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From The WWE to the White House - Don't Steal Donald Trump's Leadership Style

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 1/03/2016 Gene Hammett
GOP © shutterstock GOP

The GOP race seems more like a WWE event than a political race. The name calling and the poking fun is entertaining, but it is eroding the character of nearly all the candidates.
Let's just say that the campaign trail has been quite interesting so far for 2016. We have had some surprises and, of course, some things have been going like politics as usual.
I'll be honest with you, Donald Trump's run in the 2012 presidential election was more of a joke to me than something to be taken seriously. And that is something I'm still struggling with in 2016.
As of this moment, there is a fierce battle raging for the Republican nomination. We are right at the Super Tuesday junction of the political process.
Trump is positioning himself to be the front runner and the next few days will likely give us the indication of the GOP nominee.
The media is constantly bombarding us with what is going to get them good ratings which is mostly filled with Trump's antics that have gotten him so much attention.
There are political and personal attacks (on and off the debate stages) and lots of attitude via social media.
Success with money is something that few people would argue when it comes to Donald Trump. In September 2015, Forbes put his net worth at $4.5 billion. However, Trump claims he's worth $10 billion or more, $3 billion of which is the value of his "brand."
Over the years, Trump has developed leadership traits that have given him success in the business world. No one will argue that his self-confidence is off the charts. He does not seem to have much doubt about his abilities or talents.
He also has an ability to see the talent in others. I admit to watching the occasional episode of the Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice for the sheer entertainment value.
And in doing so, I noticed that Trump was able to make quick decisions on firing when the time came.
But leadership has many dimensions that lead to greatness. It takes more than confidence and firing people to create effective leadership especially leadership for an entire nation.
With all that said, the way Trump has behaved and reacted during the 2016 election, I have noticed a few serious issues with Trump's leadership style that would surely damage your company if the leaders were working from the same "WWE script".
1. Strong Positions
Great leaders take a stance on the issue. They make decisions based on these positions (aka their point-of-view). Well, Trump has flipped flopped more than a few times on top issues. You might even say he is wishy washy.
Some examples where exposed by Steven Colbert's Moderates the Donald vs. Trump Debate.
Trump once said, "No one likes Ted Cruz." Then in a different event Trump said, "I really do like Ted Cruz a lot."
Another example of switching positions, Trump said, "Hillary Clinton was the worst Secretary of State in the history of the United States." Then at another event, he said, "Hillary Clinton is a terrific woman. She does a good job. I really like her."
Another glaring demonstration in communication challenges is his position on "immigration". This is where his positioning seems ironic. Trump has taken a hardline on immigrants in speeches and even made a big deal about building walls on the borders. Yet at home, he is surrounded by immigrants, such as his current wife, Melania and previous wife, Ivanna, both of whom are immigrants.
Contradictory statements erode trust with followers because they never know from one day to the next where you are going to come down on a certain issue.
2. Communication
Sharing visions, declaring new futures, and even leading requires the critically important gift of clarity in communication. I often work with leadership teams to engage their followers. Here are 5 ways to improve leadership communication immediately.
Trump is certainly a communicator in a traditional sense. However, he brings it with an ego that makes him more difficult to follow. Often, he talks down to others that disagree with him. Combatively criticizing the intelligence of anyone who would dare to follow his every whim.
Trump once said, "How stupid are the people of Iowa?" This is not the typical rhetoric of a strong leader. Trump even moves to name calling at times.
In the Republican debate on February 7th, 2016, Trump referred to Jeb Bush with a dose of sarcasm, "Jeb wants to be a tough guy." The studio audience was not appreciative of Trump's behavior either and loudly booed him during this exchange.
Trump continued his attacks on Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Ted Cruz in the last Republican debate Feb 25, 2016.
Leadership communication is a non-negotiable if you want your followers to follow.
3. Empathy
Leadership requires a healthy dose of empathy. Leaders that lack the ability to care for their followers tend to struggle with the issue of trust and loyalty. These are quite important to engaging others and influencing them over time.
Trump's leadership style is focused on himself without concern for others. Trump lives in a world where he has to be right. This sole focus on himself makes empathy a struggle. We look at great leaders, such as...

  • Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook
  • Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn
  • Fred Smith, FedEx
  • Mark Banioff,

These leaders are admired by their employees and others. They have a genuine care for their followers. In fact, great leaders seem to care more for their followers than they do for themselves.
4. Presence
Presence is the ability to consistently and clearly articulate your value proposition while influencing and connecting with others. Leadership presence is commonly described as confident, authentic, and effective.
Presence also usually includes a dose of humility and modesty. Trump is quite a stranger to both of these traits.
One example of Trump's lack of modesty was his statement in backing out of the presidential election in 2011, Trump stated, "I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and, ultimately, the general election."
No two great leaders have the same exact leadership style; however, in my world, I want to create an environment of trust and open communication with my employees and my clients. I want them to know that I understand what is going on their lives and I actually care about them. Those things pave the way for long lasting business relationships (and thus businesses). Being a bully doesn't make people want to work with you. So unless you want to be bully, don't steal your leadership style from Trump.
If you are looking for more on Trump's flip-flops and his business screw ups, check out the episode from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

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