Trump, Ethics and Effectiveness

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Today the USA bids farewell to the most divisive US President in living memory.

You’ve probably noticed.

Whilst many will feel relief at the ending of his chaotic time in office, it must be admitted that in both garnering 74 million re-election votes, and then convincing a fair chunk of those voters that their ‘victory’ had been ‘stolen’, Donald Trump demonstrated other-worldy powers of leadership. No one sells the big lie quite like Mr Trump.

Moreover, his tactics are admired by some who might be expected to hold higher ideals. As recently as December 2020 local party activists of the Conservative Party in Wellingborough stood accused of a secret policy to ‘openly lie’ after a newsletter sought to ‘learn’ from Trump’s ability to successfully ‘weaponise fake news’.

The Huffington Post reports that the group said;

“Trump has learnt that a ‘lie can go around the whole world before the truth can get its boots on…If you make enough dubious claims, fast enough, honest speakers are overwhelmed. If someone tweets ten dubious claims per day and it takes you a week to disprove each one, then you are doomed. 

“It runs counter to everything that traditional politicians are taught – viz. never say anything that is not 100% accurate. The problem is that 100% right, two weeks late equals defeat.

“Sometimes, it is better to give the WRONG answer at the RIGHT time, than the RIGHT answer at the WRONG time.”

Is it? Should we, as business leaders, forget about ethics and purpose, and adopt the self-interested leadership methods of the proto-tyrant? After all, isn’t it whispered that narcissistic psychopathy is as handy in business as it is in pitiless crime?

Well, there are grounds to hope not. Perhaps the reason that Mr Trump has been able to so effectively sell his narrow appeal to one group, within one community, in one nation is that his message offers visceral appeal to fear of a rapidly changing world. The fear of diversity.

In 2016 Deloitte described ‘four global mega trends that are reshaping the environment and influencing business priorities’.  They forecast increasing diversity of markets, of customers, of ideas and of talent. And they predicted that the leadership required in this business environment demanded six key traits – Curiosity, Cultural Intelligence, Collaboration, Commitment, Courage and Cognisance.

So, whilst it’s clear that Mr Trump’s abusive, fist pumping, rabble rousing, hire-n-fire leadership style can be brutally effective, and appealing to a certain brand of Tory activist, it might not represent the best ‘playbook’ for the workplace.

Here at Equal Talent, we see inclusive leaders, inclusive cultures, and inclusive teams as critical to organisational success. Over the next few months we will explore the ways to achieve this. If you share our approach, please join us!

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