The Trump Style: You may not like it. But it evidently works.

The Trump Style: You may not like it. But it evidently works.

Who would have thought that textbooks and workshops dealing with leadership would have to be so hastily rewritten?

Most of us old geezers have grown up in a world where we learned that successful leadership styles embrace certain tactics and values: telling the truth, respecting others, being inclusive, showing empathy, disagreeing gracefully, and seeking to win-win.

Well, clearly, maybe in the zeal to demonstrate how these elements of leadership are universal and must be embraced to succeed, we forgot that there are other ways to lead; other ways to power; other ways to get elected.

Few saw it coming. A new leadership style has won the day!

Telling lies, being disrespectful, pursuing exclusivity, demonstrating mercilessness, disagreeing forcefully, and tearing people down have been demonstrated to be leadership tactics and values that succeed.

(I will not bore you with examples of how Trump has used “all of the above”. If you disagree and believe he has not, you probably should read no further.)

Forget diplomacy, consensus building, and mediation. Those are meek attributes of leadership now. Now the name of the game is win at all costs, tear people down so you can build them back up, make them worship you. You are their leader!

So the issue at hand is, how much credence do we give this incident of success – Trump winning the Presidency – as an affirmation of this leadership style? Is it replicable elsewhere in business, government, and civil settings?

There are plenty of examples of some elements of similar to this Trumpanesque leadership style succeeding through the ages. Whether you like it or not – whether you agree with the results or not; whether you think it is right or wrong – the fact is that this leadership style works. It leads to success – at least for the leader.

We see this Trumpanesque leadership style in business all the time. Indeed, it could be argued that the only way to build a major company is to use many of these tactics. “All is fair in love and war.” Exxon, Goldman Sachs, and the like did not get powerful by being nice, accommodating, and empathetic. No. Ruthless “take no prisoner” approach to the cut-throat world of business got them to where they are today – highly successful enterprises.

We see this leadership style less in government, some might argue. But yet, historical examples abound. From the days of Genghis Khan to Adolf Hitler, history is full of merciless leaders that succeeded using these tactics and values. We don’t have to look too far back. Hugo Chavez in Venezuela (a duly elected leader) and Fidel Castro in Cuba (a Trojan horse if there ever was one) both demonstrated similar approach to gaining – and staying in – power. Indeed, even today we see Putin in Russia having over 75% approval rating, though he is unapologetically totalitarian and dictatorial.

In civic life these Tumpanesque values and tactics may not be as prevalent – but they do exist. More often than not they manifest themselves in manipulation and deception… But they are there nonetheless. More often than not they continue to exist because of apathy and neglect of the general public. But they exist nonetheless. When no one else steps up to lead, the self-absorbed, self-centered leaders step into the vacuum.

So, lest we give Mr. Trump too much credit, his leadership style has been around for a while and exists in varying ways…

… Maybe it is time we teach it in our schools and incorporate it in the bureaucracy.

After all, if it worked for the Chief, it should work for his followers, right? I expect no less from this Administration.

… and I – and many who remain committed to building a diverse, inclusive, and respectful society – will fight them (gracefully – but firmly!) every step of the way …

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Just checking. To my Trumpistas friends and family: Are you still ok with this?

I actually have friends – good friends at that – who I respect greatly for their values and decency AND voted for Trump. While I disagree with their vote – and certainly do not understand it – they are still my friends. Gee, some are even family members!

Some have distanced themselves from me. They simply do not appreciate my continuing soap box. They don’t understand why I am still so fixated on the election and the consequences of a Trump presidency.

While it is unlikely any of them will be reading this post, nonetheless I’d like to ask them: “You ok?”

I mean, it seems relatively obvious to the most casual of observers that what we are getting – while it may be what the Trumpistas asked for – is turning out to be quite ‘out there’.

  • I get that parts of the Federal Government are broken and need fixing.
  • I get that some of our international relations are due for rethinking.
  • I get that in some instances regulations have gone too far.
  • I get that many are not realizing real benefits from the sluggish economic recovery.
  • I get that Obamacare is a bureaucratic mess.
  • I get that big business and the military industries are in what some would call ‘disproportionate control’ of our world.
  • I get that political correctness has run amuck.
  • I get that some social agendas are the antithesis of some faith group’s core beliefs.

I get all of that – and much more.

Still, amigo, are you ok with the President Elect’s Cabinet picks and policy posturing? It is one thing to want to fix what is broken; re-examine certain policies; and, float some fresh ideas. It is another to destroy decades of progress by committed professional and yes, good bureaucrats; pursue critical policy shifts through Tweets; and, come up with ideas that are simply not thought through to their logical conclusions – or not be concerned about the real impact of even floating the idea.

These things have consequences. And, they have ‘real life’ impact on our world, how we live in our neighborhoods, how we function as a society.

Are you ok with teaching our children that the world was created 6000 years ago? At least three Cabinet appointees – and the VP-elect – all have this ‘pseudo-science’ belief and certainly would want it taught in schools.

Are you ok with keeping the minimum wage where it is? (It has not been increased since 2009; it stands at $7.25.) The Department of Labor Secretary nominee certainly thinks so.

Are you ok with chumming up to Russia? The Secretary of State nominee certainly thinks so. Indeed, he has been honored by Putin. (Explain to me how it is ok do business with Russia and not Cuba. But, I digress.)

Are you ok with landlords being able to deny housing to someone based on race? The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development nominee has stated that the day is passed when we need anti-discrimination housing laws. He sees no needs for these laws and regulations.

