“I assembled this team because I am a strong believer in strong personalities and strong opinions. I think that’s how the best decisions are made. One of the dangers in a White House, based on my reading of history, is that you get wrapped up in group-think and everybody agrees with everything and there’s no discussion and there are no dissenting views. So I am going to be welcoming a vigorous debate inside the White House. But understand, I will be setting policy as president. I will be responsible for the vision that this team carries out, and I will expect them to implement that vision once decisions are made.”
Ah, if only more leaders were strong enough to consider a point of view that may not jibe with their own. Not just political leaders, all of them.
I have worked for persons who didn’t like the idea of debate in the workplace, even when it was conducted in the interest of delivering a smarter and better result. After a while my existence at these organizations became absolutely pointless and I quickly lost interest in the work and ultimately employment. Not because I feel the need to fight each and every little battle. It’s just that we don’t live long enough on this Earth to go through life jumping off bridges or drinking instant grape beverage each and every time we’re asked to do so.
My mentor in college, Jim Avery, once told me, “If two people think alike all the time, one of them is redundant.” From the many pieces of advice I received in college that line will always remain in active memory (the other piece of advice: “Get out of Alaska as soon as you can.” Well, I’m almost ten years Alaska-sober now and haven’t touched an ulu in fifteen). The more you live and work around people who rarely present a different viewpoint, the softer your brain gets, the more complacent you become, and before you know it Wilford Bradley is the only one who makes any sense in the world.