It’s not an easy road to build trust in client relationships in business. There are certainly different interests and perspectives of people, and we need to adjust accordingly. Join Christine McKay and Executive Vice President of FranklinCovey Scott Miller as they engage in a conversation revolving around negotiation in leadership, the importance of declaring your intent, and doing it. Scott shares his entrepreneurial journey, winning relationships and getting the value of it. Then, he elaborates on how to execute effective leadership in the professional world through negotiation. Join this episode where we explore ways to be clear in our purpose, goals, and priorities for business growth.

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Effective Leadership Requires Negotiation To Build Great Relationships With Scott Miller

Welcome back to another exciting episode where we help you, the small and midsize business, elevate your negotiations, ask for more of what you want and we bring you tools and techniques to show you how to negotiate for that. We do that by bringing you amazing guests from across the globe that have great stories and interesting topics to share with you about negotiation. Our guest is no exception. I am so excited to have him.

I’m incredibly honored that we have Mr. Scott Miller on my show. Scott is an Executive Vice President with FranklinCovey and has been with FranklinCovey for many years. He has a plethora of books, Management Mess to Leadership Success, Marketing Mess to Brand Success and Job Mess to Career Success. If you go into Amazon and type his name, he has a bunch of books that he’s been involved in. It’s awesome and super exciting. Scott, welcome. Thank you for being here. I am so excited because you aren’t sure how we’re going to make the connection between leadership and negotiation. That makes me super excited because I’ve been thinking hard about this episode.

Christine, thank you for the invitation. Thank you for the platform. Thank you for the spotlight. I love that your blouse, your glasses and your hair all work well together. That’s a brand, girl. Nicely done.

I had five speaking events and my hair is getting redone. For those of you who can’t see my hair, usually, my hair is super bright green, blue and purple. I’m crazy with my hair. I’ve been doing it for over twenty years. It is all coordinated. It’s a good pattern disrupter when I’m negotiating. People are not sure what to think. It levels the playing field in an intriguing way.

Beware of the person entering the negotiation with Christine.

Scott, you’ve been at FranklinCovey for a long time. Not many people stay at businesses much anymore for that length of time. Tell us about how you came across, how you started there and in your journey to where you are now.

I completed my 25th year in 2021 in the FranklinCovey company. I live in Salt Lake City with my wife and our three boys. Originally, I’m from Orlando, Florida. I worked for the Disney Company for four years. They invited me to leave, which is how Disney does that when they want to kick you out. Where does a single Catholic boy in his twenties move from Orlando, Florida? Provo, Utah is where all the Catholics are. Here I am at 23, unemployed, single and Catholic.

I got an offer to join up the then Covey Leadership Center founded by the famous Dr. Stephen R. Covey. His book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has sold 40 million copies. They developed a $500 million consulting company. They invited me to come out to Utah, which I love because it was the opposite of Orlando. No neon, no billboards and Four Seasons. It was me and a priest bogged down Catholicism in Provo. It’s been a great ride. Fifteen years in the sales side and ten years as the chief marketing officer. I was on the executive team. I host the world’s largest weekly leadership podcast called On Leadership with Scott Miller. It’s about seven million distributed distributions every week after 150 episodes.

I’ve written a few things. I’m a columnist for Inc. Magazine. First and foremost, I’m a dad and a husband. I’m trying to work into themes with some thought leadership here and there. I’ve made lots of messes that are the theme of my whole series is mess to success. My first book was Management Mess to Leadership Success and the premise was, leadership is hard. It’s not for everyone. Not everyone should be a leader of people, just like how not everyone should be a commercial airline, a pilot or an anesthesiologist.

IVZ 40 | Negotiation In Leadership
Negotiation In Leadership: When you speak to someone, declaring your intent is one of the best leadership competencies. It comes to influencing people in negotiations.


Not everybody should be a leader of people. It’s messy. The premise behind that is to own your mess. Everybody’s got a mess going on. When you own your mess, you make it safe for others to own theirs. In my books, I share basically all my mistakes and as a gift to say that there’s a pothole coming. Walk around that. Don’t fall in it like I did. Hopefully, that’s the gift that I’m getting back to my readers. It’s speaking and talking about how to move from mess to success in a whole variety of areas in life.

I always have a conversation with all my guests before I have them on the show. We talked and you were like, “I’m not how do we make the leadership thing and negotiation work.” I am super excited about this topic because to me, leadership from a leader of people but we also have to lead ourselves. When we’re negotiating, the ability to say yes and no to things requires leadership especially when you are in a company and you’re negotiating with a larger organization or negotiating on behalf of your own organization. If you don’t have strong leadership skills, you’ll say yes to things you should have said no to and you’ll say no to things that you should have said yes to.

