It has struck me recently that people who ascend to high government positions–as mayors, governors or even presidents–could do worse than to learn from arts leaders and other not for profit executives about creating loyal families of supporters.
Those who come from the for profit sector are trained to value, and believe in, results. Someone who has run a major corporation, therefore, and is then elected into a high government position, might be surprised when being right or being smart is not enough to govern effectively. They may have developed the appropriate strategy for their domain but have a tough time getting the voters to buy in to that strategy.
It takes the respect, loyalty and trust of a large portion of the electorate to govern effectively, to make tough choices and to propose and enact difficult legislation. If the voters trust their leaders, they can accept higher taxes, service cuts and even going to war. They may not be happy but they can be convinced that these actions are being taken to benefit the community as a whole.
We who work in the not for profit sector are used to the challenge and discipline of building loyal bases of support.
We cannot run a university, hospital or opera company without a myriad of constituencies who are willing to support us and work on our behalf.
We must woo donors, board members, audience members and volunteers. We must make them feel part of our work, excite them by our vision of the future, and allow them to share in our successes.
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