The Right Office

As we recover from the 2014 US elections, well we political advisors anyway, potential candidates are planning for 2016. The near certainty that a woman will be on the US presidential ticket in 2016 will provide inspiration for women around the country. A strong woman (insert: Hillary Clinton)at the top of the ticket will provide generous coattails women candidates down the ballot. Our inboxes and voicemails are beginning to log inquiries from women exploring the possibilities. I screened just such a call yesterday. After giving me a little background on her professional experience and community involvement I asked her to thoughtfully consider the following questions before making her final decision.

      1. Are you a consensus builder?
      2. Do you like making unilateral decisions and seeing them carried out?
      3. Are you a good manager?
      4. Are you patient and willing to work at a project for extended periods of time?
      5. Are you stimulated by debate that may at times be contentious?

Prospective candidates think about what they want to accomplish if elected but don’t often give much thought to the mechanics of the job. If her answer to questions 1, 4 and 5 are yes then I advise her to consider running for a legislative seat, a commission seat or council seat. Consensus building and patience are necessary to get anything done in a deliberative body where decisions are made based on the votes of the majority. If her answer is yes to questions 2 and 3 then she is a better candidate for an executive office. The offices of governor, mayor, county executive, county CEO or city council president are all executive offices. They all require management of the cabinet or administration that actually does the day to day business of the city, county or state. There is debate over whether serving in political office should be a career but the reality is that elected officials often make a career of serving in office. If a candidate is planning to run and wants to make a career for herself in public service she should make an inventory of your skills and assess her style of leadership. She should set herself up for success in office by choosing an office that allows her to put her skills, experience and past to the highest and best use.