I want to dig into the leadership conversation. I had an interview with Mr. Scott O’Neil so it’s the Scotts. Scott is the CEO of a company called Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment. They own the Philadelphia 76ers, the New Jersey Devils and a bunch of other brands and we talked about leadership a little bit in that episode. If you haven’t read that episode, go check that one out. Tell us about what are some of your philosophies around leadership? What are some of the things you’ve seen going from your mess to success?

I wrote about 30 of them so it’ll be easy to choose from. To your point around what you say yes to what you say no to may or may not be right. It usually comes down to as a leader. Whether you’re leading your own life, side hustle, you’re an entrepreneur or you’re leading a big Fortune 5000 or something in between, it comes around clarity. Clarity on your values, purpose, customers’ circumstance, growth plan and priorities. Jim Collins co-wrote Built to Last, Good to Great and How the Mighty Fall. He teaches this concept BHAGs, Big Hairy Audacious Goals.

At FranklinCovey, we have a version of that. Jim is a friend of ours and we call the WIGs, Wildly Important Goals. As a leader, when you have clearly articulated, defined and communicated your wildly important goals, that’s half the battle. It’s what you say yes to what you say no to because there will always be more great ideas than there is the capacity to execute. There will always be more add-ons to your CRM or to your marketing automation service. That subscription fast model is going to add on all services. You’ll say yes to everything before you go to have a CRM that has so many levers, buzzes and whistles. You’ll never be able to execute on all of them.

It’s having the confidence and the humility to know what you want and what you don’t, what you need and what you don’t. At the end of the day, we’re all in business to either sell something or provide a service. Woe is the leader. Woe is the negotiator that follows into somebody else’s agenda. Act or be acted upon. Have a plan or become part of someone else’s plan. That’s how I always lived my career. I don’t want to be part of your plan. From an abundance mentality, I’ll coach you and help you but I’ve got a plan for my life and I don’t want to move off of my plan onto your plan unless that’s a better plan than mine.

Deliberation. The ability to make high-value decisions, the ability to show courage, our leadership competencies and balanced with the ability to demonstrate humility and vulnerability because no one wants to work with the smartest person in the room. No one wants to work for the know-it-alls. You’ve got to be self-aware enough to be influenced and be influenceable. It’s a lot of competencies but it’s that magic mix of all of those sets you up to be a great leader and to be more deliberate around what to say yes to and what to say no to.

You hit on a whole lot of things in there. One of the things I talk about when I talk about negotiation is the first step. The first step of any effective negotiation is being clear on what it is you want and how important it is to you because that’s where you get your tradeoffs. You need to get clear on what your counterpart needs and wants. What does your counterpart require to be successful? It’s that intersection point which we call the Venn Zone, hence the name of the show, where common ground exists and where agreement happens. I love that.

I’m curious and that’s a keyword. Curiosity for me is also a characteristic of leadership. Being curious about who you are, who your counterparts are, who your employees are, who the people around you are and curious about the situations that you find yourself in. That curiosity also, for me, is a cornerstone element of negotiations and leadership. I find that people who are effective leaders are curious about all three of those things. Themselves, other people and the situations they find themselves in. What are your thoughts on that?

Everybody's got a mess going on in their lives. When you own your mess, you make it safe for others to own theirs. Click To Tweet

You have so much to support that insight. Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE, I had several occasions to work with him and talk with him. He talked about one of his greatest leadership competencies. What he looks for in hires is that curiosity, that insatiable curiosity, he called it. The ability to look around corners and see what’s next and wonder. Jim Collins again calls it, “Being less interesting and more interested.” That’s so cliché-ish but it’s profound. You spend less time trying to be interesting and more time being interested.

Here’s a great story to prove your point. As with you, I host a podcast. I was preparing for an interview with the famous Hollywood producer Brian Grazer, Ron Howard’s counterpart at Imagine Entertainment, who produced some of the biggest movies of all time. In his book, A Curious Mind, he talked about once he was interviewing the famous scientist, Isaac Asimov. He was a scientist, a fiction writer and wrote hundreds of books. He went to lunch with Isaac Asimov. It’s like going to lunch with Einstein years ago.

He went to lunch with him because he wanted to pick his mind for a few ideas that Brian had on a script for a movie. He goes to lunch with this famous world-renowned scientist and his then-wife. I don’t think he was his first wife or maybe not even his last wife. He went to lunch with his then-wife, who was a fairly bold woman. Bold because of this story. Brian Grazer is famous in Hollywood with his crazy hair. You recognize him if you Google him. He goes to lunch and he starts asking Isaac Asimov some questions. They went to the Ritz in New York City. A tea lunch kind of thing.

