How business skills help your political career
One common criticism of politicians, especially career politicians, is that they have no experience in the real world of work. However, it is certainly true that some of the skills that are required to lead a company can also be harnessed in politics.
Writing and research skills are important for political communication. A politician needs to be well informed on a range of issues and needs to be able to respond knowledgeably to questions. These sorts of skills are also important to business people who have to be able to present the message of what their company stands for and what it hopes to achieve.
Presentation skills are important in getting the message across, whether it is the policies of a political party or the vision of a company. Understanding your audience is also important. Steve Jobs was a prime example of someone who could inspire people with his vision, and this ability is equally important to politicians. In today’s world, understanding social media is a very important aspect of communication. Companies or politicians who are able to use social media to their advantage can greatly boost the performance of their company or party. In contrast, a gaffe can be very damaging.
The ability to manage crises and solve problems is another important skill for any business person or politician. Mistakes are made and problems arise even in the most well run companies and political parties, and knowing how to respond and what to say in these circumstances is an important skill.
Some entrepreneurs who have gone on to have successful political careers are Mike Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York; Mitt Romney the Governor of Massachusetts; and Najib Mikati, Prime Minister of Lebanon. Bloomberg is the founder of Bloomberg LP, a financial company with billions in annual revenue. Mitt Romney founded Bain Capital, which over the years has acquired or invested in many American household names such as Staples, Toys R Us and Domino’s Pizza. Najib Mikati was the Prime Minister of Lebanon until he resigned in March 2013. Before entering the political arena, he and his brother were telecom operators in Syria and Africa via their company Investcom. The company was sold to South Africa’s MTN Group in 2006 for a total of $3.6 billion in stock and cash (find out more about Najib Mikati at http://www.latimes.com/topic/politics-government/government/najib-mikati-PEPLT00008110-topic.html).
Leadership skills are important in both business and politics. Companies rely on the people they employ, so motivating them and making them feel engaged with the company and its aims is vital to the success of any company. Similarly for politicians, if they want to be successful, they need to inspire people and make them believe that their policies are the right ones for the country. Other important skills are teamwork and negotiation. In any business or political party, there will be times when there is a need to work effectively with others and to be able to compromise to get what they want. This requires the ability to know when to compromise and when to stick to the plan.
Of course, not all business leaders would make great politicians or would want to enter the political arena, but there are many skills that will serve them just as well in politics as they would in business.