Leadership Skills: Everyone Has Them

by Martín Diego Garcia (He/Him)

Leadership skills - arrow with one leading ahead

Leadership Skills:   Build  Capacity With Leadership Development 

Every good campaign manager is always thinking about how to develop and grow the leadership skills on their team. Everyone dreams of retiring someday, but many campaign managers and organizers often think there will be no one to pass the baton. We also hear time and again that campaign managers and organizers wish there were more skilled individuals to help with the large workload they are carrying. Unfortunately, what they do not realize is that it is on them to do intentional leadership development. If we are not training someone to take our job, we will likely stay stuck in that job much longer than we intended to. 

Here are a couple of adjustments to be more intentional about building up a leadership bench. Leadership development cannot and should not be reserved for one stereotypical type of leader. Leadership development has to be intentionally done for everyone on your team and for one simple reason. There’s just too much to do on a campaign to do it alone. Most of the time we wish we had more people at our disposal with the leadership qualities, experience, and skills we need to help get through a long to-do list. Campaign managers must always have their eyes open for moments of leadership opportunities and consistently look staff who demonstrate that they want to step up. 

Here’s a couple of tips for growing your bench of leaders so you can get more done and spend your time doing the higher-level campaign manager tasks you were hired for:

Retrain your Brain

When the word “leader” is mentioned we often think of a stereotypical leader who is a good speaker, a people person, and is usually the face of a campaign. Yes, that person is a leader, but they are not the only kind of leader. We need to retrain our brains to have a broader definition and perspective of who and what a leader is. Your data manager is a leader. Your volunteer coordinator is a leader. Your office manager is a leader. They may not be the face of a campaign, but their analytical, organizational, and coordination skills make them specific types of leaders. Their roles are a critical part of a successful campaign. 

The more leadership skills we can identify and grow in our team members the stronger our teams will be. Leaders come in different shapes, sizes, and colors and can bring an array of skillsets we need for a successful campaign to the table. As a campaign manager or lead organizer, it’s your responsibility to take note of the skills people have so you can grow those and teach them new ones. This way when you do want to retire or just want someone to delegate work to there is a skilled team member ready and waiting. 

Train Your Staff and Volunteers

Proper training of staff and volunteers is often the first thing thrown out the window when a campaign starts to get busy. However, it’s one of the most critical and important parts of ensuring the campaign is achieving its desired outcomes and building its capacity to reach more voters. Most campaign operatives learned their skills through crash course on the job experiences, and most would not have stumbled as much if just a little training was provided to give them a foundation of useful knowledge. 

When you provide our staff and volunteers with some basic training it will exponentially improve your campaign. They will be hitting the ground running and this will likely result in better conversations with voters because they fill more prepared, better data intake because they know how to capture information, and more capacity building for the campaign. For more tips on running a volunteer training check out our canvasser training blog

Give Everyone the Opportunity to Lead

When we teach our team members leadership skills by providing them with proper training, they will start to step up. As managers we need to keep our eyes open for the people stepping up, even in small ways. By offering opportunities to your team, volunteers, and supporters to step into leadership roles with even simple tasks, you’re trusting in their leadership, growing their skills, and providing encouragement. Next time around, you can add in more responsibilities if they show that they are ready to be a leader. 

These indicators of leadership skills can vary from volunteering, setting up a canvass location, organizing the snacks for a phonebank, or even just keeping the office clean. These actions show initiative and interest in taking on more responsibility and with a little more encouragement these individuals could easily be leading their own canvass and phone banks or eventually even running of office themselves. 

For more tips on running a successful campaign check out our 9 Political Campaign Tips blog