The Role of Readiness

Project Management and Negotiations: Agile Coach or Football Coach?

Fabio Turel
4 min readAug 17


As a Project Manager, your role in a negotiation meeting is akin to that of a coach strategizing before a penalty shootout in football. We’ve previously delved into the significance of effective negotiation strategies, but now let’s unveil the power of preparation in situations that might seem to hinge on luck.

Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva from

1. Anticipating choices

Consider the opening coin toss in a penalty shootout — it’s more than a formality. Research reveals that its outcome, and the consequent choices that are taken, can shape the outcome of the game.

Identify and consider the importance of these metaphorical “coin tosses”. Even if they rely on an informed guess, these choices might set the tone and course of discussion, bolstering confidence and reducing hesitation.

If I had to wrap it all up in one single piece of advice, it would be this one: organize a thorough pre-meeting

2. Defining roles

Uncertainty breeds anxiety. Similar to how a football coach designates who will take penalties, make sure that roles and responsibilities are clear.

By clarifying who leads discussions on specific topics, you eliminate uncertainty, reduce stress and promote effective teamwork.

There is no one-size-fits-all definition of negotiation roles, but these ones are always present. It goes without saying, one person can own more than one (unless you decide that you want to run a “good cop — bad cop” kind of meeting):

  • Lead Negotiator — This individual takes the forefront in the discussion, steering the conversation and presenting key points. They set the tone for the negotiation and maintain a strong grasp of the overall strategy.
  • Subject Matter Expert — Different topics require specialized knowledge. Having a team member who is an expert in a particular area ensures that detailed and accurate information is conveyed.



Fabio Turel

A Project Manager must be a good storyteller. Stories about my profession, my interests and my passions converge in this place.

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