3 June 2019

trump twitterLead by example. That’s the phrase we hear all the time when leadership is concerned, whether that’s in business or in your personal life, as a parent or a manager.

When you hold one of the most powerful leadership positions in the world, I would assume that leading by example is even more important, surely. Yet, US President Donald Trump seems to be playing by a different set of rules.

For example when you treat people with respect, you engender respect from them. Perhaps it is no surprise then that Trump has been greeted in London with protests and even a balloon depicting him as a baby.

When you consider his disrespectful approach to communication, to leaders of other countries, and to our own politicians and Royal Family, there’s little surprise that the British public failed to show him the respect you’d expect to be shown to the Office of the President of the United States.

Protests in the city

A huge number of people took to the streets of the capital yesterday to protest Trump’s visit. People protesting climate change, protesting his hunger for the NHS, protesting his corporate focus, protesting his very presence in the UK!

When you really think about it, the President of America is one of the most powerful roles in the western world, so how can the brand have been damaged dramatically in such a short space of time? Is that damage irreparable?

I have to wonder what the 2020 leadership race will hold. With Barack Obama’s transformative legacy fading into history, the Trump era is marching on significantly longer than I think many people expected. Could he take on a second term? I honestly have no idea.

Whatever the case, it’s a real lesson in leadership. When you present yourself as someone impulsive, who openly insults people, how can you expect to be trusted and respected to lead the country?

The way that he and his team have handled the numerous investigations, sackings, controversies and questions around Trump’s term as POTUS so far are, to me, a teaching in what not to do as a leader.

The very best leaders are humble enough to take on feedback, to share praise with their teams and learn from their mistakes. They’re evolving, growing and encouraging. They’re also transparent and communicative.

Transparency

For me, that’s one of the greatest lessons here – transparency. I have learned over the years that communication is one of the absolute foundations of leadership. Trump has created his own brand of misinformation, right from the get-go when he quoted vastly different numbers of attendees at his inauguration than the rest of the media. Just this week he called the protests in London ‘fake news’ despite driving by the crowds of people on his way through the capital.

Is that the behaviour that will engender loyalty ahead of an election campaign?

Unfortunately, this misinformation has become synonymous with Trump and his ‘fake news’ era. So much so that Twitter was awash with images purportedly showing the crowds lining the streets of London to celebrate his arrival. However, anyone familiar with Britain could spot the Liver Building and docks in the background, and the fact that the majority of the crowds in the pictures were dressed in red. The images are in fact from Liverpool FC’s Champions League victory parade. It’s hard to know which information to trust when the President says one thing and mass media say another, and social media another again.

I have no idea what the future holds for the Office of POTUS but I will certainly be watching with interest.

 

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