Working with Differing Opinions
Are you old enough to remember when the two political parties in America weren’t defined by “Liberal” or “Conservative” monikers? I remember conversations when I was young about conservative and liberal politics within each party, Democrats and Republicans. This was a time when the vote tally sheet on any congressional bill was likely not going to be split simply along party lines. A representative was going to need to get votes from both sides of the aisle. They also understood that in their search for votes they were unlikely to get everything they originally wanted in their bill. It was a time when you heard your representatives speak about the need to be willing to negotiate and compromise.
The current political environment has brought to light the changes that have taken place in recent years. Somehow, we’ve entered a period where keeping anything constructive from happening in government is a more acceptable strategy than attempting to work across party lines to find a place that can work for all. It would appear to be more important our representatives align with their party platform than represent the needs and beliefs of their constituents broadly. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not so naïve that I’m unaware of economic and social differences between the parties that make compromise difficult, if not impossible. For this reason, I don’t think I would’ve been a good politician today. I like working to get things done, even with people I don’t always agree with.
This got me thinking. What if business worked like this? I remember many times in my career being faced with needing to make decisions amongst a group of leaders with varying opinions. I would like to believe I always maintained an open mind when discussing these issues with counterparts of the opposite belief and opinions. Though, I’m sure that wasn’t always the case. Many times, I approached these emotionally charged topics believing anybody that doesn’t agree with me was wrong. I’m sure they thought the same of my ideas. However, we all knew doing nothing wasn’t an option. Doing nothing was certainly not going to move us forward with success. Being willing to maintain an open mind and not discount others’ opinions usually allows us to see the entire picture. When we lead this way, we allow ourselves a chance of making the best decisions.
I would love to see more open mindedness, negotiation and compromise in government today. Hopefully as leaders in our respective organizations, we’re able to put internal differences aside for the greater good of the company.
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