Unsolicited Advice: Backstabbers, Naysayers, Blame shifters

Whether you think you can Ford graphic

Having been a business and political consultant for 30 years means I’ve learned a few things about the kind of people you should have around you in your campaign. I’ve also learned a few things about the kinds of people you don’t want to have around you. If you have a team that includes a backstabber, a naysayer or a blame shifter on it then do yourself a favor and get rid of them now.

There is almost nothing worse on a campaign or a team than people who, through words or deeds, won’t accept responsibility or who are negative. Get rid of them.

Just this last year we consulted on a winning campaign where the power of positive thinking helped us time and time again. Early on, some people left the campaign after clashing with the leadership a few times on strategy and tactics. Of course, it might have also been because our first poll had us behind by 55-15. It felt bad at the time but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. A positive, committed team turned that into a 54-46 victory in just six months. There were disagreements along the way but we had a forward-leaning posture, great team chemistry and strong leadership. That’s a winning combination in politics, in business and in life.

Two Men

My first political campaigns were in 1984. I worked for two men, Bart Gordon and Joe Haynes. Bart won a crowded primary to become a congressman in Tennessee’s 4th District. Joe Haynes defeated an incumbent Democratic state senator. The confidence they placed in me launched a career in electoral campaigns that has now touched almost all 50 states and around 600 campaigns. I represented Bart and Joe, along with my business partner John Rowley, until 2010 when they both retired from their respective offices to focus on their legal careers and families. They remain my friends even until today.

Bart Gordon and Fletch 1984 edited Phillip North LL 7 12 2012 147