We are just a little over one month with Donald Trump as the President of the United States of America. And regardless of how you voted, it is done. He IS our President and the leader of our nation.
There are a lot of things we can say about Donald Trump, both good and bad. But the one trait that everyone tends to bestow upon him is that he is a leader. We often synonymize leadership with being powerful and rich. But just because someone has influence or money, or has a successful business, doesn’t translate to them being a leader.
I started thinking about Donald Trump as a leader, and after studying him and his actions over the past few years on his quest to become the leader of the free world, there were several red flags that jumped out at me, and I want to share them with you.
If you want to be a great leader, there are things that you simply CANNOT do. When I think of great leaders, I often think of this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, who said, “Small minds discuss people. Average minds discuss events. Great minds discuss ideas.” With Donald Trump, we have seen a lot of discussions about people, lots of discussions around events, but very few discussions on ideas.
Here are six things that Donald Trump does, that you SHOULD NOT do if you want to be a leader:
YOU SHOULD NOT…
1. Use ‘I’ more than ‘We’. We are taught at an early age, that there is no ‘i’ in ‘team’. Granted someone has to lead the team, but the leader doesn’t do it all by themselves. And leaders shouldn’t want to do it all by themselves either. If you listen to Donald Trump when he speaks, he is constantly saying “I can do this” and “only I can fix this” and “I know this” – I, I, I. But in actuality he can’t do anything by himself, because he’s not equipped to do it all or know it all. And no leader is…which is why the best leaders rely on a team-based approach to solve problems. If something happens to one person, it happens to everyone, and only WE can fix it.
2. Surround yourself with unqualified people. The best leaders in the world, surround themselves with people who are smarter than them in key areas, and they rely on those people to help make sound judgements and decisions. When you look at the assembly of the Trump administration, you see several people who have no relevant experience for the roles they will be assuming. Now that is not to say they can’t figure it out, but none of us in the real world get jobs without having relevant experience in the areas we want to work. Just because someone is successful in one field, doesn’t mean it will translate to other fields. When you appoint a neurosurgeon to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and all of his experience is in the medical field, something is wrong. And this is not the only unqualified appointee in the Trump administration. If you want to be successful as a leader, surround yourself with the brightest people who can apply their areas of expertise to you and the common goal you are trying to achieve. And then put those people in position to be successful, because your success hinges on their success.
3. Live in the past. For the first weeks into his presidency, we are still seeing Donald Trump talk about his campaign, his opponents, his inauguration crowd sizes and how the polls incorrectly predicted the outcome of the election. But when you are constantly living in the past, you miss what’s in front of you. Great leaders are visionaries, meaning they are always thinking years ahead as it pertains to their respective industries. That’s not to say that they do not take into account what has happened in the past. Matter of fact, what happens in the past is normally what fuels their vision for the future. But the past is used as a lesson to learn from, not as the opportunity to point out how right you were or how wrong someone else was. You can’t be a leader, by looking behind you, otherwise, you’ll trip over what you can’t see in front of you.
4. Talk down to others. One of the common themes that we have seen with Donald Trump is that he knows more than anyone else in the room. When you tell people you are the smartest in the room, it is also telling them that they are dumber than you. We also see this theme that if you disagree with him, he will do his best to make sure he fights you with his words over your own opinion. If someone says something unflattering about him, rather than let that roll off his back, he tends to attack. As a leader, you have to understand that not everyone is going to agree with your decisions. But what great leaders do is share the reasons behind their decisions with facts and rationale. Sometimes you have to agree to disagree and move on. But at no time should a leader insult or put down the people they are attempting to lead.
5. Ignore, silence and divide people. By ignoring the protests around the country surrounding his first weeks in the Oval Office, by trying to silence the media and paint them as an enemy of the people, and by singling out certain classes of people, Donald Trump is on his way to becoming a dictator. Most recently, we have seen the White House deny access to certain media outlets, because they disagree with the coverage the administration has received from these outlets. So as to better control the message, they opted to ignore and silence the media. Rather than silence people, great leaders give people a voice. You can’t lead people if you don’t listen to them.
6. Paint a negative a picture. No one likes a “Negative Nancy”. Whenever Donald Trump talks about this country, he paints the worst picture possible, and constantly says that he has inherited a mess. There will always be disagreements with previous administrations on how they have handled policies, but facts are facts and numbers are numbers. While it has been proven that the Obama administration inherited a far worse situation than the Trump administration, there is always room for improvement. In order to improve a situation, you do need to address what’s wrong, but then you need to lay out a plan to fix it. Once that plan is laid out, stop going backwards and start looking forwards. Leaders are optimists at heart. They can see things for what they are, but they also have the ability to see things for what they can be. Positivity breeds buy-in, buy-in breeds teamwork and teamwork leads to accomplishments.