Day 27: How Do I Handle Politics?

Day 27:  How do I handle politics?  As an economic development director there are two sorts of politics.  Really no different than most other jobs.  But elected officials can have a bigger impact on our jobs than most other professions.  Today, I will talk about elected officials politics.  The next day, I will talk about organizational politics.  Elected officials are to be commended for taking the time to serve their community or county.  In almost every case they are serving because they care.  Sometimes they make decisions without complete information. This is where a good economic developer should be able to help them with the thought process.  I have had some issues with city councils and in every case, I will take full blame for any situation caused.  If I had a bad experience, I can pretty much point to the fact I did a lousy job communicating.  Of course great communication is two way communications.  I have plenty of great stories to share, but they most likely would get me in trouble, so I will refrain (for now).  But, I have learned that elected officials tend to speak first and then look for facts.  So,  it is vitally important to build a relationship with your elected officials that is built on trust.  You need to make sure someone within the elected body knows what your organization is doing and they are relaying the message onto the rest of the officials.  A great economic development organization sort of hangs in the shadows and lets the politicians take the credit.  But, you need to make sure your investors and boards know how you were involved.  The important thing is that you are the Director of the orchestra.  When you are all playing from the same song sheet you will make beautiful music and be a real success.  Economic development is a team activity.  Everyone must work together.  Only then will a community or region succeed.  Next:  How do I handle organization politics?

Next Previous