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You … compared to a politician

Tom Wall Published on 29 October 2012

Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve liked politics, campaigns and elections. There was something magical about heading down to the old Town of Franklin voting “shack” that was heated by a wood-burning, potbelly stove. I couldn’t wait to go with my parents and stand in line with all the other people who were waiting to cast their ballot.

Although I’m still fascinated by the political process, as a tax-paying adult who “works too much,” it seems that the reality of it isn’t as charming as I once thought it was. The truth is … I’m afraid my cynicism and sense of logic has replaced my naïveté and sense of emotion.

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Nonetheless, here are a couple of things I’ve noticed recently about the path of a campaigning politician and the road of the real world.

1. Leadership roles are extremely valuable
According to campaign finance reports, campaign spending for this year’s presidential election between Romney and Obama is over a billion dollars. You don’t have to be good at math to know that’s a crazy amount of money.

So … what’s a leadership position worth at your business? No, you’re not trying to run an organization or manage a budget the size of the federal government. But let’s face it, everything is relative. And even if your company isn’t the biggest in your area, it still plays a huge role in the well-being of your family and the families of everyone who works with you.

The bottom line is this: Leadership is a big deal. Before you entrust someone with a leadership position at your dairy, think about why you’re willing to “hand someone the keys” to everything you and your family has worked so hard to build. (And yes, you did build that!)

Be honest with yourself and ask why you’re thinking about “making someone a leader.” You see, leadership roles should be earned by demonstrating solid character and achieving short-term and long-term results. The truth is that if they fail to prove themselves on the first one, I wouldn’t give them the authority to attempt achieving the second.

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Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who seek a leadership role simply because they desire the power that comes with it. But being a genuine leader is a lot more than having power and trading influence. True leaders recognize the enormous responsibility that comes with their position and know that they have a duty to serve their people’s interests, not just their own.

2. Politicians need most people to believe in them on just one day. You need all of your people to believe in you every day.
On the surface, getting a little more than half the people to believe in you just one day every few years doesn’t seem all that tough … but it’s that “one day” thing that makes winning an election so painfully tough.

So how do they do it? Day after day, politicians spend other people’s money and go around pandering from group to group, telling each one just enough of what they want to hear to get them to cast a ballot in their favor … getting all the stars to line up precisely at the right time is a lot of work! But do you want to know what’s even more work than that?

Being sincere and straightforward without pandering. Telling people the truth, even when they might not want to hear it. Spending your own money to make things happen because you passionately believe in your cause. And then … doing this consistently, day after day, in order to earn and keep your people’s trust.

In both cases, the stakes are high. But for politicians, they’re more concerned about their own job security, while you’re more worried about the security of everyone else’s.

As it turns out, business leaders can learn a lot from campaigns and politicians. Hopefully, politicians will start learning something from us. PD

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Tom Wall
President
Dairy Interactive, LLC

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