Central Florida Political Leadership Institute (PLI) Consultant Mark R. Mills shares three strategic lessons to guide leaders in choosing the right public leadership path.

She was certain about a run for her local city council and called to share the decision.

“Congratulations, that’s great news,” I said. “When you win, what would be at the top of your agenda?”

She began talking in generalities about city issues and then she paused.

“But really, I want to help at-risk children.”

She soon realized that city council wasn’t the best position for her, after all. And, through considerable research and reflection, she changed her mind and announced a run for an open seat to the state legislature. There, she could have a greater influence on state education policy, especially as it related to at-risk students.

She realized she had to align her passion and purpose with her path.

This story is not an isolated example. I’ve spoken with numerous elected leaders over the years who confessed the mistake they made of placing the office ahead of their purpose. This mismatch didn’t allow them to fulfill the difference they had once hoped to make.

In the Central Florida Political Leadership Institute (PLI), a successful nonpartisan leadership engagement program of the Orlando Economic Partnership, we want to make certain this misalignment mistake doesn’t happen to our future public leaders.

The Central Florida Political Leadership Institute is accepting applications to its Fall 2021/Spring 2022 class until August 27. Learn how to attend the program at no cost. Class size is limited.

Here are three of the strategic lessons PLI teaches to guide leaders in choosing the right public leadership path, whether it’s an appointed or elected office:

How to Choose the Right Public Leadership Path for You

Know Your Purpose

I’m a firm believer that success is designed backwards. Start by defining the difference you want to make.  If you’re building a house, you already know what the house will look like before construction begins. The same principle applies here.

Focus first on where your passion lies and what specific community issue or public policy you would like to change.

Know Your Position

Your where should match your why. Conduct research to ensure that the position you seek will give you the greatest opportunity to fulfill the specific purpose you’ve identified.

Know Your Preparation Hurdles

Make a list of the personal, professional and political hurdles you will need to address. How will your family be impacted? Do you have the financial freedom or flexibility to pursue public leadership? Do you need to build a political network beyond your business connections?

In the PLI program, leaders integrate engagement strategies through the development of individualized and confidential personal engagement plans and simulated team assignments to ensure that their path matches their purpose.

Through this process, nearly half of class participants will change their targeted elected or appointed office from the time they enter the program to when they graduate.

There’s too much at stake for our future leaders of impact and influence not to have their purpose and path perfectly aligned. Doing so allows them to make the difference they envision and our region needs.