More than one perspective exists and more than one can be right. There is never one perfect way.
- Reorient your energy around finding a solution. Conflict is only useful if it leads to something meaningful and material. Conflict isn’t an end; it’s a means to an end.
- Resist the urge to let emotions get the best of you. The second you introduce emotions into the equation, you are in dangerous territory. You will likely say or do things you’ll regret later. Keep the focus on the conversation and look for points of agreement that will lead to an agreeable conclusion.
- Realize you both may be right. The hardest choices are never between right and wrong but between better and best. What is vital is to keep your focus steady on the desired outcome.
- Consider you may not be ready to make the decision. If you don’t have all the facts just yet, you may not have to make the decision.
The truth of these principles may not be simple but can easily apply to negotiations in marriage, parenting, and friendships as well as your leadership.
Conflict is rooted in our individuality, which is certainly something to be celebrated but also something to be tamed.
Dr. Kent Ingle serves as the President of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, and is the author of "Framework Leadership." A champion of innovative educational design, Ingle is the president of one of the fastest growing private universities in the nation. As president, Ingle founded the American Center for Political Leadership at the university and is also a founding member of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration. Before becoming Southeastern’s president in 2011, Ingle held leadership positions in higher education and the nonprofit sector in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Seattle. Ingle is the author of several leadership books and the creator of the Framework Leadership podcast. He currently serves on the board of the Florida Chamber of Commerce Foundation. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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