About ten minutes into the interview, the wife stands up and says to Brian Grazer, “This meeting is over. By the nature of your questions and how shallow they are, it’s clear you have not done proper research on my husband’s expertise. We’re done.” They got up and they walked out. Brian Grazer shares his story. For me, it had this profound influence. As with you, I host this podcast and had on major celebrities like Matthew McConaughey, Seth Godin, generals and ambassadors. You’d be damn straight that I read their whole book.

You’re confident that I’m curious around why they did this and why they did that and I’m repeating, “On page four, you say this.” Curiosity keeps you humble. It lets you keep learning. It keeps you open to feedback, insights into changing your mind and wondering why you aren’t getting the vaccine. Why don’t you want to wear a mask? Why did you vote for Trump and why? You can build a relationship with someone and not agree with them. You can even validate someone and not agree with them. This is listening. This is curiosity. It’s the formation of your entire growth. I went on a tangent on that but the moment that you stop being curious, you’re dead because your growth stops.

I love that Isaac Asimov story. That’s an amazing story because it does show that what we intend to happen and how we show up and present ourselves isn’t always received the way that we expect it to be. We always go into situations like, “This is what I’m intending to happen but other people are evaluating what we’re saying and what we’re doing based on their own lens.” I spoke to a group of 70 people and I said to them, “Every one of you is hearing what I’m saying in a completely different way. It does not invalidate what I’m saying. I know what my intent is but I know that my tone is impacting each of you differently. The speed with which I’m speaking is interacting with you differently and the things that I’m saying and the messages that I’m giving you are resonating differently with every single one of you.” Being curious about how those messages land and whether you’re talking one-on-one or whether you’re talking one-on-many is a cornerstone of what makes leadership effective and absolutely makes what is one of the cornerstones of effective negotiation.

Christine, it’s profound because a leader’s job is to achieve results within and through other people. That’s your main job. Achieve results within through others, which means you have to listen, be patient, slow down, build capability, understand other people’s points of view, their mindset, their paradigm and why you believe that. What did your previous leader teach you that you now think is a good or bad way to do this or the right and most efficient way? All of this, to your point, have these deeply entrenched mindsets.

It’s one of the ideas that Dr. Covey popularized in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He didn’t invent the word paradigm but he definitely popularized it in 40 million copies in the ‘80s and ‘90s. The book still sells 10,000 copies a week. It’s insane because, to your point, every one of those participants has different fields of experience. Things that their grandmothers, rabbis, imams, neighbors, principals, spouses have taught them. Things they’ve come to believe are true or not true.

When you speak to someone declaring your intent is probably one of the best leadership competencies. It comes to influencing people putting in negotiations because absent facts, people make stuff up. If you don’t declare your intent, people will ascribe one to you. It’s the root of all conflict. It’s the root of no-deal or lose-lose in negotiation when I thought this was a win for you. I thought it was a win for me. You made that up. You didn’t protest. I didn’t know you’re serious.

IVZ 40 | Negotiation In Leadership
Negotiation In Leadership: Build great relationships and earn trust through the collection of all your decisions and putting them into action.


Clarifying expectations, eliminating confusion and declaring your intent will reduce conflict in every area of your life. I love this quote from one of our founders, Blaine Lee. He said, “Nearly all, if not all conflict in life comes from mismatched or unfulfilled expectations.” If you don’t declare your intent, people are guessing what is a win for you. They’re guessing how far they can manipulate you or whatever it is. If you set clear boundaries and you’re clear on your intent then you’ve got a better chance of alignment than you do people.

As you were talking, two words jumped into my head because there are two things that I’ve learned about negotiation over the many years I’ve been doing it. One is that people are afraid of it. We’re all afraid of it at some point in our lives and careers. If anybody says to you, “I love negotiating all the time,” they’re lying to you. That’s baloney. That’s not true. We all suck at negotiations at different points in time but we’re afraid of being judged at the moment.

When we want something from somebody, we start to get this conversation going in our head, “If I asked for that then they’re going to think this of me,” so we ask for something less. The other big thing that impacts negotiation outcomes negatively is that we have been taught. I live in Los Angeles and I blame Hollywood in part for this. We’ve been taught that negotiation, even if the term win-win and I was taught by those professors, the professors who wrote Getting to Yes and Getting Past No were amazing but the term win-win doesn’t mean what it meant in the book Getting to Yes.

