Heather AndersonWhen CUTimes last week revealed the contents of the NCUA's bargaining agreement with the National Treasury EmployeesUnion, I expected some reader concern about cost.

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I did not expect board infighting regarding the negotiation process.

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On one side, Team McWatters claimed it had been shut out of thenegotiation process. Board Member Mark McWatters said he has stillnot seen a final copy of the deal.

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On the other side, Team Matz provided CU Times with alist of meetings to which McWatters and his staff had been invited.They claimed McWatters was provided with plenty of opportunities toweigh in, but chose not to.

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What we have here is a failure to communicate.

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I remember shortly after college I was working a temporary jobon a college campus, serving as an assistant in the aerospaceengineering department. The job was rather uneventful until oneday, when I made a wisecrack to a professor who was struggling withthe office photocopier. I suggested that only a rocket scientistcould figure the thing out, adding the zinger that oops, I guessyou are a rocket scientist.

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Word of my snark quickly spread through the department, and soonthe professor's arch enemy took me under his wing. He questionedwhy a seemingly intelligent college grad was working a temporaryjob. What did my parents think, he asked?

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I don't know, I replied. They haven't even come to visit mesince I moved here.

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His response quickly broke up my young adult pity party: Did youinvite them? Do they feel welcome in your home?

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It was a defining moment in the development of my emotionalintelligence, because the truth was, I had not made them feelwelcome. I had never even considered that I needed to do such athing. After all, just a few years earlier I was still in highschool, and if my parents wanted to enter my space, they justopened the door and walked right in.

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I don't know what happened at the NCUA during contractnegotiations, but outside Washington's inner circles, it doesn'tmatter. The end result was that the agency looked childish to itsstakeholders and the rest of the financial services industry.

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I recently read an article about executive behavior that citedresearch by Georgetown University Associate Professor ChristinePorath. Her studies revealed the difference between leadership thatis tough and direct, and one in which leaders display bad habitsthat cross the line into rude territory.

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One of those behaviors is pointing out a colleague's flaws infront of others. It causes some executives to feel excluded, whileothers feel like they are part of a club.

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Partisan politicking has created a clubby environment at theNCUA. It started shortly after McWatters was confirmed for theposition, and Matzappointed Rick Metsger to the vice chairman position. Themessage was clear: No matter what McWatters says or thinks, he willbe outvoted.

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Likewise, McWatters didn't play nice with Matz when he was swornin to his position in House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling's Dallasoffice. Matz was not invited to take part in thefestivities.

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That's too bad, because both board members have shown they arecapable of working with those on the other side of the aisle. Foryears, Matz and former Board Member Michael Fryzel worked out theirdifferences before proposed and final rules were added to the boardagenda. They weren't united, but at least they appearedprofessional.

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Likewise, McWatters still enjoys a good working relationshipwith his former TARP committee member Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who isarguably one of Capitol Hill's most liberal leaders and has areputation for sticking by her guns, even if it means disagreeingwith members of her own party.

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On Thursday, the NCUA board will review the mid-year budget, andI'm expecting plenty of public fireworks between Matz andMcWatters.

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While we've received comments from readers that debate is goodfor the industry, I hope both leaders are able to communicate in atough and direct manner without being rude.

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It takes two to tango, and both sides must bury the hatchet andtreat each other with mutual respect for the benefit of the entireindustry.

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