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The Art of Leadership, Winning Elections and Governing

  Jan 18, 2013

Prof. Steven Jarding, a professor from Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, delivered a key note speech at Strathmore Business School on The Art of Leadership, Winning Elections, and Governing during a breakfast event on Tuesday, 15th January 2012. He stated that the first rule of getting elected is to run at the right time and win; run at the wrong time and lose.

The well renowned expert in campaign management and political strategies shared insights on the strategies major politicians employ to win campaigns. Interestingly, Prof. Jarding listed body language as one of the major factors people use to judge if they will vote for a candidate. He stated that the universal method of winning people at first sight is a smile and aspiring politicians need to present the image of friendliness and confidence at all times.

Prof. Jarding further acknowledged key reasons why many people shy away from politics which include lack of enough monetary funds, lack of awareness of issues, bad public speakers and fear of ‘skeletons in the closets.’ He advised aspiring politicians on how to bridge these gaps:

  • Start saving as early as possible (at least 5 years from campaign period). This will ensure that you have enough funds to sustain the campaign.
  • Set aside as little as two hours a week to research on issues that are affecting your constituents. This will enable you to acquire a lot of valuable information that will increase your chances of winning the elections.
  • Don’t be afraid if you do not possess good public speaking skills. The key to overcoming this is to practice! practice! practice! Set some time aside to hone your skills in addressing audiences by practising in front of the mirror or camera. By the time you vie for a seat, your media skills will have greatly improved.
  • Everyone has skeletons. This should not deter you from vying during the elections. People are willing to forgive past mistakes as long as one demonstrates that they have left their mistakes in the past and has learned from them. Move beyond your past.
  • Be yourself.
  • Image is more important than substance therefore present a strong, believable and disciplined message.
  • Remember, character is more important than policy.
  • Know everything about your county including your people’s culture, demographics, socioeconomic status, employment statistics etc.
  • Know your people’s fears and insecurities and address them.
  • Know what matters to your people and capture their hearts by talking from the heart. This shows that you care.
  • About Prof. Steven Jarding

    Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Expert in campaign management and political strategies.

    Prof. Jarding has managed campaigns or served in senior roles for U.S. Senators Tom Daschle (South Dakota), Bob Kerrey (Nebraska), Jim Webb (Virginia), John Edwards (North Carolina), Tim Johnson (South Dakota) and Mark Warner (Virginia).

    He has run National Leadership Committees for Kerrey and Edwards and served as senior adviser to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. In 1996 Roll Call Magazine named Jarding one of the “50 most influential” political people in Washington and, in 2002, The New York Times Magazine profiled Jarding as “someone who wins races in places he is not supposed to win.”

    His management of Warner’s 2001 gubernatorial race was hailed the best-run campaign in the U.S. and his work in Webb’s 2006 win over Senator George Allen was noted as one of the biggest upset victories.

    He has been a Fellow at the Harvard Institute of Politics and a Fellow at the Congressional Studies Center at the University of Oklahoma, where he received his Master’s Degree in Government. He holds a BA degree from the University of South Dakota and is a coauthor of the political book, Foxes in the Henhouse.

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