The good, the bad and the ugly: Key lessons from Trump’s leadership

Although Trump divides public opinion and is either loathed or respected, he undeniably has what psychologists call “charisma”. Like any other leadership strength, it is only powerful in helping a leader and their organisation succeed if it is used in the right way and to achieve shared goals. When used with caution, charisma can be very powerfull; it helps the leader attract people to follow them and enables them to build strong relationships and influence employees and key stakeholders alike.

However, this is also a big watch out area for Trump as we have seen the ‘dark side’ of his charisma, which is clearly being used to advance personal interests as well as autocratic power. When it is used in these ways, it can undermine trust with followers and society at large, as followers start to see the leader is more interested in themselves than the success of the business. When this happens the leader loses support and influence, which are essential for effective leadership in any context.

Dealmaker and digital shaper

We all know Trump’s success has been largely on account of his extraordinary persuasion and deal-making abilities, which have been abundantly illustrated in the US version of The Apprentice and in building his business empire. In fact, he is rather proud of these strengths and his 1987 book was entitled Trump: The Art of the Deal.

Although Trump is clearly a ‘digital immigrant’ and was born well before the advent of digital technologies, he has embraced new technology and uses it to influence and shape events and decisions in ways that have surprised and amazed even his biggest critics another of the key lessons bosses should take on board.

His use of #Trumprulestwitter to persuade US car makers to invest in the US, rather than offshoring manufacturing to Mexico, has shown the remarkable power of this approach. This technique will doubtless be significantly curbed when he becomes President on account of both security and institutional decision constraints. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t continue to do deals and shape world events from his mobile in ways unimaginable to other world leaders.

Time will tell how these strengths and risks will play out domestically and on the international stage when he assumes the world’s most influential leadership role. The next four years will determine whether Trump can find a more prudent path between his fiery rhetoric and more considered policy to “Make America Great Again”. One thing is for certain, in making the transition from great entertainer and businessman, to politician and nation-builder, he will need to learn to serve others, be open-minded, inclusive, patient and considered. These are not qualities we have seen from Trump to date so the world waits with trepidation to see whether he has them up his sleeve.

James Brook is joint founder and MD at Strengths Partnership

Image: Shutterstock

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