09/24/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Health Care, Tribal Warfare, and The Nation's Health

If the USA were one of my clients, the first thing I would do is a teambuilding to improve honest communication and trust. Unhealthy organizational cultures at war with themselves become disabled by stress, and are so absorbed in "Tribal Warfare" that they miss strategic opportunities and fall behind. If we do not stop fighting each other, we will fall behind as a nation-state, just like companies whose leadership fights each other.

Most of my time, as a CEO coach, is spent helping my CEO's align their teams to implement their business strategies. When the board assigns me to a company, the first thing I check is the health of the leadership team and the organizational culture. If they're involved in tribal warfare the leadership team is unable to see the best strategy, and have such low levels of trust that they could not implement a good strategy even if they had the right one given to them. People become so positioned around their tribe that their judgment is seriously impaired, and obvious solutions are missed. All they can think or talk about is how someone from another organization betrayed them, and how to get even ... sound familiar?

Companies who have a "Healthy High Performance Culture" are always looking at ways to position their company and it's products for strategic advantage. They explore ideas to find the best way instead of playing win/lose games. Individuals present their understanding, but are willing to let go of it as the dialogue around a problem reaches a better solution. No one is made wrong for presenting an idea, and everyone listens to see how that idea builds towards a solution. The reality of the market place then tests their ideas, and changes are made to optimize results.

We have a nation whose health by many measures is not optimum. Crime rates are higher than most industrialized nations. Life spans are shorter; the World Health Organization rates us at number 30; we have 45 million people without health coverage; and we have developed an economy that depends on people feeling they don't have enough. People actually say things like, "I like my healthcare, let them get their own" ... not understanding that they pay for the uninsured with higher premiums. Many people seem not to care about the less fortunate, and would let them suffer, die early, and not get preventive treatment rather that pay a little more taxes. What has happened to us?

It is like the Roman Forum under Nero arguing after the Emperor's violin concert while Rome burns. In my opening remarks to my proposed American Leadership teambuilding I would say the same thing I have said to other leadership teams:

"We must stop talking badly about each other in front of the people. We cannot succeed without mutual trust and respect, and anyone who breaks this rule will lose their position."

We need to let go of our partisan loyalties and find practical solutions to restoring our nation's health, both physically and morally. The Huns are waiting in the hills