If there’s a deal that got signed then we both must have won but that’s not the case at all. As a result, we go into negotiations convinced that our counterparts are out to get us so we don’t trust them. When you were talking, the two words that popped into my mind were transparency and trust. Leaders in negotiation, leaders in business, leaders of people, people who are affected leading themselves have transparency and trust.

I couldn’t be more philosophically aligned with you. I’ve spent the better part of my 30 years teaching FranklinCovey’s content and now writing books on my own. A lot of people say, “It’s great to have thick skin.” I learned from Brené Brown, Viola Davis and some preparation for an interview that thick skin is great but nothing gets in and nothing gets out. You’ve got to have transparent, translucent skin. Stuff comes in and comes out. In a negotiation, you’ve got to assume good intent but not assume good intent to where you are naïve and that you trust someone implicitly. If you have a mindset where you assume good intent until proven otherwise, it’s going to get you further down the negotiation and into your point, the keyword is trust.

This is a bit of a misnomer because most people think they are trustworthy. If you were to give a speech, which I do often, 10,000 people from stage and say, “Raise your hand if you’re trustworthy.” Every hand goes up. I say, “No. Put your hands down. Who decides if you’re trustworthy? It’s not you. It’s the other person. Have you behaved yourself into a reputation of being trusted by making and keeping commitments, holding competencies and delivering on the promises that you said you would? Have you over-deliver? Are you full of excuses?”

Trust is something that doesn’t happen. Trust is an outgrowth. You don’t trust. You get trust. You earn trust. It’s an outgrowth of people making and keeping commitments and doing what they say they’re going to do. We throw that word around a lot but it’s got a lot behind it, doesn’t it? You don’t all of a sudden say, “I trust you.” “Based on what?” “You seem like a nice guy.” You assume good intent but I need to behave myself into a reputation and a reputation, in my opinion, is merely the collection of all of your decisions.

Christine, you can’t see me over a long period of time deliver on my promises. I might be charismatic and might seem trustworthy. I might tell you I’m religious or how trustworthy I am but you will trust me based on a pattern of me delivering on what I say I’m going to do. Not what you want me to do, not what you think I should be doing but I said that I’m going to do this and I did that. That comes back to declaring your intent because you might think I’m going to do something I violated. I violated your expectations. I never agreed to that.

You never told me those expectations. If you do, I might say, “Christine, I can’t do a four-hour podcast. I can do a one-hour podcast but I can’t but you never told me it was four hours.” Of course, you did. You declared your intent upfront. You said to me, “Scott, we’re going to go one hour,” and I agreed to it. It’s a small example but people should be thoughtful around how they use the word trust and how or have they not earned the reputation of being trusted by someone else. People decide if you’re trustworthy.

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There are so many people in the marketing space, which you are eminently qualified to comment on. Will people buy from you if they know, like and trust you? I said, “I don’t agree with that. I don’t buy that way. I don’t need to know you. What is no? I need to have a feeling. Do I need to like you? I don’t need to have an intense dislike for you but I don’t necessarily need to like you.” Trust, to your point, happens over time. If I’m meeting somebody and I’m buying something, it doesn’t mean at all that I trust you. It means that I trust the outcome of what I’m buying or the results that I’m going to get. I have faith in that relationship.

I couldn’t be more aligned with you. I would build on what you said. My hair is one color and yours is seven. People buy because they have a circumstance. They’re in a circumstance. They’ve got to solve a problem and you have something that they believe can solve their problem. They have a job to be done, to quote Bob Moesta and Clayton Christensen. They have a circumstance and you’ve paid the price to understand their circumstance and you’ve created a product or service that does or does not exactly match their needs. To your point, “I’m selling some furniture now.” People are not going to buy this furniture based on whether they like me, know me or trust me. They’re going to be like, “Does this 12-foot table I’m sitting on solve a problem that they have?”

If I’m a jackass, if I jacked the price up, that might inhibit the sale but at the end of the day, they’ve got a job to be done and I do or do not have the capability to solve their problem. What might bring them back over time, what might empower them to be a brand ambassador to refer other friends to me, “He was so nice. We got there. It was in the same condition that he said it was in. He didn’t jack the price up. He put the dogs away because I have a dog.”

Now that takes you a step further to say, “He’s a good guy. I had experience with him and he accommodated me beyond selling me the table.” That’s how you earn trust for people then lend you their credibility. They lend you their reputations, their referent credibility and they refer people to you for something else that they may not need. That’s where the liking, knowing you and trusting you thing comes in when you’re building an ongoing relationship where they may have a different circumstance or want to refer someone to you. You can build that but I don’t have to like someone to buy their car.

