LeBron James is no stranger to the headlines. In 2010 when he made his big move from Cleveland to join All-Star Dwayne Wade in Miami it was all but a smooth transition. Now, four years later LeBron has shockingly decided to "head back home" to Cleveland, Ohio. And no matter your feelings on the situation, there are a lot of valuable lessons about setting your goals and knowing your worth that can be learned from Mr. James.
One of the first and foremost pieces of advice I can give to women looking to negotiate fair pay is to do your homework. You should never go in blind - research position salary ranges on Salary.com or Glassdoor, contact someone who is in a similar industry, or ask a professor or trusted colleague to try and get enough information in front of you.
When LeBron made the move to Miami his motives were clear - he wanted a championship ring. When you are looking to negotiate and creating a hierarchy of your wants and needs, you're forming your own championship ring. Do you need a low-cost family health care plan? Is a long commute to and from work going to be bothersome for you? Do you need adequate vacation to visit far-off family? Figure out what your company has the capacity to do and ask for it.
The second piece of advice I give is that silence is golden. Building up to LeBron's decision in 2010 and again in 2014, he stayed silent about where he would play. Teams were bidding and throwing out numbers while LeBron profited off of the anxiety about his move. Now, I'm not saying that you'll receive a 60-minute ESPN special, but speaking up for yourself can start with holding your tongue.
When negotiating, you don't want to be the first person to throw out a number - you may sell yourself too short, or price yourself out. You should also avoid disclosing pay history if you are trying to leverage a higher salary.
A good tactic for answering questions related to salary is by responding with things like "I'm sure this company pays their employees a competitive salary" or "I can give you the market range of my last position."
The third tip I give is to know your worth. Once you have equipped yourself with market data for someone with your skill-set, it's time to fight for yourself. There is no shame in a little self preservation. Where do you see yourself winning your championship ring? Is it in a different position, department or city? Either way, you have to decide what is best for you and be unapologetic along the way.
Last, I tell my clients to know when to accept an offer and know when to walk away from a situation altogether. Apart from doing your homework, this may be one of the most important elements of negotiation. Every year LeBron stayed in Cleveland could have lessened his chances of being a championship player. When you fail to negotiate, you deal with the residual effects of that in almost every aspect of compensation. You lose every dollar you don't fight for. And every potential dollar (bonuses, raises) you could have had if you fought for a stronger base.
In spite the backlash he receives from the rest of the world King James has completely embodied the idea of being the master of his fate and the captain of his soul. I charge you all to do the same, take control of your own destiny - I'm rooting for you!