Could You Get Reelected?

Here's a question that might make you uncomfortable or maybe even angry. If you had to run a campaign to keep your leadership job, could you get reelected? In this era of anti-incumbent fever, my guess is that there are a lot of non-political leaders who would be voted out of office if their followers had the chance.

What prompted this line of thinking for me was an article in this morning's Washington Post about how DC's mayor Adrian Fenty is being booed lustily at just about every public appearance he's making lately. This is the reception for a guy who was consistently cheered back in 2006 when he was running for mayor and who, since he was elected, most everyone agrees has improved city services, raised test scores in schools and opened new libraries and rec centers.

He's gotten some great results, so why the boos as he runs for reelection? He may have gotten great results but he's blowing the relationships. He's argued with City Council over baseball tickets, he showed up late or not at all at the scene of major events like Metro derailments and funerals for murder victims, he's taken unannounced, paid for by others, vacations to places like China and Dubai.

He's gotten results while ignoring the relationships and is now faced with a serious primary challenger and boos everywhere he goes.

You may be thinking, "So what? That's just politics; that has nothing to do with my situation. I'm not running for office, I'm doing real work." And so you may be. But just consider this for a moment. If the people who are following you, working with you and for you had the opportunity to vote on whether or not you get to keep your job would they vote you in or vote you out?

The thing is, even if they don't get to vote with a ballot, they get to vote with their minds and, ultimately, with their feet. You may be getting stellar results but if you're not also attending to the relationships you're losing them. And if you're losing them, you're eventually going to stop getting results because they're going to check out on you.

So, if they were taking a vote on you and your job, could you get reelected? It's worth thinking about. Because even if you're not standing for reelection, you're still running a campaign. It's just a question of whether you recognize it or not.

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