To that point, my mom comes to mind. I’m from Montana and they live in a rural part of the state so my mom drives all over the place.

Is there not a rural part of Montana? What’s the big city? Missoula?

I’d say Bozeman, Billings, Missoula. They’re not rural but I’m from North Central Montana near the Canadian border so I grew up in the middle of nowhere. My mom is a financial planner. She puts a lot of miles on her car every year so she’s usually replacing her car every eighteen months. She has been getting her cars from this same guy, the same dealership for over 30 years. Even in something as simple as a car buying example, most of us don’t necessarily buy a car from the same person all the time but it is possible. She has sent him a lot of business over the years but she has built a strong relationship with this person. From a car buying perspective, she knows, likes and trusts him but it took her time to get to that point.

I happen to like Mercedes. I buy Mercedes. They’re safe, stylish and it’s a good thing for my family. Don’t make a judgment on my wealth or credit score based on that statement. Over the course of fifteen years, I have bought fourteen Mercedes from the Salt Lake Mercedes dealership. My wife, myself and in-laws, things like that. Sometimes I’m trading and sometimes they’re pre-owned or new. It’s not a $1 billion purchase. My wife, I bought a new Mercedes for her. We were down in Phoenix. She and my youngest son fly home and I drive the two oldest boys home with all of our pool toys, our dogs and all that stuff.

The car breaks down in the middle of Arizona. It’s 98 degrees. We’re in the middle of Arizona. This expensive three-month-old car breaks down in the middle of Arizona and overheats. We limped in Las Vegas with 2 boys and 2 dogs like Beverly Hillbillies-style stuffed in our car. We limp into Las Vegas, not the best place to overnight with a 10-year-old and an 8-year-old. You pull into the Mercedes dealership in Las Vegas the next morning. They’re courteous to us but they got thousands of customers looking to service. I’ve got 2 boys and 2 dogs and I need to get home in Salt Lake City. We’re halfway there.

IVZ 40 | Negotiation In Leadership
Negotiation In Leadership: The ability to make high-value decisions, show courage and leadership competencies balanced with demonstrating humility and vulnerability are the best ways to execute effective leadership.


The Mercedes dealership in Salt Lake learned of this and they called me up. They say, “We’re on our way. We’re driving a car with a trailer and we’re going to deliver to you a loaner car. We’re going to load your car on the back of our trailer and drive it home. We’ll be there in 5.5 hours.” They have no legal responsibility. They had nothing to do with this but they learned of this and they said, “We’re on our way.” The cars leave the dealership with a trailer and, “We will load your SUV on it. We’re taking care of you.” That may be a tangent but that’s trust. That’s repeated behavior. Do I like them? They’re fine. They’re not my house for dinner parties but they’re definitely demonstrating the principle of building loyalty and trust over time. They were there for me in a moment and they’ve been there for me. I will continue to buy cars from them and will until I die.

On the flip side, my husband, who’s a network engineer, got service and he based it on what the company vendor had put on their website. It was like, “We will do this in two weeks.” It’s been two months and it’s not done. It’s going to be another couple of months before it’s done and my husband is furious about it. Marketing is the start of every negotiation because of what you commit to doing on your website, what you say you’re going to do in your literature, promos, videos and all the things, you’re putting out essentially an initial offer. Maybe not with a price but the price is generally an output. I will be exceedingly excited when people stop negotiating price first and start negotiating all the things that go into the price, the process, the relationship and that price is an output of a negotiation.

What you described as an experience, I’m sitting here going, “I’m driving to Salt Lake to buy a Mercedes.” That’s an incredible experience. That’s marketing but it’s also the start of the negotiation. If anyone’s living in Salt Lake and buys Mercedes, you need to buy Mercedes from this company because this is insane. That sets them apart from everything. It absolutely shows leadership. It shows leadership in spades, that they somehow got wind of it, that you had broken down and they took the initiative. That’s the other part about leadership. It is an element of taking the initiative to do things that are out of the ordinary. Maybe there was somebody in that organization who and it doesn’t sound like there probably was but maybe there was that says, “That’s a bit overkill. We’re not obligated to do that.” An attorney comes to mind. He’s like, “We’re not obligated to do that.” Somebody may have stood up and said, “I don’t care if you’re obligated to do it or not. It is the right thing to do.”

They thought about it. They can envision Scott sitting on the side of the road with two boys and two dogs in the middle of the summer. Not just, “Is Scott going to buy more Mercedes from us?” They’re in sales. They want to earn our trust but they care.

