Nancy Pelosi is a polarizing figure and if you can get past that, you could learn a great deal from the woman on how to get things done. I just finished reading Molly Ball’s fascinating biography Pelosi in which she describes the Speaker as “operational” and then gives countless examples to bolster her point.

Operational in Pelosi’s case means that she was “committed to getting things done above all, and had the ingenuity to figure out a way to do it. Everything was about results.”

When AIDS was still too taboo of a topic to address, she garnered support for research funding by bringing the NAMES Quilt to the National Mall – and lined up activists to lift it every twenty minutes to overcome the Park Service’s attempt to deter her by saying the Quilt would have to be raised that often to avoid harm to the grass. When she hit a wall and could not get the votes for the Affordable Care Act without a stricter ban on abortion, she swallowed her pride and appealed to the most liberal women to back down on their insistence on the clause, sharing her vote tally sheets to show there seemed to be no other way. When the DREAM Act was in jeopardy, she collected stories of Dreamers and read them to the House – for 8 full hours without interruption – in order to put a human face on the bill. She ensured a bill on the war in Iraq would pass by splitting it into two, allowing one faction to vote for domestic spending but not the war funding and another faction to vote for the reverse.

When Pelosi was asked how she was going to round up the votes required to pass the Affordable Care Act, she replied: “You go through the gate. If the gate’s closed, you go over the fence. If the fence is too high, we’ll pole-vault in. If that doesn’t work, we’ll parachute in.”

Whether or not you agree with her politics, Pelosi is a master at getting the job done. The book can inspire you to think more broadly about how to find solutions to the problems you face and to become more “operational” in your work. Don’t stop when the gate is closed.

Source: Pelosi by Molly Ball, 2020

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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