Crossing the Finish Line: How Transparency is Key in Getting Things Done — In Conversation with Alex Hughes

Talking Trends
3 min readJun 12, 2024


Photo by Anton Shuvalov on Unsplash

“When there are speed bumps or forks in the road for a particular project or issue, people have a tendency to want to back off. Once you’ve figured out the path forward to your goal, however, you just have to keep going — even if it requires you to take a more circuitous route. I think it’s important to have confidence in your ability to see the field and figure out how to get people bought into the ultimate goal.”

We’re in conversation with Alex Hughes, a highly pragmatic, inclusive, and dynamic motivator with over 20 years of experience in government communications and regulation. A calculated strategist with expertise in aligning various stakeholders, Alex has more courage than average to get things done.

Many projects face hurdles and challenges that can derail progress or lead to incomplete outcomes. However, you have consistently demonstrated the ability to reach the finish line, whether it’s successfully completing projects or delivering what clients want. Could you share some insights into your approach and strategies for consistently achieving these objectives?

“Many people in the consulting world have a tendency to not be direct with people and avoid clearly articulating the risks and rewards of a particular strategy. People don’t always want to hear the truth, but they appreciate and respect it in the end. To me, there isn’t a different way to do it than to be direct and forthright in my recommendations to clients, informed by empirical experience. It’s important to be expansive in your understanding that people bring different viewpoints and ways of thinking to the conversation.

“When people set goals and start projects, things always tend to get derailed at some point — the goals change, the strategy pivots, or multiple interests struggle to align. In order to streamline teams and make sure that the first goal that was set is reached, it’s vital to have clear communication. It’s important to be transparent with the team and understand them in order to find what motivates them to achieve that goal.

“Take, for example, the legislative process. You need dozens of votes to pass legislation. That’s many different personalities and voices — oftentimes, as long as people feel like they’ve been heard, even if they don’t get 100% of what they want, they’re more likely to support the ultimate goal.

“When I was the Chief of Staff to Speaker Mike Bush, he died suddenly in office and a new speaker was selected as a consensus between the two parties. The first Black Speaker of the Maryland House, Speaker Jones hadn’t previously considered this role, so we were tasked with onboarding somebody who hadn’t given a huge amount of thought to this leadership responsibility. Part of this onboarding was positioning her to appeal to a greater portion of the caucus she served and the people of Maryland.

“We started a three-month listening process to understand the needs of people in the state of Maryland, particularly Black constituents. One concern that was particularly important was how to better create incentives for the state to use its buying power to help build wealth in an equitable way. So, we came up with a legislative agenda that included requiring companies that did business with the state for over a million dollars to demonstrate diversity on their board, their c-suite, or their mission.

“While there was a lot of pushback, we were able to get it passed because we made an effort to build relationships with people and understand their motivations. It really required a different way of thinking to invest the legislators in Speaker Jones — while she’d been in the house for a long time, she wasn’t a particularly loud personality. We had to figure out what would make each legislative group feel invested in her and her success. To this day, she’s still doing great and has a broad base of support.”

Thanks for sharing, Alex.



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