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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