Pulling a “Heath Shuler:” The Right Way to Get Someone Else’s Job

The Nation sums up Congressman Heath Shuler like this:

A chiseled ex-football star and devout Southern Baptist from the Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina (WNC), Shuler was the prize recruit of Rahm Emanuel’s class of ’06. Despite his conservative stances on guns, abortion, immigration and gay rights, Democratic activists in WNC rallied behind Shuler, who ran as an economic populist and promised to fight for new jobs and better healthcare for his mountain constituents.

“The Democratic Party helps those who cannot help themselves. That’s the Christian that I am,” he was reported as saying.  Shuler then proceeded to become one of the most outspoken dissidents inside the Democratic Congress, voting against the stimulus, healthcare bill and Consumer Financial Protection Agency.  And he is now  gunning for Nancy Pelosi’s job as House Minority Leader.  “If she doesn’t step aside, I will challenge her,” he announced to CNN yesterday.

There are a few problems with Shuler’s strategy, and these are the same issues you should consider if you’ve decided you want someone else’s job in your company.

He is jumping the gun before natural events could take their course.

Pelosi still has significant pull within the Democratic party, including the friendship of President Obama, and she hadn’t yet announced her intention to run for party leader again.  Shuler stepped in before Pelosi even made a move that people could disapprove of.   Your best bet in securing another person’s job is to sit tight and wait for that person to be ousted by their own making rather than taking action that makes you look like the bad guy.

He is being openly antagonistic and divisive.

Everyone recognizes that the Democratic party needs unity now more than anything, so Shuler’s bid looks like a ploy for attention and press rather than an honest and earnest desire to do what’s best for the organization.  No one likes a self-centered bully.  If you want your contributions to be recognized and rewarded, you must play nice in the sandbox.

He does not have the support of his colleagues.

Even Shuler readily admits that he doesn’t have the votes to win this challenge.  By proving it, he will undermine his own effectiveness as a representative and make some bitter enemies in the process.  If you truly feel you are the best person for a particular job, then you must not be the only person who thinks so.  Gather substantial support before announcing your intentions.

Alexandra Levit

Alexandra Levit’s goal is to help people find meaningful jobs - quickly and simply - and to succeed beyond measure once they get there. Follow her @alevit.

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  • Mbrady

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