This is an Election Year and a Census year

You Have to Participate to Lead: Vote!

I was speaking with a colleague the other day about the importance of voting in a democratic society. He mentioned that his eldest had chosen not to vote in the last federal election. As a result, he and his wife told her that she was not allowed to complain about the current administration around them – and if she didn’t vote in the upcoming mid-terms, she wasn’t allowed to complain about that either. Needless to say, she has registered and has already taken part in early voting.

Exercise your right to vote

What does this have to do with leadership, you’re wondering. Plenty! In order to lead in your organization or your community, you have to participate throughout the process. That means looking at future direction, considering your ideas and where you think the organization/team should go, discussing possibilities with others, and eventually making up your mind before taking action.

People can be overheard saying, “Well, my vote doesn’t count. Why should I bother?”

All politics is local. Get involved with your own community. Participate in your local HOA. Be a part of the school board or the county board of supervisors. Support a candidate. And if you don’t want to show which party you support, participate in a local Get Out the Vote campaign.

Before you decide upon the candidate you’re going to support, turn down the news and negative campaign ads and consider the following:

  • What are the issues that are important to you?
  • What are the views from the candidates who are running?
    • Make an appointment to speak with them and learn about their platforms.
    • Attend an all-candidates forum if one exists.
    • Read their website and the information that is listed.
  • What do others around me think?
    • Engage in civil discourse with your friends and others. Ask them what is important to them.
    • “Help me understand what platforms are important to you. What is it that candidate X says that really connects with you? What do you want to see them do?”
    • “In what kind of a community do you want to live?”
    • “How do you want people to treat one another? Engage with one other? How do we work together to create that type of community?”
    • How does this fit for me?
  • Weigh all of the information you’ve gathered, balance this against your own values, views, and goals… and make an educated decision.

I heard someone saying today that if people can stand in a line to buy a Power Ball ticket, surely, they can stand in line to vote and engage in the democratic process.

As my mother always says, “You give up complaining rights if you don’t vote!” Make sure you exercise your right to vote, every time you have the opportunity – people have died for you to have that. And many around the world are still dying to be able to have that right in their own country. Never take it for granted.

This article first appeared in Prince William Living Magazine.

Melissa Davies is an executive leadership coach and facilitator as well as the author of How Not to Act Like a BLEEP at Work. She resides in Prince William County and runs Wise Ways Consulting, which specializes in leadership, management and team development, executive coaching, group facilitation and high-engagement training. She can be reached at info@wisewaysconsulting.com or through wisewaysconsulting.com