What politicians can learn from actors
Q: Winning an election often involves taking a strong ideological position to energize a partisan base. Actually governing, however, usually requires compromise. Will today's Republican leaders be able or willing to pivot successfully from campaigning to governing? Are there lessons from other fields on how to do it?
My husband was a professional actor. He often remarked that actors needed two different sets of skills: one for getting the job, and one for doing the job. Getting the job required the ability to make a positive first impression, to be friendly and likable when dealing with casting directors, directors and producers, and to be a "quick study"--memorizing almost instantly. Doing the job required real acting abilities--getting into the heart of the character and making the performance believable. He also noticed that some very good actors were terrible at auditions, and some people who aced the try-out couldn't really act. Of course, the most successful actors had learned that these skills sets were separate entities, and never confused their ability to get the role with their ability to convincingly portray the role.
I think this duality is true in most professions (doing well at the interview is not the same as doing well on the job), but no where is it more obvious than in politics. The skills needed to get elected have very little in common with the skills needed to govern. It's just that, unlike those successful actors, many politicians don't realize there is a difference.
Carol Kinsey Goman
October 25, 2010; 12:42 PM ET
Category: Accomplishing Goals , Government leadership , Political leadership , Pop culture Save & Share:
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