Election 2012 offers important lessons for anyone in a leadership position

Published: Thursday, Nov. 8 2012 10:51 a.m. MST

Surrounded by their children children, Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, foreground, stands with his wife, Ann, and Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., second from right, stands with his wife, Janna, after Romney's concession speech at his Election Night rally early Wednesday in Boston.

Charles Dharapak, Associated Press

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The presidential election of 2012 set records for dollars spent and raised a new bar for the deployment of technology in targeting individual voters. It was also a hard-fought race on both sides. President Barack Obama was, at times, leaning on the podium during his acceptance speech, presumably from exhaustion. Gov. Mitt Romney alluded to the incredible breakneck pace of the year in his concession, “Like so many of you, Paul [Ryan] and I have left everything on the field. We have given our all...”

It is no accident that Romney used a sports metaphor in his remarks. The days that follow a presidential election bear a striking resemblance to the days that follow Super Bowl Sunday. After all the din, statistics, predictions and anticipation, the victors and the vanquished return home to make sense of what transpired and decide what happens next.

As spectators, most of us spend the days that follow a national spectacle tuning in for the punditry. To do so, however, is to miss out on what many educators would call a “teachable moment.” Presidential campaigns and football seasons are compressed organizational life cycles that play out for all of us to see. A goal or mission is set, a team is built, players get swapped in and out, mistakes get made and an unforgiving clock ticks down to a conclusion.

For those of us in positions of leadership, there are lessons to be learned from these events:

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