Enemies or Friends? — An Unlikely Alliance
A few weeks ago, our family visited the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas, Texas. I was struck by a letter on display from the late Senator Ted Kennedy to the newly elected President Bush.
The letter, in part, stated:
“…like you, I have every intention of getting things done, particularly in education and health care. We will have a difference or two along the way, but I look forward to some important Rose Garden signings. Warm Regards, Ted Kennedy”
Why did these two sentences, within a hand-written note, stand out to me? It told me more about the two men than I had known. While both of these very powerful, independent men were on opposite sides of the aisle, politically, they both knew the importance of interdependence and working towards a common goal in spite of their differences.
Both men were passionate and driven to get things done. Senator Kennedy was upfront in saying they would have their differences along the way. However, both men looked beyond the hills in front of them and focused on the Rose Garden ceremonies.
Kudos to Senator Kennedy for writing the note and kudos to President Bush for picking this letter, out of the thousands sent to him, to be displayed in his library. A great glimpse of two independent men showing their interdependence.
What does this teach us about our leadership? We should consider spending less time trying to flex our independent strength, as leaders, and begin recognizing the importance of interdependence. Having opposing views is not a negative—you’ve heard the saying: “If two people agree on everything, then one of them is not necessary!”
Picture in your mind a person you just simply don’t see eye-to-eye with on an issue, subject or project you are currently working on right now. How do you stop butting heads as two strongly independent people and begin working together as two people who are interdependent with a common end game?
- Do some homework—discover what the other person cares about and validate those things
- Understand that the other person has a unique position based on their passions, perspectives and experiences which are all valuable in the process
- Be upfront and realistic with each other that you will have differences along the way
- Write them a “Kennedy/Bush” email or say something verbally to them to communicate that you value them
- Keep the “Rose Garden Signings” in sight!
Abraham Lincoln once said, “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” Go out today and make one of your enemies a friend.