Fast Company

Scott Brown is a Good Sign for Barack Obama

This column is about leading change and that's what I elected Barack Obama to do. I am one of the milions of independent voters who embraced Obama in 2008 and still have high hopes for him. Scott Brown is our next message to Washington. I hope Barack is listening.

Absolutely huge amounts of good will, dollars, people, and time are wasted on partisan bickering. The circus in the Congress is a source of constant consternation and pain for those of us who still hold idealism for the highest offices in the land. What we have seen in the first year of our new president is a series of moves that banked on a Democratic Congress. Scott Brown is our wake up call.

It's time for America to get beyond the angry posturing and mud-slinging. One would think the stakes are finally high enough that real work must be done.  Stakeholders must be courted regardless of their party. Silos need to be broken down. In the name of our children and the sacred trust of leadership, it is time that consistent, systematic, and far-reaching efforts are put in place to engage all sides in dialogues that matter.

I don't - and I don't think the majority of Americans - trust the US Congress. Obama has to change that if he is to lead this country - it's a Herculean task, and I believe he is up to it. However, it is a feat he has not been able to do as long as the majority are his hometeam.

Obama's recent activity has put too much reliance on support from within his party. He should not be appealing to Democrat majorities, but to honest-to-God engagement with all sides that surfaces the challenges we are facing and frames them in ways that bring people together.

We have sent a signal to Washington from Massachusetts - this is a bellwether move if ever there was one. Get on it, Barack. Bring everyone into the tent. Republicans and Democrats alike - get them all in there. It's time to deal. This is what every good change leader is faced with sooner or later. Your time has come.

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Seth Kahan has consulted for leaders in over 50 world-class organizations that include Shell, World Bank, Peace Corps, Marriott, Prudential, Project Management Institute, and NASA. His next book, Getting Change Right: How Leaders Transform Organizations from the Inside Out, will be published in May 2010. Visit his other blogs, GettingChangeRight.com, helping leaders with change, and FreelanceFortune.com for techniques on how to succeed as a free agent. Read him in the Washington Post On Success. Follow Seth on Twitter and learn more about Seth's consulting at VisionaryLeadership.com.

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3 Comments

  • David Gardner

    Seth...not all parties in Congress have shown up in good faith to do the work of the American people. Many politicians are not working for the stakeholders (you and me) but for the special interests that help put them in office and keep them there. Last week's Supreme Court decision exacerbates this circumstance. Congress is not being intellectually honest when they claim we have the best health care system in the world; our system is actually ranked 19th. Congress is losing its moral authority to represent us by virtue of the gridlock they create. I met with a Chinese businessman last week and we discussed the gridlock in our government contrasted with China. China, with its one-party system (he pointed out), is able to make rapidly make and implement decisions. He wonders if our two-party system is going to undermine the US and allow China to overtake us. Something to think about. I wish people would view Obama as President and not just a Democratic president who's time will pass. I join you in hoping Obama will find a leadership path in this horrifically challenging environment.

  • Seth Kahan

    Bipartisanship is not Obama's fault. However, because it is a significant contributing factor to the difficulty we face, he must take it on. Whatever progress he can make in that regard will contribute to the overall well being of our nation, which is his responsiblity... as well as yours and mine.

  • eric bergthold

    Seth, you seem like a reasonably intelligent fellow. Why is that people like you think that bi-partisanship is Obama's fault and his responsibility to fix? It's the message of the Republicans for sure, but the problem has been around a long time before Obama and will likely be around for a long time after. I do think Obama has tried to reach out to Republicans, but they are hell bent on blocking everything he and the democratic party tries to do. They have made it a blanket policy - no to everything. Democrats have done the same thing in the past.

    Why don't you ask republicans or independents, for that matter, to cross the aisle? Change isn't one person or one group's responsibility. It's everyone's.