Never snap at your staff. If you do, apologize quickly.
When was the last time you said something you shouldn’t have in frustration or anger? You may not be able to remember a specific instance but I’m betting it wasn’t that long ago. Even if you aren’t particularly prone to outbursts of anger, if you’re anything like me, you slip up every now and then.
This tip is true of any aspect of life, not just campaigns, but in the pressure cooker created by a campaign office, I’ve seen these lapses of control cause major problems.
As a leader, equanimity is one of your greatest assets. In the chaos of the campaign, you should stand out as calm. Think about the paintings of old battles with George Washington or Stonewall Jackson standing tall on their horse in the heat of the fighting. Maintaining your cool amidst confusion is one of the greatest tests a leader faces.
The other side of it is that your ability to cow and injure your volunteers and staff can’t be overstated. These folks are either working for free or little pay and are primarily motivated by the idea of putting you in a position of public authority. If you snap at them or put them down, the damage is catastrophic. Not only does it make it less likely that they are helpful moving forward, but it will likely also undermine their desire to put such a bully into a powerful position.
It all comes back to the golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. Praise their efforts. Kindly correct their errors. Let them know that you’re counting on them and that they are a vital part of the effort. Those actions build them up and help them take ownership of even the mundane parts of the campaign. It’s the only way to really win.
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Also published on Medium.