Authored by Christiane Montuori on Wednesday, September 5, 2012 at 4:26 PM | Add the first comment!
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Leadership often means helping individuals and groups face hard truths. There is no harder truth than understanding our beloved sense of autonomy is merely an illusion.
Let’s recap - Obama makes a speech in Roanoke, VA in July suggesting that people who built a business did not create their success alone. The Romney Campaign pounces on it, running advertisements and Tweeting, erecting billboards, pandering to the deeply-held myth of rugged individualism. And the GOP mocks Obama, using “We Built It” as the theme one day at the Convention in Tampa.
Gimme a break.
For sure, Romney played a central role in the success of Bain Capital and the Salt Lake Olympics. But he could not have succeeded in either without the enormous efforts of talented people and government assistance in the form of infrastructure and favorable tax laws. This is not to take away from his accomplishments, or yours or mine for that matter, but only to emphasize how interdependent we all are.
300 years ago John Donne wrote that, “No man is an island.” That was before global communications, the Internet, and easy international travel made it a truism. Today it is an undeniable reality even to the most rugged of the rugged Republican fantasizers.
To exercise leadership on the most intractable problems (think deficit, terrorism, Middle East, immigration, education, climate change for openers), we must begin by releasing the illusion of autonomy. No one, not Romney, not Obama, not you or me, can make progress on the toughest issues without incorporating the energy, the intelligence, and yes the perspectives of “the other”, of people with whom you disagree.
Purists will call that compromise, as they go down in flames, sanctimoniously. But the art of compromise is a leadership skill of the highest order, if you really want to make progress on whatever it is that you care deeply about.