Mark Craemer 1 Comment

Donald Trump has garnered a significant lead in the early stages of the Republican presidential primary based—at least in part—on his bravado, brand recognition, and Washington-outsider perspective. Trump is also very good at saying provocative or ridiculous things that keep the discussion from more substantive issues.

It is very early in a long campaign and the polls surely reflect people’s dissatisfaction with the status quo. Trump does not speak for rank and file Republicans any more than Bernie Sanders speaks for the majority of Democrats.

However, Trump is building a serious following because he has many outstanding leadership qualities, including confidence, unrelenting tenacity, and fierce negotiating skills. These serve him well in business, but these alone are unlikely to translate into success in winning this campaign or in governing if he were to be elected to the Oval Office.

Let’s take a deeper look at the positive leadership he possesses.

  • Confidence – When it comes to leading, there may be no more important trait than confidence because without it one cannot make tough decisions. Self-confidence provides the foundation others need to see in order to follow. Trump may border on over-confidence at times and he may need to balance this with at least a little humility.
  • Tenacity – Those with tenacity are able to get things done because they don’t give up, and it enables them to stay in the fight when most others seek a way out. Tenacious leaders make good leaders because they are driven to win. No one separates winners from losers more quickly and vocally than Trump, but he should temper this with compassion in order to succeed in politics.
  • Negotiating Skills – No matter the leader, one needs to negotiate deals of some kind. Leaders with superior negotiating skills find ways to get deals done even when there is a standstill. In governing, however, you can’t simply throw more money at problems and exert sheer force of will get bills passed.

Trump has a history of demonstrating these three leadership skills that greatly contributed to his very successful business ventures.

On the other hand, Trump may lack leadership traits that are ultimately vital in effective leaders, especially those in politics. These include integrity, humility, and the ability to inspire and motivate people. Let’s look at each of these more closely.

  • Integrity – Though this term has become the “awesome” in overuse these days, we do want our leaders to have integrity. It’s hard to do the right thing when no one is watching even though, in this day and age, someone is always watching. Trump is constantly backpedaling with regard to the offensive remarks he makes towards a decorated veteran, Mexicans, women and fellow Republican candidates. One has to question whether he really has a soundness of moral character and honesty to lead effectively.
  • Humility – Being humble is never fully appreciated, but of utmost importance to lead effectively. Humility may appear to conflict with confidence, but it is really a counterbalance that prevents over-confidence. All too often, Trump speaks as if he has all the answers and doesn’t need others to help him solve complex problems. His egotistical nature may work in the commercial real estate business, but that won’t translate into governing domestically or effectively managing foreign policy.
  • Inspire and Motivate – The man who tried to trademark “You’re Fired!” is hardly the type to encourage and support others. Instead, Trump rules with an iron fist meant to scare others into performing. While this management technique may work in certain cases for short periods of time, it is not sustainable. And he cannot threaten American voters into voting for him at the risk of being fired. Trump is divisive in a way that provides nightly infotainment, but will not result in competently leading a nation.

In this country, billionaires can pretty much say and do just about anything they want. They can also buy whatever they want, including political influence. (Remember when democracy didn’t include the Koch brothers, George Soros and Citizens United?) But should a candidate be able to single-handedly purchase the highest office in the land?

There is no question Trump has been successful in business, however, that doesn’t necessarily translate into political success. Trump amassed a huge fortune from his various businesses and he has demonstrated many leadership qualities in this effort. But business success doesn’t necessarily translate into political success.

A Washington Post editorial about Donald Trump recently stated: “Anyone—we’re tempted to say any moron—can grab a torch and run in front of the mob. What takes talent is what you might call political anger management: to identify legitimate complaints and turn them into a constructive direction, on behalf of a governing prescription.”

Right now the leading candidates from both parties are polarizing figures: Trump and Hillary Clinton. What is unclear is whether either can be elected.

Leadership in politics, like leadership in business, requires a balanced approach and Donald Trump needs to shore up many areas of his skill set before he will be elected to high office and he can govern effectively.

photo credit: <a href=”″>Donald Trump</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>

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