As former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss says, “Every day is a negotiation.” In fact, it’s one of the most important skills to develop as a leader. Fortunately, you have ample opportunity to exercise the art of negotiation daily without negotiating the shirt off your back.

Should I make dinner tonight or order in? Should I workout or sleep in? These seemingly insignificant decisions can often lead us to make the most incremental shifts in our lives, inevitably developing better or sometimes even bad habits.

In the workplace, we see it with higher stake decisions from salary negotiations to acquisitions. At the executive level, you’re looking to influence, inspire others to follow your lead and make an impact that can be felt throughout the organization, not just with your counterparts.

The most common mistake I see time and time again is leaders negotiating the one thing that can’t be negotiated. Their worth. Or shouldn’t for that matter. Unless of course, you’re willing to conform to someone you’re not and play a role for recognition and validation. 

Unfortunately, I see it most often in women, although I’ve witnessed it with men as well. Ambitious leaders that genuinely care deeply for the people they work with, yet are confusing their ability to show they care with attaching their worth by overcommitting, overextending and trying to “prove” themselves.

For what?

  • The praise
  • The credit
  • The money
  • The power
  • The title 

I’m sure you can add more to this list. The truth is, if you’re placing your worth on jumping leaps and bounds to prove you’re something to notice, you’re in trouble and you’ve lost yourself for a job. 

Yes – a job. Not because it’s meaningless and what you do shouldn’t be something you’re proud of, but because YOU’RE worth so much more!

Here’s what it might sound like in the office:

When I nail this project, they’ll consider me for that promotion.”

“If I take on a few more responsibilities, they’ll see I’m dedicated to my job and this company.”

“I’m known for doing this kind of work; I can’t delegate this to my team.”

They’re expecting me to deliver, I can’t say no.”

It’s expressing these statements and essentially trying to do it all to win the appraisal and respect of others. Usually at the expense of: 

  • Your time (more time doing more work than you need to = taking personal time away from you)
  • The missed development opportunity for your direct report or someone else in the organization (you do ALL the work means taking away a development or learning opportunity for someone who could benefit from the experience)
  • Your health (working extended hours, eventually, takes its toll and leads to unnecessary stress, sleepless nights and wellbeing going down the drain)
  • Your family (more time in front of your computer overworking = less time with your family)

You’re negotiating your worth whether you realize it or not.

Your worth as a leader doesn’t come from bending over backwards for the applause from others or your title. It comes from the essence of who you are. Your innate worth is in YOU and isn’t tied to your position, what you do or the responsibilities you hold.

Until you recognize that for yourself, you’ll be left disappointed in attaching a meaning for yourself that your worth needs to be negotiated to get what you want. Whatever that means for you.

When it comes to work, here are some of the things you should be negotiating:

  • Your salary
  • Your title
  • Benefits
  • Time off
  • Taking on a project
  • A start date
  • An exit date

These have nothing to do with who you are. They’re checkboxes that have no bearing on the value you hold. The next time you’re considering your next negotiation, make sure you’re not negotiating the one thing that’s priceless. Your worth.

I’d love to hear from you!

Do you recognize yourself here? What’s the most difficult thing you had to negotiate in your career and how did it impact you?

Let me know in the comments below!

Here’s to getting everything you desire and so much more, without negotiating your self-worth.

Big love

Lisa 💖

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