Leadership is about the ability to influence the hearts and minds of others to take action. Regardless of your love or hate for President Trump, his unorthodox win and first 10 days in office offer lessons for every leader.
- Clarity and consistency of message creates connection. Candidate Trump occasionally “clarified”, but he rarely wavered in his message. You knew the positions for which he stood, and he knew the issues that were important to his followers. His clarity and consistency created a degree of loyalty that made his statement that he wouldn’t lose votes even if he shot someone believable. Digital marketing experts suggest that the average person is bombarded with over 5,000 brand message exposures per day. That is in addition to the hundreds of emails, text messages, and social media posts consumed. Clarity and consistency are crucial to cut through the clutter and make an impact.
- Language matters. The words you choose create lasting perceptions. The vast majority would agree with “keeping America safe.” Saying that you want to “build a wall” creates rabid fans and rabid enemies. There are times when emotionally charged language is needed, and there are times when a more nuanced approach will lead to the desired outcome. The leadership lesson is that you must be intentional to ensure that the words you use elicit the response you want.
- Followers respond to a cause that is bigger than you and all about them. President Trump used the words “you” or “your” 25 times in his inaugural address. He talked about transferring power back to the electorate not just between administrations. Trump, as candidate and President, consistently reached out to voters and citizens who believe that they have been left behind and engaged them in a cause bigger than his own election – their positive future.
- Disruption is difficult when you are on the inside. President Trump may or may not be able to completely “Drain the Swamp.” No one can argue, however, that he hasn’t disrupted the status quo of how Washington, DC operates. Voters in the 2016 Presidential election were convinced that the Federal government was part of the problem rather than part of the solution. The election of Donald Trump and the better-than-expected showing of Bernie Sanders indicate the preference for an outsider to change things. It’s not that you can’t transform your organization from the inside out. Netflix, for example, has done it. The list of successes, however, is short.
- Staying on point and on message is crucial. What do you remember most about President Trump’s first 24 hours in office? Was it the Executive Order to minimize the economic burden of the Affordable Care Act or the fight over the audience size at the inauguration? Leaders are always on. You never have the luxury of having an off moment or an off day. Every departure from your mission, vision, and strategic goals creates a distraction that must be overcome. The numbers of people watching can be relatively small if you lead a single team or virtually infinite if you are the leader of the free world.
Despite the claims of his supporters and detractors to the contrary, President Trump’s first week in office hasn’t cemented his legacy. It has provided insight into an approach to political leadership that the world hasn’t experienced in years if at all. Love him or hate him, there are lessons to be learned as you seek to influence others in your world.
Randy Pennington is an award-winning author, speaker, and leading authority on helping organizations achieve positive results in a world of accelerating change. To bring Randy to your organization or event, visit www.penningtongroup.com , email email@example.com, or call 972.980.9857.