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Katherine Tyler Scott
Business leader

Katherine Tyler Scott

Katherine Tyler Scott is Managing Partner of Ki ThoughtBridge, a leadership consultancy, and is author, most recently, of Transforming Leadership: The Episcopal Church of the 21st Century. She is a board member of the International Leadership Association.

Painting states into colors

Q: Winning an election often involves taking a strong ideological position to energize a partisan base. Actually governing, however, usually requires compromise. Will today's Republican leaders be able or willing to pivot successfully from campaigning to governing? Are there lessons from other fields on how to do it?

Campaigning and governing are two phases in the complex process of becoming an effective political leader. With any luck, the first phase is one in which the potential candidate explores the internal and external motivation for running, and for our sake has moved beyond narcissistic and/or transactional motives toward a desire to accomplish something for the common good.

Candidates running for political office are by necessity in a mode of telling and selling: this is who I am; this is what I believe; and this is what I will do if elected. Their chief job is to convince the electorate that they have the qualifications to meet the interests of the voters through a combination of idealism that inspires hope and realism that motivates real change. They must sell a vision of improvement while promising specifics, some of which they will not have total control over. It is a challenging sell if the individual has integrity and is at a high level of moral development.

Governance requires understanding that attaining change that will improve the lives of all Americans demands leadership that accepts the diversity of perspectives and opinions and is willing to engage with those who represent these differences. Governance demands skills in collaboration and negotiation, so that actions taken will positively affect the health and well being of all of the citizens in this country.

The current political campaign language is deeply divisive. Painting states into colors denies our diversity and reinforces the delusion of independence. It rewards insularity and social callousness, i.e., "if I have adequate health care and you don't it's not my problem"; "if my children can get the best education and yours can't, that's too bad"; "if I make over $250,000 a year and your annual income is less than $30,000, I shouldn't care that you live in poverty"; "if I have two or more houses and you have none, why should I care that you are homeless?"; "if I can go to any physician I want and get whatever medical procedure I need, why should I be concerned that you can't without bankrupting your family?"

Are we choosing leaders who cultivate a self-serving culture that has the potential to destroy us? The current campaign rhetoric seems to be producing an adversarial, mob-like mentality, with people being easily manipulated by simple sound bytes from those more interested in their own status than in the health of the nation. I don't think we can afford to have anyone in a position of power that refuses to work for the larger good and only cares about their own constituency.

From what I have observed the most prominent leaders in the Republican Party are far more interested in position and the raw exercise of power than in governance. There is no Republican agenda I have seen that intends to address the deep divides of class or race. I have heard nothing that indicates any actions in the future that will bring us closer together as a nation.

If their self professed strategy of blocking whatever the president or the Democrats initiate "works," there will be minimal motivation to change. Republicans have even voted no on legislation they support because it would have made the Democrats look successful! It seems that the larger public interests have been forgotten and neglected and the more reasonable voices have been silenced. Those who vote for such leaders are sending a signal that they prefer partisanship over progress. Sending more politicians of this ilk to Washington or any other place is like putting your car in reverse and then getting mad because you haven't reached your destination.

Whatever our political party affiliation, we should choose leaders whose top priority is our well being and not the primary goal of "making sure that the President has only one term." That is campaign talk, not governance leadership.

By Katherine Tyler Scott

 |  October 26, 2010; 12:17 PM ET
Category:  Accomplishing Goals , Congressional leadership , Government leadership , Leadership weaknesses , Political leadership , Politics , Presidential leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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The expected Republican gains in Congress mean that the next two years will be a do-nothing era, filled with rancor, recriminations, and accusations. They are not interested in governing, their only interest is in tearing down what exists. Neither the public, the middle class, or the national interests matter to them.

Business will have a free hand to do as it pleases. Let us hope the choices made by business do not lead us into a deeper phase of the Recession that their most recent excesses, under Bush, led us into.

Posted by: samsara15 | October 29, 2010 3:37 PM
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Ms. Scott has described very well the qualities of a leader who can govern. Unfortunately, Obama lacks all of those qualities.

Posted by: delusional1 | October 27, 2010 1:46 PM
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If the Republicans take back the house, I do not believe they will pivot easily into governing. They will probably wave it in the Democrats faces for the rest of 2010 and start dismantling the past two years in 2011. It's going to be painful, very painful!

