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Winning The Day

Follow Leaders Who Listen

December 7, 2012

Q. My client is considering a run to unseat an incumbent. She has a strong track record in business but no political experience. What is your counsel on how to best shape her message?

A. Here is how we suggest that you counsel your client.

First, understand the audience — your constituents — and their needs.

Second, develop no more than three key messages that stress the benefits of your experience to constituents. Leverage your strengths.

Third, use data and stories that will resonate and stick with constituents to illustrate your key messages.

It is a well-known secret that Mike Duggan has his eyes set on being Detroit’s next mayor. Duggan moved his family from Livonia to Detroit earlier this year and started putting his ear to the ground, literally, to learn what Detroit residents want their city to be. He is meeting in living rooms, neighborhood by neighborhood, listening to residents to understand their needs. He is becoming a familiar face to Detroiters.

Duggan announced that he is resigning as CEO of the DMC effective December 31. In a widely reported letter to DMC employees, Duggan thanked everyone for being so supportive of him over nine years during plenty of battles. His letter told a big story: he listed several accomplishments during his tenure including $850 million in new investment. He ended his letter saying, “we rebuilt DMC together and it’s been the greatest experience of my life. Now, I’m going to try something a little harder.”

Duggan has not formerly announced his candidacy. For now, he is out there doing more listening than talking. We suspect his key message is simply, “I am here to listen.”

Who wouldn’t choose to follow a leader like this?

Paula Blanchard Stone and Patty McCarthy are partners in McCarthy  Blanchard, an executive training firm specializing , an executive training firm specializing in presentation skills and executive presence. Visit or call (517) 339-7447 or (313) 882-9200. | Website

December 6, 2012 · Filed under Winning The Day Tags: , , ,

14 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Bry // Dec 7, 2012 at 8:32 am

    Good advice. One nit to pick. You misuse the word “literally” when referring to him putting his ear to the ground. It is a peeve of mine and I know as communication professionals you will appreciate the constructive input. Now if I can get my kids to stop misusing “random”.

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