By Michael Crosby, CEO, Leadership Connect, Inc.
Win or lose, here are 6 strategies you can start using now to capitalize on the results:
With the election nearly upon us, many contractors and agency staff will be anxiously awaiting the results to plan for the next four years—for many it’s a guessing game. However, a crystal ball does exist, and it can be used to create a plan that future-proofs your organization by enabling valuable relationships to be established.
How Much Change can you Expect?
First, let’s look at the history of “Year 5”—the “first year” after an incumbent is re-elected. The common theme for Clinton, Bush, and Obama is that Year 5 was the highest level of turnover for their respective presidencies, which makes sense. Appointees have already logged time in the Administration, made sacrifices and are ready to move on to those “cushy” private-sector jobs.
But wait, there’s more! The timeline of historical vacancies from the Election through to mid-year 2021 paints a striking picture.
Source: Center for Presidential Transition, November 2019
57%. What these charts show is that from Election Day + 9 months, turnover is likely to exceed 50% even with a Trump victory. Clearly, that will be much higher if there is a Biden win.
14%. That’s the current vacancy rate amongst senior positions within Federal agencies right now. Contrast that with the 4% at the municipal level, and you can see change is already here.
“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” — Writer and educator William Arthur Ward.
Here are 6 Strategies to Future-Proof Yourself:
1.Form multiple connections: If an appointee’s position is vacant or you expect it to be, look for the people who surround that leader. “Surrounding a relationship” is a common technique used in the financial world where multiple connections provide greater insight and the ability to handle change.
- Contractor Tip: look for peers in nearby offices, EAs, Schedule Cs and “functional” leaders. E.g. if you sell to IT but finance or HR owns the problem and budget – build relationships there.
- Agency Staffer Tip: build relationships with peers and direct reports.
2.Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon: It’s been said that any two people on Earth are six or fewer connections apart. The same is true for federal leaders and analyzing their networks. Look at where they previously worked, went to school and what boards or committees they are involved with.
3.Campaigns are hugely important: Decorum and where you work may hold you back from campaigning. However, many current and past campaign staff members will be critical in 2021.
E.g. Looking at the individuals involved in the Arizona Senate race will show their involvement in previous Presidential campaigns, think tanks, and Congressional campaigns. Building a relationship with a Senator, office, or committee may be your best path forward.
4.Leverage your connections now: Don’t always go to the top—key staff members move across agencies, the Hill, think-tanks, universities, and the private sector. Mid-level leaders can provide introductions, and, of no less value, valuable insight into their current and prior employers.
5.Know who to connect with: Having a diverse network is critical to your success, especially when you’re embarking on a large procurement, managing an existing contract, or building a consensus of decision-makers inside an office. These subject-matter experts are out there and are much easier to find than you might.
Leadership Connect is relied upon by over 1,000 offices in the Federal Government to help their leaders and staff connect with one another along with non-profits and the private sector. It is the largest public sector people intelligence service in the US.
6.Don’t forget the States: States with one party controlling the House, Senate, and Governorship can move much faster on policy and spend. Almost 25% of States are “in-play” so keep them in mind as sources of knowledge and influence, even at the federal level.
- Contractor Tip: state-level homeland security departments often mirror the Federal version. Build relationships at both levels.
- Agency Staffer Tip: look for your counterpart in key states. E.g. a DHS staffer may look for counter-part states like Texas, Ohio, or New York.
There’s no better time than the present to devise a strategy for connecting with decision-makers and influencers. Whether it’s for a procurement, networking, or advocacy, the time to act is now. If you employ just a few of these strategies, you’ll be ahead of the pack come November.
About Michael Crosby
Michael Crosby is CEO of the largest public sector relationship building platform in the US, Leadership Connect. His firm works with over 1,000 Government offices at the Federal, state, and local level to support program execution, inter-Governmental outreach, policy-making, and public sector contracting. Leadership Connect was founded by a White House staffer over 50-years ago and, today, uses big data and natural-language-processing to uncover people connections across policy and procurement. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .