How to Efficiently Transition from Campaigning to Governing

Jan 23

Written by Mike Sylvester

After spending months on end shaking hands, kissing babies, raising money, and making promises, many newly elected officials have been officially sworn into their new roles. They likely now have the following two words buzzing in their heads: “what’s next?” Effectively building an image to the general public serves as the first stepping stone to success, but it is another challenge entirely to implement the very promises a candidate proposes. How does an administration or elected representative overcome that issue effectively? Much of that success stems from the work done in the transition phase and the beginning of a term.

Many of LS2group’s team members have been a part of many campaigns and taken positions in official offices. We’ve gathered some lessons learned when transitioning from campaigning to serving. These strategies are not just effective for public office holders, but can be incredibly beneficial strategies for companies and organizations to implement as well.

Finding the Right People

The search for a talented team can be much easier said than done. For instance, some individuals could possess inordinate amounts of talent on the campaign trail, but lack the slightest clue on how to get governing work done (and vice versa). Playing to the strengths of transition teammates, and maintaining the right number of talented individuals are crucial to a smooth turnaround. Generally speaking, the best rule to operate off of is the Jeff Bezos rule: if a team needs to order more than two pizzas during their late night strategic meetings, that means there too many cooks in the kitchen and consolidation is needed. Knowing when you possess not only the best people in place, but also the right amount of people involved goes a long way in ensuring future success. These all ring true in the business world as well.

Setting Realistic Priorities

Acknowledging the fact that not everything campaigned upon will get implemented immediately helps in keeping everyone’s sanity. In every platform, some policies are more achievable than others. The same goes for any company looking to boost its productivity. Knowing which issues can get solved quickly and efficiently and which ones will take more time is imperative to showing the general public that they know how to get results. Setting an agenda that reflects that knowledge helps every member understand the vision of the administration and allows for them to hit the ground running post inauguration day. Overpromising in the transition or client proposal phase can lower morale when positive results fail to emerge, create undue stress leading to higher turnover rates, and lead to lower approval ratings from the general public if they come under the impression that they elected an incompetent group of people, or in the case of a business, think they sell defunct products/services.

Ensuring Effective Communication Amongst Departments

The members of central leadership within a company or a political transition team may know and understand their goals well, but if members of the various departments get left in the dark, their agenda will get muddled and difficult to achieve. A good transition team consistently meets with and heeds the concerns of their various departments in relation to potential proposals. The best leadership teams know when to lead and when to listen. If effective leaders wants their respective branches and departments to follow through on their orders in the best way possible, they need to know that their concerns are understood so that they can operate in a way that benefits every party involved, as opposed to strictly the administration or specific department. Every branch of government and every business operates differently, so it is imperative to establish early on the various leadership styles that resonate with various people.

Going above and beyond with these three strategies separates the good leaders from the great ones, and ought to be the first thoughts that come to mind when thinking, “what’s next.” When an administration in the transition phase finds the right people with proper expertise, sets realistic priorities to achieve, and communicates effective, so that everyone is on the same page, it makes a big difference.