As the many faces of Trump played out before the nation at yesterday’s now-notorious press conference, I continued to be inspired by the lessons Trump teaches (or reminds) us about leadership:
1. When I believe only I have the answers, I care less about the experience and expertise of others. I hire and hang on to the wrong people and fail to interest the best and brightest A-players, who avoid working for “my way or the highway” bosses like me. The lesson: leader as coach means your job is to exercise some humility, recruit the best players, guide and inspire them with your vision and road map, and not try to play their positions. That’s plenty to do without having to know it all too.
2. When I bully others, it says I expect a combative, competitive environment among my own team, which creates role confusion and power struggles. That makes loyalty leaky even among those I think I can trust. Rather than support me, I will be undermined. The lesson: tone down the bullying behavior. Clearly define your lines of authority and responsibility, and reward cooperation rather than competition among the players on your team.
3. When I manage by exaggerating existing fears, I scare people, and that kills morale, teamwork, collaboration, and possibility-thinking about a better future. It divides efforts rather than unites them. The lesson: balance pragmatism and transparency (rather than exaggeration of fears) with hope’s possibilities.
4. When I discuss and rehash the unchangeable past, it creates a sinkhole of neurotic, sad and desperate. Leadership happens only in the timeframe of the present to the future. The lesson: You need to make a 100% commitment to skip statements, questions, and comments related to the past, and stick with a forward-looking set of initiatives and messages.
5. When what people say (not to mention think) of me is overly important to me, I waste too much time on opinion-management, leaving me short on time for doing stuff. I promise too much, deliver too little, and become the object of the negative opinions I’m trying to avoid. The lesson: less of your presence can leave you more time for results. Remember that people’s opinions are data to be considered along with feelings, facts, and your vision and strategy. Opinions are better as inputs rather than goals.
6. When I devalue good feedback, blaming the messenger, I avoid opportunities to upgrade my leadership and ultimately my legacy. The lesson: feedback isn’t the enemy! It’s the breakfast of champions. Take it in, consider it, take what you can use and leave the rest.
7. When constructive disruption of norms—even if well-intentioned—goes faster than the absorption rate of the culture that created them, disruption becomes destruction. The lesson: ease up on the speed of change until the people, process, resources, and road map are in place. There’s generally no speed bonus for greatness—it usually takes time and effort.