Posted by: bestowens | October 26, 2010 8:01 PM
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GOOGLE--"On the issues" website, and then decide your voting preference. In addition GOOGLE—illegal alien costs. I'm a Tea Party Blogger, Independent voter, National Sovereignty proponent and will be watchful of organizations canvassers’ similar to ACORN, which registered illegal aliens to vote, as well as deceased people and even fictitious people living in vacant lots. GOOGLE--Voter fraud, it's a crime against US citizens and naturalized Americans and as a federal offense is a prison conviction. Incidentally Tea Party people do not genuflect to either party and are strongly opposed to either ideology.

Gubernatorial Jerry Brown and many other Governors stretched from one state capitol to another, including the Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco and are--ALL--for approving Sanctuary City policies. Then most definitely Jerry Brown has proved himself to be--PRO AMNESTY from his past record. He can join the far left Democrats or a proportion of elected officials, Mayors, Chief of Police who are from Liberal fringe hiding beneath a cloak of respectability. Jerry has stated very clearly he wants a path to citizenship for those in the country illegally. Jerry also opposes Arizona's new SB1170 immigration law. Says it's not the state's job to crackdown on employers who hire illegal immigrants. Then unlike Whitman, he also supports the Dream Act for students who are illegal immigrants. In other words he is in keeping with most Lib-Democrats, who would infuse this country with uneducated, non-skilled labor and the families, which American taxpayers usually end up paying for and their children.

Once here they begin to have numerous children, who receive instant citizenship and an extremely expensive $$$ weight dumped on citizens and residents. Whitman stated we should have a guest worker program for agriculture. Whereas Whitman wants a secure border, before determining what should be done with those now who entered the country illegally, also wants a crackdown on employers who hire illegal immigrants. Supports Arizona's right to enact its new immigration law, but opposes it here. Trouble with Meg's idea of a Guest Worker program, the farm labor already here when Reagan signed the Simpson/ Mazzoli bill, deserted the farms and entered into the mainstream of the American labor force; in addition it was overrun with fraud. Any commitment to another Guest Worker program must be considered as temporary, with no possibility as a Path to citizenship.

Posted by: infinity555 | October 26, 2010 1:23 PM
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A vote for any Democrats is a vote for—AMNESTY. A vote for Amnesty, is promoting a rise in—spiraling TAXES. Voting for Senators Reid, Boxer, and any hidden Liberal, is a vote for loss of our countries sovereignty. Since the inception of the Obama administration, our rights as citizens have eroded away. This is a sample of what Senator Harry Reid has in store for us, if he is reelected? An AMNESTY--for 13 to 20 million illegal aliens, with a price tag of 2.6 Trillion dollars to process each individual and subsidize their welfare programs, according to the analysts at the Heritage Foundation. Nationals send approximately $60 billion annually out of the country in remittances Western Union, Wells Fargo, and other banks, plus an estimate $113 billion dollars at the local level of government for public benefits. Harry Reid voted to continuously fund Sanctuary cities and States, so did Senator Barbara Boxer of California.

Harry Reid and the majority of democrats crashed American-English as the recognized language of this country, and voted for illegal aliens to participate in our wilting Social Security System, placing Senior citizens pensions at risk. Senator Reid, Boxer and the largest proportion of Lib-Democrats voted equally, to what top Democrats wanted every time and that is killer Immigration Reform. Dems and Republicans neglected the very substantial laws of the 1986 Immigration Control and Reform Act specifically illegal hiring where a business was concerned. This is sheer madness when his Nevada has the largest proportion of jobless Americans, the highest rate of bankruptcies and home foreclosures. Another fact is that Reid voted yes, to continue public entitlements, including unemployment benefits to foreign nationals. Reid did nothing to stem the movement of discount labor into Nevada, during the real estate boom.

Contractors used these people, cutting off the rights of citizens and green card holders to eligible jobs. Reid must have turned senile when he states that there are no illegal aliens in Nevada. As with many Border States the giant inflow of illegal labor, the crippling economy and the need for sustenance is now devouring public benefit dollars. In the last ten years Dem-Libs have failed to complete the real DOUBLE SECTION fence along the full length of the border with Mexico, but sued Arizona for trying to defend its citizens from overflow of monetary illegal aliens, criminals and even foreign grown terrorists. Even now backdoor Amnesty is going on in courtrooms, especially in Texas where ICE is releasing non-criminal aliens back to our communities. Senator Reid, along with Barbara Boxer challenged E-Verify, the local policing law 287 (G) yet pushing to award tuition to children of illegal aliens for a college and state universities education, when American students cannot even afford the escalating fees.

Posted by: infinity555 | October 26, 2010 1:21 PM
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