For the 2014 gubernatorial election, almost every Mainer is hoping our next governor is effective in breaking the state from its perpetual malaise. While the most recognizable names — Gov. Paul LePage, U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, Independent Eliot Cutler and former Gov. John Baldacci — are mulling over their odds, perhaps it’s time Mainers take a different approach in selecting our next governor.
Research by psychologists Susan Fiske and Shelley Taylor indicate that an individual’s success is defined by one of three motivators of their personality: affiliation, power and achievement. Placed within a gubernatorial leadership role, a governor who seeks “affiliation” will want to get along with others (i.e. the Legislature) and will most likely compromise campaign promises and or political agenda to gain acceptance. Others with a “power” motivator seek to fulfill their own agendas or that of their special interest supporters.
The most effective governors are those motivated by achieving outcomes and who are goal-oriented in their performance. Using their leadership skills, they engage both the electorate and the state Legislature in a way that may raise all three to higher levels of motivation, accomplishment and integrity. They know that in order to achieve the greatest outcomes, they must work from the middle of differing values and political ideologies. They exhibit true, ethical leadership by approaching tasks for the greater good and whose outcomes serve the greatest number of constituents.
Political name recognition may garner votes, but it is the leader — willing to endure the hardship and sacrifice of the office — who steps up.
Democratic Party officials are hoping for a recognizable name to challenge the undeclared candidacy of LePage and the presumed one of Cutler. Baldacci has made it clear he will not run if Michaud decides to run. Therefore, all eyes in the Democratic Party are on Michaud.
Michaud is a good, decent, hard-working, dedicated public official, who has served Maine with absolute ethical integrity for the past six terms. He has risen from being a Maine state representative to congressman by way of affiliation, not by achievement. For all intents and purposes, Michaud only deals with what is brought before him, and right now that is almost exclusively veterans’ issues.
Historically, congresspersons do not make effective governors simply because the transition from being a legislative dealmaker (affiliation-motivated) to that of an executive leader (achievement-motivated) is more daunting than it appears. If Michaud were elected, Mainers would see, in effect, a third Baldacci term.
Meanwhile, the Republican Party is banking on LePage for a second term, even though more and more Mainers throughout the state are growing weary of his leadership in Augusta. LePage has a history of personal achievement. However, as we’ve seen in the past two years, collaboration is perhaps the governor’s least developed leadership skill. Given his personal background and professional success, LePage works best in a top-down corporate management structure. Essentially, what he says — or orders — gets done.
Using the power of the Internet, the runner-up in 2010’s gubernatorial election, Cutler, hopes to solve the state’s economic problems by extending Maine’s manufacturing reach into global markets, starting with China.
Notwithstanding the notables above, our state can no longer elect a governor whose actions and objectives fail to consider the next generations of Mainers.
On a recent radio program, Charles Colgan, the state’s foremost economist, said Maine’s number one export is its 18–34 year olds. Our next governor cannot overlook or ignore this important demographic. Moreover, a state that continually fails to present a climate of opportunity for its younger citizens suffers from the loss of their enthusiasm, talent and inspiration.
Lastly, if the purpose of next year’s election is to choose “this” person instead of “that” person from the names above, then it’s very possible the “Maine Malaise” will continue. Let us seek and support a candidate with a record of achievement and collaboration who steps up and asks, “What outcomes and opportunities would you like to see in Maine’s future?”
Mike Turcotte of Bangor is an adjunct ethics professor at Eastern Maine Community College with a master’s degree in leadership and ethics and a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership. His master’s capstone is titled: “An Ideal Governor: A Voter’s Guide for Selecting their Next Governor.”