Clout Calculations: When’s a Good Time to Leave Leadership?

ROLL CALL
May 14, 2015


And sometimes a staffer’s clout can increase with a move. “Whenever a high-level leadership staffer departs, there is definitely a drop-off in the attention level because that person has left a big center of power and influence,” said Ron Bonjean, communications director to then-Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and now a partner at Rokk Solutions. “However, the respect level usually remains for those that are known to have done a great job and treated people with respect while they served.”

But the true test of changing clout may come after the boss actually departs, rather than stepping aside or waiting in the wings. Just ask Rodell Mollineau, former staffer to then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and a partner along with Bonjean at Rokk Solutions. Reid has announced his plans to retire at the end of 2016. “I’ll let you know in 18 months,” he said.

Mollineau left Capitol Hill in 2011 but believes that understanding the way Congress works will be valuable in any position. “Those relationships you have are important, especially those relationships in leadership,” he said. “But the ability to be a good strategist and know how power works goes a long way toward keeping career longevity.”

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