Welcome to the How to Run for Office Podcast from My Campaign Coach!
I hope y’all are having a fantastic Independence day! Growing up, my family and several others in our home-school group would annually recite the Declaration of Independence as part of our town’s 4th of July celebration. It’s always been a holiday that I’ve loved, even though my physician father rarely let us blow anything up, and today’s podcast is a sort of meditation on the significance of the day. No matter how much you’ve studied the document, you’ll either learn something new or hear about the Declaration’s impact in a new way.
As a candidate, you are a leader of your campaign and you’re seeking a much larger leadership role through elected office. Now is your time to demonstrate to those around you that you can lead well. If you can’t pass the leadership test on the campaign trail, why should I believe that you’ll suddenly transmogrify into an awesome leader upon winning the election?!
The first place to set the tone for your leadership within the campaign is by setting the pace and tone. You shouldn’t expect anyone on your team to be more focused, work more hours or invest more heavily in the campaign than you. If you want honesty and transparency to be key values within your future public administration, show yourself to be honest and transparent within your campaign and to your team.
And once you’re setting the pace for the team, don’t be a jackass and beat people over the head with how much harder you’re working than they are! Of course, you’re working more hours than anybody else. It’s YOUR campaign!! There are plenty of constructive ways to deal with team members who are slacking. Comparing their work to yours is one important way NOT to do that.
I’m not just talking about someone who actually makes a conscious decision to manage their campaign. That’s a fairly rare occurrence. The bigger problem is candidates who ACT as their own campaign manager, even though they’ve given that role to someone else.
Campaigns are fast-paced and often brutal. The Military Genius Carl Von Clausewitz said that “politics is war by other means,” and he was completely right. As in war, concentrating decision making and execution authority in one person is a really bad idea. It stifles creativity, paralyzes the team and creates huge informational blind spots. In war, this gets people killed. In campaigns, you lose.
Within your campaign, you should cultivate a culture of decentralized command. Clearly delegate responsibility for decisions and actions within your team. Train them well and trust them to execute. Seek their counsel and don’t waste anxiety on their small mistakes.
By building this type of organization, you’ll be freer to do what a candidate is supposed to do: talk to voters and donors. Virtually everything else should be off your plate. Worrying about the walk lists for Saturday or whether you have enough of the right sizes of t-shirts for the next volunteer shift isn’t your job. Getting wrapped up in your campaign manager or field director’s field of fire will only cloud your mind and push you off your game.
Leadership isn’t a state of being, it’s a skill. One that needs to be constantly honed. You can’t be TOO good at leadership. But it’s really easy to be a bad leader.
This week we’re taking a look at a chapter from Extreme Ownership (by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin) which discusses the principle that there are “No Bad Teams, Only Bad Leaders.” It’s something that I believe and as you strive to hold a larger leadership role, whether in public service or within a campaign organization, it’s an attitude and belief you need to adopt.
I quote at length from Chapter 2 of Extreme Ownership and give some commentary to illuminate the lesson. Then we wrap up the episode talking about the specific ways that the knowledge contained within the chapter applies to your campaign.
It’s a bit of a departure from our normal episode type but after hearing complaints from a number of friends and listeners about bad leaders making the failings the chapter discusses, I felt it was important material to share. I hope y’all enjoy it!
Show Notes:[00:00] Introduction [03:45] Extreme Ownership: No Bad Teams, Only Bad Leaders [18:43] Campaign Application [32:01] Conclusion and Outro