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Leadership Lessons From The GOP Primary Race

Over the last couple of weeks as the Republican primary race has unfolded, the precipitous rise and fall of prospective presidential candidates has fascinated much of the nation. But I believe that business owners have more to gain from the GOP primary process than entertainment—in fact, there are a number of valuable leadership lessons that have been illustrated in recent weeks. Below are three of the most important.

1) Turn setbacks into strengths. In the days leading up to the all-important South Carolina primary, Newt Gingrich was faced with a political nightmare: sordid allegations from an ex-wife had made their way into the media. But rather than accept the cruel twist of fate, Gingrich managed to turn the tables, painting the media as the villains for reporting the damaging claims. Most experts credit this strategy for resuscitating his campaign and thrusting him back into the position of the state's frontrunner. As the owner of a business, there is no question that you will face setbacks and failure. The only question is how you will respond to them. 

2) Be prepared. Rick Perry entered the primary race to great fanfare and was a prolific fundraiser. Unfortunately, he was unable to overcome several poor debate performances—including one infamous moment in which he was unable to recall the third of three government departments which he had pledged to cut. As the leader of your business, you can’t garner the respect of your employees if you don’t demonstrate consistent preparation.

3) Articulate your message. Despite an enormous, well-oiled, and well-funded political machine, Mitt Romney has failed to emerge as the consensus nominee. Instead, he has been defeated by candidates with far fewer resources in two out of the four states that have voted thus far. Why? Because to date, Romney has been unable to articulate a clear vision for the future that is compelling enough to unify his party base. As a business owner, it is your job to articulate a vision for your organization that keeps your employees working with a passion each and every day of the week.

As the leader of a business, it is essential that you are constantly looking for ways to become better at what you do. The GOP primary may be an unlikely source of leadership training—but if you are able to apply these lessons, you will find that you are a more effective leader than ever before. 

[Image: Flickr user Iowa Politics]

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  • Darin Simms

    A 4th lesson we can take is from Rick Santorum. Just because you're not the biggest, wealthist, or most popular does not mean you don't have an important role to play. You can be successful just being who you are.

  • OscarMarroquin

    What is the most obvious lesson from the GOP primary thus
    far?  Trashing your opponent works!  We are all (or most of us) taught early on
    NOT to speak ill of others.  "If you
    can't say anything good, don't say anything at all." 

    Newt's strategy in Iowa was to keep it positive, Romney's
    was to attack, the result, Newt was defeated. 
    Newt changed his strategy and went on the attack.  What was the lesson?  Play clean until you start losing; if you are
    not able to win people over with your positive message move on to attacking
    your opponent.  


    Imagine if you are interviewing for a job.  You reason that educating the hiring manager
    on what you'll bring to the organization will not be enough, NO; you'll need to
    tell them why they shouldn't hire the other candidate.   How would that play out..?