Thursday, 6 April 2017

Lessons from The Donald part ii

I am not an American and I did not vote in their recent election.  I have no party affiliations or preferences.  This blog is addressing issues of leadership.

As many of you know, I have blogged extensively on fundamental aspects of authentic leadership and how one must adhere to the highest moral, ethical and legal standards.  Character outweighs competence on my scorecard.

Using these criteria as my baseline, it is easy to see why Donald Trump has had difficulty getting his administration and his policies implemented.  Let’s review his scorecard on the four elements.

  1.     Authenticity:  Trump was legally elected and has the full weight of the US constitution to validate his position.  That cannot be argued.  The problem that he faces is that he did not win the popular vote and there are reasonable grounds to question the amount that foreign (Russian) intervention influenced the outcome.  While these two elements do not disqualify his election, they do prompt some questions.  And if inquiries do tie his campaign to the foreign interference, then his authenticity is clearly in doubt.
  2. Moral standards.  Trump’s own words show that he has abandoned any moral authority.  He has spoken out in a misogynous manner in the basest of terms; he has used a broad brush to paint Mexican immigrants as ‘bad hombres’; and he has castigated Muslims as threats to American security.  His comments are indiscriminate and offensive …and wrong.
  3.   Ethical standards. Trump began to gain national attention some years ago by becoming the face of the ‘birther’ issue regarding the nationality of Barack Obama.  He unsubstantiated comments were questionable to begin with and proven false when Obama released his birth certificate.  But nothing has slowed Trump’s propensity to make other equally dubious allegations and yet he remains entirely unapologetic.  Consequently his own actions disqualify him from achieving the ethical standard of leadership.
  4.  Legal standards.  Trump constantly uses social media to express opinions or to disseminate fake news.  The issue becomes a legal one when his comments cross over from being merely smoke screens and enter the realm of libel or outright lies.  I have already referenced the ‘birther’ matter but more recent claims that the former President authorized wire- tapping of Trump move the needle into the another more serious category.  And if his campaign is found to have been complicit with foreign interference of the US election, then all bets are off with respect to his legal authority.
I have no axe to grind with Trump.  Had Clinton been elected, at least some of these characteristics may have been called into question as well. 

The issue is that leadership - to be effective, productive, and sustainable – must meet at least the minimum standards of acceptable conduct in these key issues of character.  When it fails to do so, the individual cannot gain the traction they need to accomplish what they set out to do.  Effective leadership is defined by getting things done through others.  When the ‘others’ have reasonable cause to question the leadership standards in play, they naturally withhold their best efforts. 

If you are unable to reach the goals you have set out for your team, your first task is one of self-examination.  Have you committed to maintaining these aspects of character and are you meeting those commitments.  Don’t look at the performance of your team until you can honestly say that you are providing the leadership that is necessary.

It is early days for Trump.  If he can find the humility to apologize and work to regain some of the moral and ethical high ground, the next four years can make the world a better place.  His failure to do so may take us all into precarious times.

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