For me, this is why this conversation around trust is such a huge conversation to have when it comes to negotiation because we have been conditioned not to trust our counterparts. We’re completely immersed in this notion that negotiation is a game. We’ve got to pick your cards and your game because different people call it different things. Some people call it a chess game, “I’ve got to be eight moves ahead of my opponent.” “I have to hold my cards close to my vest.” “It’s a bocce game, I’m going to toss the balls and see where they land.” In all of those, no, negotiation is not a game. Negotiation is a conversation about a relationship and you can’t win a relationship but you can get more value out of it. Building trust is how you start to do that and that is my flat-out philosophy on negotiation. That trust component is so important.

I have a complete vision lock with you. When you and I talked about whether you would invite me on. I was listening to you and I thought, “This might be a hard dive in the trenches with a negotiation person that’s going to talk about eat or be eaten.” That’s not the way I live my life. It’s not the way I lead. It’s not the way I parent. I hope it’s not the way I’m a husband. The more I started to learn about your philosophy, it’s tempting to distrust. There is a lot of distrust going on in the political sphere. Look at the pandemic, the virus and what’s happening. It’s easy to mistrust. It’s easy to have a scarce mentality. It’s as easy to have an abundant mentality. It’s a mindset. It doesn’t mean that you don’t extend blind trust. It means you extend smart trust. Was it Ronald Reagan that said trust and verify? I’m sure many people have said that many times.

It’s interesting. My wife has a different personality. She’s generally a distrustful person early on. She’s trustworthy, in my opinion, but I tend to go in differently. I’ve never been screwed in my life, Christine. No one has ever screwed me over. I’m a trusting person but I have safeguards. No one can take advantage of me because I do have some safeguards. I don’t extend blind trust to anybody but my wife. Even that, you still are two humans in a relationship. You’re negotiating. You have expectations and you’re matching but I like and support your philosophy that negotiation as a relationship is not one to win.

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Somebody said to me because we were having this conversation and they said, “Christine, you never walk into a negotiation without trusting your counterpart, do you?” I said, “Not unless they’ve given me a reason to not trust them.” As soon as two people decide to engage in conversation and we want something from each other, there’s already some level of common ground there. We all have one key thing in common and that is that we’re all human beings and negotiation is one of the most uniquely human things that we can engage in. No other animal is negotiating the way that we can negotiate.

I heard that coyotes have this genius skill of pretending to play with domesticated dogs, they lure you in and they go into the kill.

I have not heard that.

I haven’t either. We spent a weekend in Phoenix and somebody warned me that the coyotes that are roaming around everywhere, the javelinas, that they lure in domesticated animals like they’re playing and then they go in for the kill. That’s an animal, to your point, not a human.

There are people who do negotiate that way. We call them champions. A champion-style negotiator. We’ve come up with four different groups of negotiators.

Educate me. I want to hear this.

We have a champion. A champion is a champion for him or herself. They go into every negotiation thinking it’s a battle. They go in fully armed and fully armored and their objective is to annihilate you and to win at all costs. They will agree to things that are not in their best interest if they think it means that they are conquering you. We know these negotiators because they also brag about their negotiation. I talked to somebody who got all excited. He happens to live in a state that’s open and he and his buddies went out for pizza. He’s like, “I negotiated a 20% discount.” I’m like, “That’s not a negotiation. The cost was the same for the pizza place owner whether he charged you the full price or gave you 20%. You screwed him out of a bunch of money. That’s not a negotiation.” That’s how that style comes to the negotiation table.

You have a Maverick. Maverick, which most people in the United States, in particular, are this style. They go in and they’re a positional negotiator. They have their list of things. It’s not an exhaustive list. It’s whatever that may come to their mind. Let’s say they have ten things on their list and they fight hard for each of those points. Let’s say they get 8 out of 10. They go, “I’ve got 8 out of 10. It was okay. It was a decent negotiation,” but they don’t tend to realize that the two things they didn’t get may have added more value because they’re going down item by item.

These are the people who, when they’re going through a contract, they go line by line through the contract without looking and saying, “This clause here impacts that clause and what if we did this over here?” That’s not how they think. They don’t care about their counterparts. They are so focused. They want to win their points. They’re not going to try to annihilate you. They are going to fight hard to get what they want. They don’t care about their counterpart’s success or not.

We have a benefactor. A benefactor avoids conflict at all costs. They see negotiation 100% as conflict so they will acquiesce all the time and give because they don’t want to deal with the conflict. The challenge for them is they think they’re doing that in the name of the relationship. What ends up happening is that they often can become passive-aggressive because they feel taken advantage of so they sabotage the relationship on the back end.

