This is the seventh Blog in a series that continues the discussion on leadership in America, which is the central theme of my new book Leadership DNA: Why the Accepted Premise That Anyone Can Be a Leader is Utterly False and the Main Cause of Poor Leadership in America.
During every election we hear party leaders and individual candidates pronounce with great passion and zeal-bordering on arrogance-how they must be true to their principles, how they will never compromise on what they so steadfastly believe in, and how they have right on their side as they confront their opponents. As a people, we have been taught that fighting for one’s principles is a good and noble thing that should be respected. And the more a person stands up for their proclaimed principles, the more they should be applauded for their determination and courage of conviction. The problem with all this is that if everyone was willing to always fight over their principles, then this nation would become even more polarized and gridlocked; incapable of getting anything done. To reverse this debilitating situation we must search for ways to unite our country on common ground. To do this we need to define our principles at a high level. Maintaining a balanced budget, stopping illegal immigration, ensuring the defense of the nation are three examples of broad principles that the vast majority of people could adopt and support. If we stay focused on broad principles then we can have a meaningful debate and shared approach to solving our problems. We can debate and compromise over how we deal with issues provided we stay true to the over-arching principles. What we have today, however, are very detailed principles that are really party-line ideology masked as principles. There is little room for compromise because each side has defined not only the broad principle, but exactly how they are going to implement it. Typically, each side is locked in on about ninety percent of their proposals and announce that they are willing to debate and compromise over only a few minor areas or proposals; they must stay true to their principles which are nothing more than the polarizing and demonizing ideologies of the far right and far left.