Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Unusual Partners

"Clinton dismissed Obama as a 'talker,' not a doer....Obama said Clinton wasn't 'that concerned about accuracy or the truth'"

Dana Milbank, "3 a.m. Seems So Long Ago, Washington Post, December 2, 2008

And on and on. In Nonprofit Leadership I devote a chapter to Unusual Partners and Allies and how effective leaders need to choose unexpected partners and recognize how they may serve this role as well. I mull on the old adage, "no permanent friends, no permanent enemies," and reflect that the second part about "enemies" is harder for me. It's difficult because the process of becoming an enemy inspires a primal dislike, distrust, and aversion. How do you undo that? Love thy enemy, right?

So what do we make of Obama and Clinton after all those unforgetable barbs, pokes, and insults? That they didn't matter in the first place? That it was just politics? That sticks and stones, etc, etc.? If they don't matter now, did they matter in the first place? And if they didn't matter then, what's the truthiness of it all?

I remember reading somewhere that the fate of airplanes in difficult situations frequently depends upon the relationship and communication between pilot and copilot. My question is whether unusual partners can fly well together in bumpy skies?

1 comment:

Josh said...

"I remember reading somewhere that the fate of airplanes in difficult situations frequently depends upon the relationship and communication between pilot and copilot."

There is a great discussion of this in Malcolm Gladwell's new book, Outliers. His idea is that plane crashes are more likely when the pilots are from a culture where authority is especially important. A first officer may be reluctant to correct a pilot in such cultures, causing mistakes to go unnoticed.

Per the discussion about accepting enemies as friends, I tend to agree that it is extremely difficult. I don't think Obama and Clinton were really ever enemies, it was primarily a political dispute. While there were legitimate differences on policy (preconditions for negotiations, etc), those differences are relatively minor in the context of their shared beliefs and values.

In short, I think Obama and Clinton will make better friends than they did enemies.