The fourth style is called an ambassador. An ambassador is somebody who’s like, “I define negotiation as an egg.” I usually have an egg on my desk. That I usually pull out of my refrigerator. It’s like, “How do you separate?” Three people want this one egg. How do you separate it? How do you get three people this one egg? People usually say they’ll boil it and cut it and share it. They’ll scramble it and share it. Some people will say they will crack it and separate the yolk from the white. I’ll say, “What are you doing with the shell?” They’re like, “You throw the shell away.” Somebody will say, “Maybe I’ll compost the shell.” If you take a pen and you poke small holes in the top and the bottom and you blow on the egg, the white and the yolk will come out and you can separate so you have a fully intact shell. You have separated the yolk and separated white.

You can take the yolk and make mayonnaise. You can take the white and make an omelet and you can make a piece of art out of the shell. An ambassador automatically is looking to critique something common and figure out how to find more value out of it. They can be frustrating to negotiate with because they’re trying to do that with everything and some things are straightforward in negotiation. Those are the four different styles.

IVZ 40 | Negotiation In Leadership
Negotiation In Leadership: People are not an organization’s most valuable asset. That’s not true. It’s the relationships between those people.


You described in the ambassador the abundance mindset. You talk about this term as a win-win but you go into it thinking, “I want them to succeed and I want me to succeed. How do we get what we both need?” I’ve gone into negotiations before and I’ve said, “I’d like you to have my best interest at heart and I’m going to have your best interest at heart. Let’s see where that gets us.”

At the end of the negotiation where we’ll be done and I’ll say, “How do we make this deal even better for both of us? Is there something we can do to make this better?

You didn’t mention this in my opening but I spent over 25 years at the FranklinCovey company. I went through an amicable separation. I stepped off the executive team and I’m not an employee anymore. I’m the Special Advisor. I’m on a three-year independent contract. I was the chief marketing officer and the executive vice president of thought leadership. I was named executive officer and a public company. The SCC knows my name and my address. I’m legally liable for hundreds of millions of dollars of decisions we make to shareholders and investors.

After 25 years, the board and the CEO had some questions about my departure. It was a long-protracted partnership and it was a long and protracted negotiation to separate. At the end of the day, the CEO and the companies had my best interests at heart and I had mine in the company’s best interest at heart. There was no acrimony. No animosity. There were some concessions people made but to your point, we kept thinking about how this can be better. Both parties are happy.

There were attorneys involved and there was money exchange and there was intellectual property documented but at the end of the day, both parties would say, “We’re delighted with how it’s going and there might even be some ways to improve it.” There are some addendums that have come in place since then because we both negotiated with cards straight up, open kimonos. We talked about what could go wrong and what happens if this happens. We both assume good intent and the CEO may have been thought to be naive by some. Don’t underestimate him. Don’t waste your time. I was in an interview with someone and he said, “Some people underestimate me and I tell them, ‘Don’t waste your time. Don’t underestimate me.’” I love that quote. To your point, if you keep thinking, “How can this even be better?” That’s the foundation of a high trust relationship.

I don’t spend much time on Clubhouse but I was on Clubhouse. I don’t know what it was. It was a string of people over a few days saying the exact same thing. Those who were on the stage were saying, “A good negotiation is one where everybody walks away unhappy.” I was like, “That’s terrible.”

What’s the premise for that? What was their logic?

Their logic was you both had to lose something. You both lost something. That’s lazy and you’re not being curious enough to figure out how to make it better for everybody.

You have a compromised mentality. You don’t have a third alternative mentality. You don’t have a what-if.

I love that third alternative statement. That’s awesome. That’s exactly right. What is the third alternative? When you come into a negotiation from a leadership position because this is something I do naturally. I’ve taught myself to do it. I’ve been doing it for a long time but it’s different. A lot of people go into a negotiation thinking they’re negotiating for hostages or thinking that everything’s life and death. We’re negotiating business deals. It’s not a life-and-death situation. Let’s take some time to get creative about it and figure out how we make this work. I always say that a negotiation is a hopeful act. We negotiate at the moment with information from the past to divine a future that’s better for everybody involved.

Beautifully said. I’ve never heard it said better than that.

Thank you.

I want to memorize this. That’s a great tagline for your next book on negotiation. That’s not the title but that’s a great tagline for your next negotiation book.

You write one book and it becomes an addiction.

It’s like tattooing but it pays better. I don’t have tattoos. I don’t have a punch line here.