Are you ok with a Federal department demanding employees reveal their political inclinations? The Secretary of the Environment Protection Agency nominee has already indicated he will be asking this very question of employees. (Some call this a ‘witch hunt’. It is.)

Are you ok with a President whose style has been demonstrated to be ‘insult first; ask questions later’? Forget all the groups he insulted during the campaign. As President-elect this pattern of behavior has continued. Most recently he has insulted the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) by questioning their integrity via a Tweet… Via a Tweet!

It is one thing to have apprehensions about the CIA, engage in dialogue regarding their operations and findings, inquire and seek more information on which they based their decisions. It is quite another to disrespectfully question their integrity… Via a Tweet!

To my dear Trumpistas friends and family: Just checking. Are you still ok with this?!?

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A non-conventional candidate and soon to be a non-conventional president may just be leading us to a very conventional war

Our narcissist nationalist President-elect is being hailed by his supporters as a soon to be non-conventional President. While this may be entertaining in certain domestic policy areas, it is right down dangerous in the international stage.

It is one thing to rant about SNL or a Broadway show. It is another to break with decades of diplomatic protocol (i.e.: calling the President of Taiwan) or Tweeting up a storm against China and threatening them with tariffs. “Oh, it is just how he is”, they squirm. “Woohoo!” they say… “Ain’t it great? He’ll show them!” Yeah, right. Sure.

Well, it is one thing to play President. It is another to be President.

While we all must wait till he is actually in Office to see what actions he will take, his antics and impromptu machismo and chest-pumping does not bode well for the fragile world in which we live.

He can shout all he wants about American Exceptionalism, Manifest Destiny, and American Pride. I am sure his supporters will eat it up.

But, to many throughout the world – including some right here at home – America remains a nation-state created through genocide of the Native America people, enslavement of Africans, and exploitation of Mexicans. There’s nothing ‘exceptional’ about that history. The only manifest destiny that using 95% of the world’s resources with only 5 % of the world’s population will get us is a scorched earth. And a perverse pride based on demeaning others is not a sign of strength, but a sign of immaturity and insecurity.

We may not like what others think about us. We may have a ‘perfect argument’ for them. We may vehemently believe differently. But to dismiss others perspectives as ‘they are wrong and we are right’ is a dangerous proposition for international relations.

The universe does not revolve around us. We are still very much an imperfect Union. And yes, we have lots to learn from others throughout the world. To be self-righteous, self-indulging and selfish might feel good; but it is not good international posturing.

The President-elect can talk tough, be a ‘strong man’, and humiliate others and other nations all he wants. His self-righteousness and self-centered ego-inflating remarks might work internally in the domestic politics arena. However, it is simply the wrong approach in the complex, dangerous world of international politics.

He may think that since he is duly elected he can assert his punch. But, he runs the real danger of being a legend in his own mind. This may play well with his supporters. But, the fact that 75% of American over 18 years old chose to either not vote or vote for someone else indicates where the vast of America really is – not with him! (He should never ever forget that. Most President before him never did. Most recognized that they needed to be President for all Americans, not just the minority that voted for them.)

Might might make right; but might that leads to fight can be plain wrong.

If this President-elect has nothing to learn from mediation, conflict resolution, consensus building, and diplomacy – and a dash of humility – and instead insists on ‘winning’ internationally only through intimidation, insults, and demeaning the ‘enemies’ – if all this President-elect knows is how to make war rather than create peace, we are in for some dangerous times ahead. (I pray I am proved wrong!)

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Call me touchie-feelie

Call me touchie-feelie. I yearn for a President that I can respect; a President I can believe; a President I can support.

I yearn for a President that conveys aspiration – not intimidation; a President that is inspirational – not dictatorial; a President that demonstrates critical thinking – not impulsive criticism.

But, I have Trump. A man who I do not respect; consistently lies; and seeks to take America in a direction I cannot support.

Trump, a man who intimidates, dictates, and criticizes impulsively.  He is our President-elect.

We have a President-elect who refuses to address – and rather seems determined to exasperate – the negative aspects of the:

  • Plight of the poor;
  • Hopelessness of the homeless;
  • Isolation of immigrants;
  • Disengagement of the disabled;
  • Insecurity of seniors; and,
  • Fright of minorities.

How do you live in a country where you so oppose the person – and many of the negative, hurtful policies of those – in highest power? How do you relate to – live with – those who respect, believe, and support him and those policies?

One approach is to realize that through most of human history most people have lived in these circumstances. Be it the king, the tyrant, the dictator, or the duly elected, most people have to live in a situation where they disagree – sometimes vehemently – with those in power. Yet live they must. Live they do. Live we will.

Some choose to divert from the political scene. Divert to all the wonderful aspects of life to be lived regardless of the human condition: Love those around you; enjoy the little things that matter; appreciate life regardless… And that I understand.

At the other end of the spectrum, a few choose to fight. Go underground. Flee. Find others that are willing to fight, both figuratively and literally. Do whatever it takes. Through whatever means are necessary… And that approach I will not take.

Many of us in the middle choose to work within the system – as imperfect and flawed as it is – to do what we can to change the things we don’t like, those things we disagree with, those things we feel strongly about… And this is what I choose to do.

In the absence of empathetic and caring leadership from the top, it is incumbent upon us who dare to dream differently – particularly those of us who know ‘the system’ – to be there for those in need; for those that have no political power…

This is not the time to despair. The poor, the homeless, the immigrants, the disabled, the seniors, and the minorities are counting on us. Time to get to work!

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