Last week, President Obama broke bread with twelve Republican Senators. Both sides described the dinner as enjoyable and constructive. What an amazing and welcome change.
Though bi-partisan differences abound, the President and Congress are members of the same team, elected by us, to work together to solve our country’s most pressing problems. Recently, America’s team of leaders have not been functioning very well. We have all witnessed scores of personal attacks, a steady stream of vitriol, and an eagerness to blame the other side for our country’s problems. Basic civility, cooperation and the willingness to come together to address America’s challenges has been sorely absent.
High-functioning teams cultivate strong relationships between teammates. The best teams have relationships with teammates who trust each other, care about each other, and are able to speak to each other without fear of personal attacks or judgments.
With this foundation, team members engage in open, honest and candid discussions about their differences so they can solve their common problems. Because they listen openly to each other’s perspective, team members can build solutions that incorporate the best of each participant’s ideas.
None of us are given the relationships we want – we get the relationships we manage to create. Great relationships take time, effort, a willingness to be vulnerable, and they require a desire for the relationship to succeed.
Hopefully, last week’s White House dinner was a first step in creating those kinds of relationships among our national leaders. Because although we may disagree about what needs to be done, we all know we certainly need them to work together as a team to address our country’s most pressing issues.