Over the past year, the world has witnessed unprecedented changes in political leadership – and more changes are to come, with still-to-be-inaugurated President-elect Donald Trump about to take office this week in the US.
Who knows what awaits Americans, and the world, as the billionaire takes office and blusters his way through, at least, the next four years?
The myth that “everybody is a leader” should be busted once and for all in that some leaders may be good in one context (business) but terrible in another (politics). Another myth that needs to be busted is that democracy will result in the best leader/s getting elected because they are voted in by the majority. While democracy may be the best system for electing leaders at the moment, it’s certainly not a perfect system – because the majority is not necessarily right.
All emotionally intelligent Americans must be cringing in anticipation of a President whose understanding of reality is, shall I say, what he wants it to be. Here, then, are three “what not to do” leadership lessons we can learn from Donald Trump:
Watch what you say
Trump’s mouth has caused a great deal of trouble already. He has no qualms about attacking people verbally or on twitter when he wants to defend his apparently fragile ego or wants to score points. He has insulted women, boasted about groping them and sought to intimidate anyone wishing to hold him accountable for what he has said.
If you want to be a leader who is respected, put a guard on your mouth. As a leader, people are going to take what you say seriously. Recognise that and control your tongue accordingly. What you say as a leader DOES count, and you must be prepared to take responsibility for what you say instead of blaming that favourite scapegoat for dodgy politicians, “the media”. While the media is not entirely innocent, they would soon be caught out if they really were making things up.
Once something has been said, while you can make apologies and/or give explanations, it can never be “unsaid.” If you don’t want to be confronted with your own words, watch what you say.
Walk the talk
Trump may say and think that he is ethical and honest, but his actions suggest another story. He brags about being an outstanding businessman, yet has refused to make his tax returns available for public scrutiny. Why would someone in his position avoid making them available? Is it because, firstly, it could reveal that he’s not as good a businessman as he says he is or, secondly, that he has done questionable things suggesting he has something to hide in terms of business practice?
When you want to assess a person’s character, forget about what they say – talk is cheap. Watch what they DO. That’s the big revealer.
To lead with integrity and win people’s trust, you need to make sure your words and actions are aligned. People aren’t ethical because they say they are. People are ethical because they DO ethical things and DON’T DO unethical things. It’s as simple as that. Make sure you walk the talk.
Lead by example
Trump is a “do as I say, not as I do” kind of leader. He has one set of values for himself and another set for others. This leadership style has developed because he pays people to do what he tells them to do and, if you pay people well enough, they will jump when you say jump. He therefore believes he’s entitled to tell people what to do without having to do the same himself. This leadership style is outdated and an insult to people.
A leader of integrity will not expect anyone to do something he or she is not prepared to do. When you lead by example, you occupy the moral high ground. Few can argue with you when you ask them to do something you have either already done or are quite prepared to do yourself.
As you lead your people this year, lead them through relationship and example and you will build a powerful team which achieves great things!