Political Personality: A Woman's Guide on How to Win a Campaign

This self-test will help decide if you have the political personality it takes to run for office and win your campaign.

  • As the number of women in politics is ever-increasing, possessing a political personality is necessary to succeed on Election Day.
    Photo by Fotolia/Kelpfish
  • "Every Day Is Election Day," by Rebecca Sive, is a practical guide for women who want to run for office and win.
    Cover courtesy Chicago Review Press

Women make up 18% of Congress, 24% of state legislators and less than 1% of state governors. While these numbers are small, women’s influence in politics will only continue to increase. Every Day Is Election Day (Chicago Review Press, 2013) is about changing the role women play in public policy. Author Rebecca Sive offers straightforward advice from women who have run and won! It's a practical guide to help overcome public barriers, personal fears, and run a campaign with humor, confidence, and no apologies. The following excerpt from Chapter 3 offers a self-test to determine if you have the political personality it takes.

Certain personality traits are required to achieve success on Election Day. Other qualities can be a bonus. These traits will assist you as you navigate the processes that are inevitable in any campaign. Ideally you’ll enjoy those processes. Alternatively, you’ll have the intellectual and intestinal fortitude to put up with them.

This self-test will help you to gauge how prepared you’ll be for your campaign and how much you’ll have to learn to stomach. It will also help you understand which of your stronger qualities will compensate for your weaker ones. For instance, if you’re someone who quickly assimilates information and effortlessly processes and makes important decisions but possesses only workmanlike speaking skills, you can make that combination work. Your supporters and your constituents, not to mention sister decision makers, will appreciate your ability and confidence in making tough calls. If you’re a compelling fund-raiser in one-on-one meetings with people you know, but you dislike making begging phone calls to strangers, you’ll probably be OK, as long as you’re willing to make some of those calls to strangers.

Consider former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, two highly successful public leaders. Both are smart and hardworking. But he’s empathetic while she’s determined. He gives long and thoughtful policy speeches that prove his intellectual heft. She downs a beer while dancing in a bar to show she’s got a soft side. You too will build and balance your talents and skills as you learn what they are.

Are you a happy person? Though Abraham Lincoln, one of our greatest presidents, was a depressive, I think he’s the exception that proves the rule when it comes to public leadership. Most of our leaders exude optimism. They know they need to remain positive, especially in tough times, when people need them the most.

Are you empathetic? The question here isn’t whether you like to hug strangers and kiss babies. It is whether you can make a personal connection to other people and care about their experiences. Can you demonstrate empathy in ways that a stranger can feel? For instance, are you willing to be a regular volunteer at your city’s homeless shelter or food pantry?

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