Lobbying and lobbyists have for some time been regarded with suspicion and even outright mistrust by journalists and the wider public. While to some extent, popular (mis)perceptions about lobbyists are understandable, they are also regrettable: lobbyists operate in every political system, and generally do so in an entirely proper fashion. This paper seeks to consider the personal characteristics which effective and successful lobbyists require.
The paper is based on 60 interviews with lobbyists in Washington, London and Brussels; the approach used here is simply to allow lobbyists themselves to discuss at some length their views about the issues they feel are important in a practical sense.
The paper examines a range of personal qualities including skills such as listening, observation, and relationship‐building, as well as issues surrounding gender/sexuality, courtesy, honesty, integrity and credibility.
While it is unrealistic to claim that 60 interviews constitute a fully representative sample of the entire lobbying industry worldwide, it is true that they offer a first‐cut overview of key factors. This area does not yet feature prominently in academic research, but will increasingly.
This paper is a contribution to the discussion which the lobbying industry must engage in more explicitly as to the qualities required by lobbyists. In order to produce a reasonably definitive “person specification” for a lobbying position, the next step would be to involve those responsible for recruiting people to such posts, to establish which elements of the personal mix discussed (alongside other professional competencies) are of priority across a range of organisations and levels of seniority.
The paper helps to set an agenda for both academic and professional debate.
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