TTP: The Trump Rule

TTP: The Trump Rule

As promised, and promised, and promised again, henceforth and forever more shall it stand, drum roll, here is the Trump Rule:

You must react to Trump’s leadership in your own leadership.

That’s it. Underwhelmed? Don’t be! Please remove your finger from that delete button for one minute…let me explain.

Some of Trump’s presidency is unique. Some isn’t. Within the unique side, this is true: there is no other American president in our lifetime or memory who will inevitably be inserted, injected, or implanted (you pick) into your place of daily leadership as Trump will be.

You will have to contend with it, like it or not, love him or hate him, seek it out or try to ignore it. It won’t matter. He’ll show up, one way or another, and you’ll be called upon to respond in the moment, in the instant.

That’s my Trump Rule.

The Trump Rule will apply because of three things: first, policies; second, style; and third, the mix of the two.

The first reason (policies) isn’t anything new. You’d see the same sort of thing with particular decisions and actions of previous American Presidents.

The second reason (style, as in leadership style) is new. No other American President demonstrated such a stylized approach to leadership. There is a Trumpian style of leadership.

This is especially significant because, and I’ll flat-out guarantee that you’ll see it happen or hear of it happening from friends and colleagues, there will be people who will emulate Trump’s leadership style. It will start with bluntness and directness, decisiveness and a preference for action over deliberation. That’s Level One. It will then shift to assertiveness, or Level Two. In some instances, it will keep shifting until it reaches bluster, bombast, and aggressiveness. That’s Level Three through Ten.

I’m not saying that it’s all bad. There are aspects of this style that, frankly, can be very effective (see Level One and a dash of Level Two) and ought to be applied in appropriate moments. But trouble is in the offing if a person goes full-on Trump and races into Level Three through Ten. Most of us can’t get away with that and shouldn’t get away with that. Again, it just wouldn’t surprise me if you have folks who love Trump and see him as a good leadership model. If you’re a leader in the place where they attempt it, you’ll have to respond.

The third reason behind the Trump Rule (the mix of policies and leadership style) is where you’ll likely see those fiercely opposed to Trump. They will refuse to see anything between zero and 100 where Trump is concerned; he’s the devil and anyone denying it is the devil’s minion, while those arrayed against him are doing holy work. No nuance, no grays, no middle ground of any sort. Interestingly, they will share that attitude with those at the other end of the spectrum who see Trump as the nation’s savior. (If you’re thinking politics make for strange bedfellows, you’re on the right track)

I added this third reason because of what I said above for the first reason. We’ve had controversial policies and decisions in the Presidency that didn’t intrude much, if at all, into your place of leadership. But when you consider the blend of controversial policies and decisions together with Trump’s personal style, then we enter new territory. So, for the purposes of The Trump Rule, the second and third reasons constitute a unique period of time in the next four years.

If I’m you—and I’ve lasted down to this point in my post!—I’m likely thinking, OK, The Trump Rule makes sense, but how might it happen to me?

A few examples to get you ready. In a meeting, someone decides to act like Trump. You are now face-to-face with The Trump Rule. In informal chatting or conversation, someone overhears another person say something about an action or decision of Trump and they go ballistic. You are now face-to-face with The Trump Rule. Or maybe one of actual Trump’s decisions or actions does in fact affect your place of leadership (that’s very likely) and folks around you, whether Trump-lovers or Trump-haters, know it’s all because of Trump. You are now face-to-face with The Trump Rule.

You have to figure out what your approach as a leader is going to be when The Trump Rule kicks into gear at your place of leadership.

I close with a batch of thoughts as you reflect on your approach during those times when The Trump Rule is operative:

  • listen respectfully, listen actively, listen genuinely
  • invoke your own views secondarily, if at all, but never use them in an initial or opening fashion
  • encourage people to seek out other views, to round out their knowledge and awareness
  • encourage people to remember that we’ve been here before (which we have)
  • help fit the situation into the culture, identity, and values of your overall team or group or entity; remind everyone that this is the important point about all of the time spend together by your followers (can you then tell a story of when people disagreed strongly in your place of leadership?)
  • when possible, help people see that it is external events that often have the biggest impact—that will be true for this Presidency, too—and that these events can shift dynamics very rapidly
  • leave people with the permanent takeaway that we must be able to talk with (not “to”) each other

To me, a leader is a person with one or more followers. As a leader in 2017, you have an added challenge for your leadership—you will encounter The Trump Rule.

Action-Point: The Trump Rule is “You must react to Trump’s leadership in your own leadership.” It is a new added responsibility to your leadership in the months ahead.

Next time: Obamacare/The Affordable Care Act of 1854 (yes, you read the year correctly) and what it means for 2017.

Comments

  1. Wendy Loker says:

    Interesting that you suggest leaders react to incidents by listening as a primary response. So respond in a way Trump would not? Maybe an effective leadership model is, do the opposite of Trump’s behavior.

  2. Kevin Klemme says:

    And Dan’s rule is immediately demonstrated by the the first comment. Trump doesn’t listen? He clearly heard something that nobody else did, and that’s why he’s sitting in the White House. Doing the opposite of what Trump did would have been to lose the election. Maybe we have to understand what makes him effective and choose the acceptable parts of it.

  3. John Carreon says:

    Dan, I agree with the premise of the Trump Rule. My question to you is: what role do you believe Empathy plays in the Rule, or leadership in general?

    As you, I do not use Social Media as a political platform. But, I can’t sit on the sidelines anymore. To me, Trump is only a leader in the sense that he has followers. To me, a true leader has Empathy. Do you think would have stopped the train like Lincoln did to save a pig?

    Thanks for the piece on Trump.

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