Trust is something that doesn't happen overnight. You don’t get it immediately. You earn it. Click To Tweet

I have huge tattoos. If you take negotiation and you look at negotiation from that perspective and if you believe that negotiation is about a relationship, it changes the entire nature and the whole playing field. Everything gets elevated. The quality of work gets elevated and how people feel about being involved in the deal improves. The employees and everything gets elevated. I’m on a mission to get people to think about negotiation from that perspective because, in that abundance component, there’s more than enough for everybody to have what we want in life.

You defined the role of leadership. Oftentimes organizations buy into this idea that people are their most valuable asset. You hear this human resource adage. People are not an organization’s most valuable asset. That’s not true. It’s the relationships between those people. That is your competitive advantage because Christine can have an MBA from MIT and I can be a Rhodes Scholar from Oxford. We can be the smartest people in the room.

If we can’t build trust, get along, compliment, apologize, forgive, pre-forgive because you’re going to say something pisses me off and I’m going to do something that pisses you off. Relationships are the foundation. Every company is now a technology company and every company is in the same business. They’re in the people and relationship business. I don’t care if you’re Four Seasons or Mercedes in Salt Lake City or Jack In The Box. At the end of the day, you are in that relationship business, including with you and your employees, vendors, suppliers and all that. Woe is the leader. Woe is the negotiator that forgets what business they’re in. Maybe your fourth book should be co-authored with me. Christine with Scott Miller. You would clearly be the lead author but I could be with you offering some nuggets along the way.

Tell our audience how they can find you. I loved this conversation. It is an amazing conversation. I love that we have a total mind-meld.

You know that it’s a good show when it moves from interview to conversation because the host always has plenty to offer. How to find me? My wife says it’s not hard and that’s not a compliment. She thinks I’m overexposed. You can Google Scott Jeffrey Miller. You can visit All the books are in the Mess of Success Series. I’ve written two other books called Master Mentors and Everyone Deserves a Great Manager. If you Google Scott Miller, the odds are high that I’ll come up. You can subscribe to my podcast On Leadership with Scott Miller. I write an article for Inc. Magazine every week. In the world of the internet, it’s easy to find me. For the IRS, I’m making it hard for them to find me.

You have to tune into Scott’s podcast because it is dynamite.

Do you know who you remind me of? I interviewed a woman named Jen Sincero. I went into it thinking, “Whatever.” It was amazing. I was open to influence and she crushed it. Jen Sincero wrote You Are a Badass. I interviewed her on her book, Badass Habits. She basically was giving everyone permission to be themselves and to be open, honest and transparent and to ask what they want for life. It’s basically the undergirding of all of your negotiating principles. Declare your intent, be honest with what you need, be interested and curious about what the other person needs. The Jen Sincero interview is great.

I’m excited because I love her and her first couple of books. She’s amazing.

She’s rich.

I love it when great people are wealthy. I want to see more people become more wealthy. That would be awesome. Scott, thank you for being here. It has been an honor and an absolute pleasure. I have had fun on this episode. Thank you for making it that way. To everybody who’s reading, thank you. I am so honored that you spend your time with us every week and on the show. Please check us out at I encourage you to check out his books and definitely check out the podcast. I will see you in the next episode. Remember, negotiation is a conversation about a relationship and you can’t win a relationship but you can get more value out of it. Happy negotiating. We’ll see you next time. Thanks. Cheers.

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About Scott Miller

IVZ 40 | Negotiation In LeadershipScott Miller currently serves as the Special Advisor on Thought Leadership for the FranklinCovey Company. He is the author of multiple books including the award-winning Management Mess to Leadership Success, Marketing Mess to Brand Success, co-author of the bestselling Everyone Deserves A Great Manager: The 6 Critical Practices for Leading A Team, and author of the upcoming Master Mentors and Job Mess to Career Success.

Scott knows what it’s like to fail. He was demoted from his first leadership position after only three weeks – and that’s just one of several messy management experiences on his two-decade journey to leadership success. Scott’s not alone. Everyone fails. But something sets him apart: his transparency and willingness to openly share his story in a way that is forthright, relatable and applicable. In his popular Mess to Success series, he shares challenges from his own experiences with guidance for learning from the mistakes to produce results and achieve the goals you hope for. The wisdom in Scott’s books has been learned through the school of hard knocks and honed through years of research and corporate training experience.

Scott shares his story, guidance and insights as a bestselling author, radio and podcast host, leadership coach, columnist, and global keynote speaker, which includes his role as host of FranklinCovey’s On Leadership podcast and monthly book club on debuting in April 2021.