How to Guide Your Candidate

A necessary part of understanding how to run political campaigns is that your candidate is the product— not the boss. You, campaign manager, are charged with overseeing the direction of every department of the operation so that it is run to effectively connect voters with your candidate’s message.

While some candidates have significant experience on campaigns, most do not and those who do are not justified in trying to be an over-active voice in the day-to-day decision-making of the campaign. For further reference on the idea of managing those who employ you, check out “Leading Up: How to Lead Your Boss So You Both Win,” a book by Michael Useem.

In the meantime, below are three things to remember as you work with your candidate:

  1. Your candidate is more invested in the campaign than anyone else.

  2. The candidate should completely own policy ideas.

  3. It is responsible to determine whether the campaign manager position is a good fit depending on how you see yourself jiving with the candidate.

Long story short: respect the fact that only one person (the one whose name is on your website and signs) is responsible for their reputation being made or broken dependent on the outcome of a campaign. Your job as the campaign manager is to lead the campaign efforts in a way that creates space for your candidate to focus on connecting with voters.