Reflection - Women in Leadership (Week 4)


E-poster for MOOC Women in Leadership: Inspiring Positive Change - week 4


I remember the conversation I had with Periuza from the US Embassy, weeks before the course started. At the time, we were looking for the right profile to be invited as a guest speaker for the fourth session, in which we’d be discussing about negotiation as one of the essential tools for women in leadership. And I remember one of the questions I asked myself was, “who, in my network, negotiates for a living?” Because I thought that this person might be a good fit. (If you’re thinking of a lawyer, then we’re thinking the same. I, personally, blame it on Suits, if you know what I mean.)

But then the conversation got even more interesting when we explored whether the US study which shows that there’s a gender gap in negotiating is something we can also observe in Indonesia. (The study mentions that this gender gap can create—using Professor’s word—an astronomical differences between male and female’s salaries.) It then gave the insight that we should find someone who, not only negotiate for a living, but also has negotiated with people (both male and female) from diverse social and cultural groups and situations, and must have the perspective of the employee.

I immediately made a mental note to reach out to HR professional friends. Thanks to Yasmin whose networks came in handy, we then decided not just to invite one, but two of them.


The Lessons Learned

I think the video from Professor Bilimoria and the discussion with the two guest speakers provided more than enough practical tips on negotiating; what needs to be prepared before, during, and after the negotiation happens.

I don’t think I want to write them all here, instead, I’d like to highlight two things that are often overlooked, and one other thing which, I personally think, is profoundly beautiful.


Having the right mindset

Sometimes, the best way to understand something is by realizing what that thing is not. And what I learned from the session was that negotiation is not at all about demanding nor imposing, but it is more about understanding and collaborating. I remember one article I read on negotiation in which one of prominent US negotiation consultants, Steven Cohen, put it into words very well. He said that negotiation is not a competitive sport. He explained further that negotiation is not about who wins the game, but it is more about how the game is played. 


Kartika Akbaria (Tika), Head of Human Capital at KUDO and Mirza Harun (Mirza), Head of Field Human Capital at RUMA


To put it simple, here’s the litmus test. If we don’t even bother to acknowledge our counterpart’s needs and wants (in addition to our own), then that’s probably the sign that we’re not having the right mindset.


Communicate as clearly as possible

One of my favorite takeaways from the session came from some of the examples given by the guest speakers, Tika and Mirza. Both of them very much emphasized the importance of communicating our thoughts/requests/goals as clearly as possible. It is important to make sure that our counterparts receive the information well, because otherwise, misunderstandings can occur.

(It reminds me of one of the lessons I learned from Nuno Delicado, one of the lecturers in INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship Programme, about two sisters who fight over an orange. Their mother comes to the rescue and cuts the orange in half. She then shares each half to each of her daughters. Only then she’s surprised that one of her daughter peels the orange and eats the fruit, while the other peels the orange and uses the orange peels to make an orange cake. Yup,if only both of the sisters communicate each of their need clearly from the very beginning. The world would be a better place, you know.)

Another thing to add on this point is that it is not enough to communicate our desired outcome per se, but we also need to provide our reasoning for our counterparts. Our why’s.

(Didn’t I mention how the idea of ‘starting with why’ has been pervasive lately?)


Discussion session in week 4, on Negotiation


A kinder, gentler approach in negotiation

One of the reasons why I love this session was because it reminded me that Morpheus spoke the truth when he said that “there's a difference between knowing the path and walking the path” (I’m referring to The Matrix, if you wonder).

I’d known well even before the session began that the right way to approach a negotiation is to aim for a win-win. And I’d understood that it’s not enough for us to really know what we want, but also to think of what our counterparts want. Furthermore, I did acknowledge that, in negotiation, there should be a (fair) exchange which is agreed by each party involved. What I had not realized was that, unfortunately, the latter—if not well-directed—may potentially pollute the practice in negotiating. (Or at least, how we prepare ourselves in negotiation.)

During the discussion with the guest speakers, I ask each of them, how to set the range in which an agreement can remain satisfactory to both negotiating parties. You know, the bargaining zone. As I expected, the answer was rather simple when it comes to professional setting. To find the bargaining zone for salary, for instance, a benchmark and a little research will help.

But I supposed things can be more complicated when it comes to domestic affairs. For example, how do we negotiate with our spouse on house chores? (We cannot benchmark our spouse with others’ spouses, can we?) And I noticed something very interesting from the guest speakers’ responses, that none of them actually mentioned about this “bargaining zone”. Particularly on negotiating with spouse, they mentioned, again and again, the importance of listening, understanding, compromising, and collaborating. A kinder, gentler way in negotiation. A true approach to a win-win result.

As I contemplate on this particular part of the discussion, I would like to take a moment to remind myself that: yes, knowing the goal (aiming for a win-win) is what matters the most, but that doesn’t take away the need to check whether the path being taken really leads to the goal we initially set.


Group Photo at the end of the session



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