THE BLOG
11/07/2012 03:32 pm ET Updated Jan 07, 2013

An Open Letter to Senator Mitch McConnell

Senator McConnell,

I know from my work coaching executives and leadership teams that great results come not only from vision, inspiration, and perspiration, but also from solid self-awareness about our strengths and development needs. The best leaders leverage the former and address the latter on an ongoing basis.

As a politician, you are clearly experienced, successful, and strong. You also demonstrate considerable candor. These are great strengths to be embraced. On the improvement side, you seem to be derailing when it comes to collaborating effectively with your colleagues. This is an important development opportunity for you, one that impacts all of us.

As you may have heard, collaboration among those with strongly competing views is the hallmark of a healthy leadership team -- something Congress in general, and yourself in particular, have failed to demonstrate during your tenure. The results are in: your lowest-ever job approval ratings, along with losing a few senate seats and the presidential election in 2012.

As a coach, I'm a behaviorist and pragmatist at heart, and love to look at several real-life examples with a client to find patterns and triggers. One note up front: elections seem to be your flare-points.

First, there was your mid-term eve (October 23, 2010) interview with the National Journal. You were asked what job you planned to do post-midterm election, and you replied, "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." Wasn't particularly focused on greater-good collaborative outcomes.

Second was your November 6, 2012 statement after the general election, "Now it's time for the president to propose solutions that actually have a chance of passing the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a closely divided Senate, step up to the plate on the challenges of the moment, and deliver in a way that he did not in his first four years in office,"

No matter how deliberate or politically strategic, those statements, which are no doubt candid on your part, are fostering a pattern of inaction on key national agenda items like creating jobs, agreeing on fiscal and budget decisions, taxes, immigration, defense spending, entitlements, etc. Progress on these is important for our future as a nation, not to mention your election odds for 2014.

Underlying both of these statements and your actions over time from one to the other, is the core notion that the problem and solution are not up to you, but rest squarely in the president's camp. For someone so seasoned in political leadership, it seems a rather glaring shortcoming - that you assume such powerlessness when it comes to crafting and delivering solutions.

Based on your distinguished career, I know you are capable of much more than derailing obstructionism. If you can align that capability with actual willingness to change, there's a real opportunity to enhance the discourse and debate, upgrade the collaboration, and rediscover the very best of the GOP, with you in the lead. That indeed might be worthwhile to consider.

David N Peck

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