Trump as a leader: Effective or Ineffective?

President Trump’s flip-flopping on placing flags at half-staff after the shooting at the Capital Gazette is the latest example of the will he or won’t he that has in part defined this presidency so far. Trump has been as divisive as a president can be, but, whatever your political views are, it is important to step back and try to evaluate the effectiveness of the leadership offered by our current president.

In his book 9 Things A Leader Must Do, Dr. Henry Cloud found nine things that defined great leaders. He said, “people who found what they were looking for in life seemed to do a certain set of things in common. I began to identify several ways of behaving and responding that successful leaders had in common- ways they handled themselves, their relationships, their work and their lives.”

Does Trump do these nine things? Let’s see.

1.       Excavate your soul

The successful leader is not afraid of the downside of taking risks. But the leader does not jump off cliffs and then expect good things to happen. To the contrary the healthy risk is calculated, integrated, and then executed with diligence and thoughtfulness.

Trump does not seem to fit this bill. Many of the decisions Trump has made, from leaving NAFTA to exiting the UN Human Rights Council, have not seemed to be well calculated and have instead seemed to be responses to criticisms and based on personal views or vendettas.

2.       Yank the diseased tooth

The successful leader does not allow negative things to take up space in their lives.

Trump seems to do the opposite of this in fact, stirring up negativity and name calling frequently over Twitter.

3.       Play the whole movie

The successful leader evaluates their decisions in the present based on how they will affect the future. In short, they rarely do anything without thinking of the ultimate consequences.

Again, Trump’s decisions often seem rash and not well thought out.

4.       Put superman out of a job

The successful leader continually asks, “What can I do to make this situation better?” and then they do something!

Trump typically inflames the situation, like when he called out NFL players for kneeling with inappropriate language.

5.       Embrace your inner insect

The successful leader achieves big goals by taking small steps over time.

The decisions Trump makes often seem to be more about big names or making a splash as opposed to making actual progress.

6.       Earn a black belt in hate

The successful leader develops the ability to hate the right things well. They move against the problem and show love and respect to the person at the same time; and transform it to the kind of hate that solves problems, protects things that you value, and stands against the things that you do not want in your life and work.

Trump hates, he just typically hates in ways that do not solve the situation – like separating immigrant families despite proof of the psychological harm this does to young children. A successful leader would work towards make situations better with their passion on issues, not inflaming them.

7.       Forget about playing fair

The successful leader gives back better than they are given. People who succeed in leadership and life do not go around settling scores. They do not even keep the score. They “run up the score” by doing good to others, even when others did not deserve it.

This especially is an area where we have seen ineffective leadership from President Trump, as evidenced by multiple situations of escalating tensions because of name calling (North Korea) or provocative tweets.

8.       Quit self-exaggeration

The successful leader does not strive to be or to appear more than they really are.

Another area of ineffectiveness for President Trump, who once said “I am the only one that matters,” with regards to setting foreign policy.

9.        Ignore the popularity polls

The successful leader does not make decisions based on the fear of other people’s reactions.

President Trump has done this, just not in a way that many people in the country have liked. He has done what he thought was best and stuck with it, only changing course of action when public opinion is overwhelmingly against him – like with signing the executive order on family separation or changing his mind on the flags for the Capital Gazette. When successful leaders do this, it is typically layered on the other things above, where action that has been taken has been well thought out and is intentional. Trump does this, just without all the other important aspects of a great leader that underlie it.

Going by these nine criteria, it appears that Trump, regardless of viewpoint, does not conduct himself in ways that an effective leader would.

Thank you, Dr. Cloud, for allowing us to leverage your material here.

Until we meet again, busy seeing the Champion in you.

Dr. Tomi Bryan

Champions in Action at the French Open

Last week I had the opportunity to watch champions in action while attending the French Open. One of the matches that I saw -  Alexander Zverev vs Damir Dzumhur – stuck out for me because of the quality of the competition, and because of what happened near the end.

At 21, the young Zverev has already risen into the top five in the rankings, and Dzumhur, at 26, currently has a career high ranking of 29. Their match was a clash between two tennis players competing at their highest levels.

Dzumhur played exceptionally well; he got up two sets to one and was serving for the match at 6-5 in the fourth set against the #2 player in the world at one of the biggest tournaments in the world. I wondered to myself whether he would be able to hold his nerve (and his serve).

Zverev ended up breaking Dzumhur’s serve with ease and went on to win the match. At the most crucial moment of the match, Dzumhur was unable to find his next gear but Zverev was. That was the difference between winning and losing. Dzumhur did everything right to get his chance to win but faltered right before the finish line.

I saw similar patterns in the other matches I watched at the French Open. The difference between victory and defeat for many of the players was their ability (or inability) to find their next gear at the most critical moments.  Some players were overwhelmed by the moment. Others overwhelmed the moment.

In sports, the best teams and most elite performers in the world are the ones that know how to find their next gear in the key moments. Zverev, the #2 player in the world, was able to step his game up when he needed it most, and because of that, he moved on to the next round.

Sport provides one of the more salient examples of how important it is to find your next gear, as it manufactures turning points where an athlete must either step up or step out and go home. Our daily lives produce these same moments - less frequently but no less important than the ones faced by these world class athletes.

These moments challenge us to find our next gear, to step up and perform in key moments so that we too may attain the levels of success that we desire. And, just like the athletes we see on television, if we don’t step up, then we too may never reach the levels of peak performance we desire.

Until we meet again, busy seeing the Champion in you.

Dr. Tomi

Don't Let Life Pass You By

My husband and I are preparing for an eventual move from our home of 20+ years. Recently I have been on a cleaning spree to prepare, and the hard drive on my computer was no exception. As I organized my files, I came across an old poem I wrote.

Time Gone By

Lost in thoughts of days gone by,
Who was I then?
Tick, tock, tick, tock.

Lost in thoughts of this moment,
Who am I now?
Tick, tock, tick, tock.

Lost in thoughts of the future,
Who can I be?
Tick, tock, tick, tock.

Time has run out... why did I waste my life being lost?

I sat in silence after reading it, thinking on how easy it is to put ourselves in a rut and let life pass us by, and on what the opposite of this poem would be. I wondered, “how do great leaders spend their time? How do they avoid the life potential trap of woulda-coulda-shoulda?” Then I went back to deleting old files off my computer. Apparently, the question wasn’t compelling enough. Or so I thought.

Later that same afternoon, my younger son, Warren, wanted to go to the bookstore. I wasn’t looking for a book, but elected to go, as I have always loved the feel of the bookstore and being in the presence of so much wisdom.

We went to the bookstore, and I did my usual perusing of the aisles. One book caught my eye: Messages From The Masters by Dr. Brian Weiss. The only other book I had read by Dr. Weiss, Many Masters, Many Lives, had caused me to change some of my world views, so I figured it was worth a shot.

I couldn’t put that book down. The pages of Messages From The Masters spoke right to the heart of my poem Time Gone By:

So wake up and climb out of your rut. If you stay asleep, you will grow old still asleep and you will miss your life’s potential.

Live in the present, not the past or the future. The past is over, learn from it and let it go. The future is not yet here. Plan for it, but do not worry. Worry only wastes your time and energy.  (p. 130)

Great leaders - masters - wake up. They don’t miss their life’s potential, and they do it by living in the present, letting go of the past, and planning for the future. Then they let the rest go.

Dr. Tomi

Do You Have The Guts To Be Great?

Do You Have The Guts To Be Great?

Part of the challenge of becoming a great leader is that - to reach the threshold where we move from good to great - we must be willing to step outside our comfort zones. Being great requires the guts to step beyond good and to quest for more.

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