Central Florida Political Leadership Institute Consultant Mark R. Mills shares the three keys to successfully discuss running for office with families.
One of the first and most important considerations for the leader who is exploring a run for elected office, even well into the future, isn’t about issues, voters or political climate.
It’s about the impact a campaign and public service can have on the family.
In my many years of training aspiring candidates, I’ve seen families and relationships embrace the opportunity of public leadership as a positive experience, while others had the opposite reaction, exposing a rift that led partners to go their separate ways.
The family consideration is especially crucial for single parents who must build a strong family support infrastructure around them before stepping onto the public stage.
In the successful Central Florida Political Leadership Institute (PLI), a no-cost, nonpartisan leadership engagement program of the Orlando Economic Partnership, we discuss several keys for how aspiring candidates should discuss the idea of running for office with their spouses, partners or families.
The application deadline to participate in the PLI program is August 27. Learn how to attend at no cost. Class size is limited.
Here are three keys for how to talk with your family about running for office:
Approach the prospect of a candidacy with your spouse, partner or family as soon as you’re thinking about running. Don’t elevate the tension of this situation by waiting until right before a decision must be made to force an answer. Instead, conduct an open and honest dialogue with the freedom to ask questions. Explore the opportunity honestly and agree to continue the conversation.
Your thought-process for considering a candidacy is likely far ahead of your spouse, significant other or family. They may be excited, ambivalent or even in complete shock. Allow the emotions to play out without being defensive or trying to win an argument.
Some spouses or partners will reject the idea of your candidacy because they assume they’ll be forced into a box based on how prominent political spouses act and are viewed in public. Everyone is unique and your spouse, partner or family should always have the freedom to dictate what role, if any, they will play.
Even if you follow every guideline for this discussion to the letter, sometimes the answer will still be “no.”
Then, you’ll have the opportunity to explore other avenues for being a leader of impact and influence in public affairs that can work within your family dynamic.
If the answer is “yes,” the experience can not only be positive, but rewarding.
I know PLI graduates who have made their candidacy and public service a family experience. They spoke openly and honestly as a family about the political process and turned their journey into life lessons that involved civics, living with a purpose and persevering under pressure.
They didn’t view the political-family situation as a minefield, but as an adventure, opportunity and privilege to positively impact lives and serve their community. You can learn more about the Central Florida Political Leadership Institute (PLI) here.