Trump’s First 100 Days Provide Valuable Leadership Lessons ​

Perspectives about leadership from outside of an organization don’t usually reflect the internal realities.  Therefore, individuals should be careful about being overly critical about someone’s leadership style(s), action(s), or decision(s) without direct experience with that person’s role, responsibilities, and their accountability.

Leaders accept ownership of their challenges and proudly acknowledge their team’s accomplishments — without redirecting or attributing the successes to themselves.

Leadership is about:
* developing a vision;
* building a team;
* conveying passion to encourage and drive action;
* positively supporting a team;
* clearly defining responsibilities;
* ensuring accountability;
* celebrating successes.

A leader must have or quickly develop thick-skin.  Moreover, a leader cannot and shouldn’t be affected by every comment that isn’t liked.  Anyone who accepts responsibility for a country (or an organization) must know that there will be naysayers; it’s part and parcel of holding a leadership position.

During Trump’s first 100 days, he attempted to downplay the importance of this historical milestone — probably because he didn’t receive the successes or acclaim that he expected to achieve.  Moreover, in recent days, he’s tried to reduce this milestone’s significance by stating that it’s an arbitrary success measurement.  It’s interesting that he feels this way, because many workers are evaluated by a similar milestone — but it’s only 90 days.  If this timeline isn’t a relevant indicator of future success or cultural fit, then… why is it used?  One reason is that arguably it provides valuable insight about an individual’s skills, abilities, and leadership capabilities to achieve measurable objectives.

The assumption of any leadership position can be challenging, but imagine the enormity of being a citizen one day and the next being responsible/accountable for an entire country without any political experience.  How might you feel; would you act before you understood the environment; would you leverage the experiences of those with greater experience/knowledge; do you act without any regard to the potential impacts of your actions, comments, or behaviors?

Leadership has many burdensome considerations that require more than automatic responses, personal reflections about themselves, a cursory environmental understanding, and self-proclaimed importance.  It requires thoughtful actions to make appropriate decision(s), understand impacts/implications, and be ready to react to unintended consequences.

During Trump’s first 100 days, he had a series of serious missteps, proclaimed successes, unexpected losses, and admitted declarations that the presidency is harder than he expected.

A few lessons taken from Trump’s first 100 days:

* Be Trustworthy – Your word and words matters!  If there are concerns about a leader’s integrity, then there will be doubts and suspicions about anything communicated.

* It’s Not About You – The position is significantly more important than the person holding it.  The ultimate responsibility is to the individuals served and not self-serving actions or behaviors.

* Respect Those with Experience – Don’t discount or be afraid to leverage the work of those who are smarter than you.  Check your ego to not perceive experts as a threat, but instead leverage their expertise and experiences to make the collective organization better.  Ultimately, it’s about the people, organization, impacts, and its work to deliver excellence.  Therefore, leaders must remove any ego-driven concerns about being outshined by their employees.

* Be Consistent – An inconsistent leader doesn’t drive or create commitment.  Those under a leader’s purview mustn’t have any concerns about or expectations that the message, direction, or purpose will unexpectedly change from one moment to the next.

* Understand the Environment – If a leader doesn’t understand the environment, then it’s their responsibility to become familiar with it.  This means that leaders must surround themselves with those who have internal experience, history, and networking opportunities — even while a leader builds their own leadership team.

* Encourage Dissenting Viewpoints – Everyone doesn’t need to and shouldn’t agree with you!  Create an open environment for individuals to say “no,” express doubts, or respectively challenge a direction.  Elevating concerns about individuals being attacked, demoted, or isolated for expressing dissenting viewpoints can lead to better, more informed, and less negative impacting decisions/environments.

* Don’t Attack Those Who Disagree – Those who disagree isn’t the challenge; the issue is a leader’s inability to listen to anyone who has different views.  Attacking, demeaning, devaluing, or insulting those who don’t agree with a leader isn’t a projection of leadership, but oftentimes it’s a demonstration of insecurities and shallowness.

* Diversity Matters – Encourage and celebrate the richness of ideas, cultural diversity, racial differences, sexual identity, and more.  The collective power of diverse viewpoints leads to better, more informed, and positively purposeful decisions.

* Drive Connections – Leadership is ultimately about connecting individuals to drive superior performance.  Therefore, create opportunities for individuals to collaborate on initiatives that make things better for the collective and not just certain portions of the establishment.

Trump’s success during his term won’t be decided within the first 100 days; however, the tone and approach during this period will have a long-term impact on his potential to lead and drive future initiatives.

Leadership is about the achievement of goals and objectives.  The focus should be on the maximization of organizational benefits while at the same time minimizing the negative impacts to its members and constituents.  Notwithstanding, this doesn’t mean that everyone’s needs will be met.  Moreover, there must also be honest, accurate, and consistent communication about the reasons for and impact of decisions.  Individuals don’t need to and won’t always agree with a decision, but there’s still a necessity to ensure the rationales for decisions are clearly articulated.

​The first 100 days of Trump was an interesting exercise in understanding the complexities of organizational politics, the importance of change management, and power of an existing base to impact or prevent the implementation of initiatives.  Hopefully, for the rest of his term, Trump will learn that organizational change requires partnerships, networking, and a willingness to listen to others’ positions (even if he doesn’t agree) to drive bipartisan solutions that are meaningful for the many and not just a select few.

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