What business leaders can learn from Donald Trump
6 min read
24 November 2016
After the now US president's surprise victory, James Reed, co-founder of Reed Recruitment, asks what business leaders can learn from Donald Trump.
Whether you like him or loathe him, there’s no avoiding the reality – he will be the next President of the United States. He got the job – and there are a few things you can learn from Donald Trump and his unexpected victory.
When it comes down to it, the presidential election is essentially a very high profile job application. In that sense, business leaders, who more often than not apply for their position, can glean important lessons from people like Donald Trump who beat the odds and defeat powerful competitors in the race for the top spot.
He demonstrated personal energy and drive. Low energy is a definite no-no. In the run up to the election, Donald Trump repeatedly accused his rival Hillary Clinton of lacking the energy to do the job in question. Obviously a lot of Americans heard this message, and it’s harshness and directness hit home.
He, on the other hand, displayed seemingly unlimited stamina during his campaign. Between numerous speeches and a seemingly unending stream of Tweets – and at one stage attending four rallies in two different time zones in a single day – Donald Trump proved he had the energy and drive needed for the job. (Of course it helps if you have your own plane.)
What else is there to learn from Donald Trump? His use of memorable language. The use of language throughout an interview process has a huge impact on the success of candidates. There’s a fine line between demonstrating to the employer you are willing, able and determined to do a good job and overpromising – it’s the same case when it comes to pitching for finance and pleasing investors.
Throughout the campaign process, Donald Trump continually used phrases like “I will do this” and “we will make America great again.” His emphasis on the change that he would enact, meant that those who voted for him did so because of the determination in his language. In contrast, Hillary Clinton was not quite as free in her promises or language, perhaps due to an unwillingness to overpromise and underdeliver. A key thing to learn from Donald Trump is thus that language can help you succeed in any role, but only time will tell if he can deliver on his decisive promises!
Also, he offered something different. Recruiters, investors, the board, you name it, all of them look for a candidate to demonstrate their unique selling point. This is essentially what you believe sets you apart and makes you the best candidate for the role.
Donald Trump did this by offering dramatic change and continually reinforcing his position as an outsider in politics. This became his USP, and although underqualified in diplomacy and the day-to-day running of the White House, it contributed to him getting the job.
And he appeared to really want the job. Throughout the campaign trails, Donald Trump was incredibly vocal about his desire for the role of US President, even publicly acknowledging that he would refuse to take “no” for an answer. Although I would always urge people not to be too overzealous, it’s clear that drive and determination are winning factors for success.
There’s also more to learn from Donald Trump in terms of how he stood out from the crowd. When asked if they would choose someone with the right mindset who lacks all the skills desired for the position or someone who has all the skills but not the ideal mindset, an astonishing 97 per cent of Britss tell me they would pick mindset ahead of skillset. And voters did the same.
During the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton regularly listed her array of credible and wide-ranging political accomplishments but this wasn’t enough to sway the popular vote. Instead, Trump, lacking in political and leadership skills managed to succeed, due to his mindset, in particular his Grit.
Fortunately for the President Elect, the job of US President doesn’t come with a nine month probation period. If it did, his employer would be able to assess whether all those things that he promised at interview really do match up to his early delivery and if not, to cry foul and pitch him out. It’s certainly going to be interesting to see how the next four years pan out for Donald Trump. Will he be ‘fired’ in four years’ time? My bet is that he won’t be. What’s yours?
James Reed is co-founder of Reed Recruitment.