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August 25, 2011

Filling The Shoes for Success

Amanda Haddaway

The current crop of Republican presidential candidates is less than awe inspiring, and many knowledgeable voters are already grumbling, “Can’t we find someone better?”


The Republican Party could find someone better, but they would have to totally rethink the way they have been doing things since the creation of the party. They need to use a little business practice known as succession planning and development.


Succession planning is used by many organizations to help identify future leaders. As the members of the executive management team leave for other opportunities or retire, there are existing professionals in the organization that can step into the shoes of their predecessors and hit the ground running with very little downtime.


A solid succession plan allows for things to happen in the organization but keeps the focus on the organization’s mission and ensures that the leadership positions aren’t vacant for a long period of time. Essentially, businesses are making sure that their corporate boats aren’t without captains and crews.


The Republican Party knows that there is a presidential election every four years. They also know, or at least have access to information on, state and local election schedules. It’s not a great mystery, yet it seems that every time the election cycle comes around, there’s a scramble to find qualified candidates. At the local level, there have been instances where parties haven’t run even one candidate for an office. This scenario is disgraceful at best. One of the main purposes of the central committees is to identify and encourage candidates to run.


The party should reach out to a diverse group of candidates. The perception that all Republicans are old, white males simply isn’t true, but the stigma needs to be replaced by recruiting candidates of various ages, ethnicities and genders. These factors don’t determine success or failure in politics, but diversity can help in the way that we look at problems and identify creative ways to solve them. If all the candidates are cookie-cutters of each other, we lose the discussion that sometimes results in the best solutions.


The Republican Party has also failed in the area of development. From the local level all the way up to the presidential level, there is very little training available to teach someone how to be a successful candidate and how to run a victorious campaign. In fact, those who run at the local level are at the greatest disadvantage because local campaigns are often ill-funded. Money can’t necessarily buy a victory, but it sure does help with name recognition and candidate awareness.


By properly identifying possible candidates, the party can work to train them on the essential skills and abilities necessary to be a viable candidate. For all levels of candidates, there should be some training on budgeting and financial planning, ethics and human resources. After all, elected officials are often responsible for huge budgets and large numbers of employees. The nuts and bolts of how to run an effective and legal campaign would also be helpful. Instructors for the courses could be former and current politicians who have experienced these tasks first hand.


Will this happen anytime soon? Cynics will say probably not. Let’s hope the Republican Party proves them wrong.



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