In my June 17, 2017 article: Donald J. Trump: "Leader" or "Boss"??, I outlined my reasons for believing that U.S. President Donald Trump is far from the epitome of leadership, but is truly an abject failure as a “leader”. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/donald-j-trump-leader-boss-chris-lewis/
Many of his campaign aides and confidantes have been charged and sentenced to jail; are awaiting trial and/or currently under criminal investigation. Arguably, according to legal experts, if he wasn’t the sitting President of the United States he would have been indicted himself. In fact, he may well be charged with a variety of financial crimes as soon as he is out of office. He’s refused to open up his tax records despite almost four years of false promises to do so. Why?
He lauds tyrannical dictators like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un, but has alienated world leaders of many democratic nations. To what end?
Most recently, recordings of his interviews with famed journalist Bob Woodward for his upcoming book Rage, have clearly shown that he deliberately misled the American people about the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic, and despite knowing the reality of the virus’ threat, his failure to take decisive action in a timely way has led to the loss of thousands and thousands of U.S. lives.
But despite all of that and proffering lie after lie and spewing nonsensical drivel every time he opens his un-presidential mouth; and making almost every decision based on what will advance his own political career and family business interests – a large percentage of his base still believes he is the best thing for their country. That is frightening to me and should be to us all on both sides of the international border and beyond.
We have our own house of horrors from a federal leadership perspective in Canada as well, as our former drama teacher PM continues to demonstrate personal failings time after time, but this article isn’t about him. Stay tuned though!
Because of my interests in the topic of leadership and what makes good leaders great and bad leaders abysmal, it pains me to hear and see Trump’s sycophants speaking of him as a great “leader”, when in reality he is the total antithesis of a leader in every way humanly possible. Many of these marionettes were highly-critical of him and called him out quite honestly prior to his assumption of power. Now the Lindsey Graham’s of the world stare at him like they are love-struck teenagers and arduously defend his every bizarre move.
Let’s take a brief look at the qualities of a good leader versus what we see from Donald Trump:
True leaders effectively communicate in an open and honest way. Trump has told more lies in the past four years than all the prior U.S. Presidents combined, ever. Fact checkers point out dozens of his lies every time he speaks publicly. The Woodward tapes alone irrefutably show he has lied to the American people in a very dangerous way over the Corona-virus, to the point that he may have committed criminal offences akin to criminal negligence causing death.
He claims he didn’t want to unnecessarily inflame the pandemic situation or cause panic.
Real leaders strive to turn chaos into calm, but not at the expense of the loss of life! They tell the truth. They explain the situation; the risks involved and outline the plan of attack. They then keep people up to date – honestly, as what is being done and what to expect next, but inspire confidence that “we will get through this, together, as a team”.
What Trump did in this case is like a police chief telling the public that although they have heard that there is a sniper on the roof of a downtown building, there really isn’t, or he only has a squirt-gun, so they can safely walk the streets without fear. Or a fire chief telling tenants that the fire in their building was minor and was put out, only to have them enter back into an inferno and to their likely death. Would either of those situations demonstrate leadership?
Good leaders make decisions based on what is best for people they serve and the people they lead. Unlike Trump they don’t make decisions for personal gain, i.e. re-election. They make decisions that they know might personally hurt them, but they do so with the confidence that it is the right thing to do.
True leaders encourage dissention; criticism; feedback; suggestions and innovation. Trump routinely appoints people and sings their praises, but turns on them like a jackal when they don’t blindly agree with his every ridiculous whim. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Rex Tillerson, John Bolton, Generals John Kelly and James Mattis and dozens of others come to mind as those that were pushed to the side or fired and publicly vilified by Trump. No U.S. President since 1789 has had such an all-encompassing turnover of key administration members. Why is that? Certainly not because Trump is a great leader.
Great leaders give credit to those that deserve it and take the blame when things go bad. Donald Trump takes credit for things previous Presidents did or his advisors coached him on. The word “team” seldom passes his lips. The only time true leaders say “Me” or “I” is when they are asked who is responsible? They say “Me. I am”. Not Trump. Never.
Good leaders don’t profess to know it all. They pick good people, encourage them to offer the best advice and then act on it. As OPP Commissioner, I oversaw a budget well in excess of $1B. I am not good with money and have never been able to manage my personal chequing account without help. The OPP had wonderful financial experts that advised me as to what I could do, should do and how to do it, legally and in the best interests of OPP personnel and the people of Ontario. Trump on the other hand knows more than his Generals; more than his intelligence agencies and much more than Dr. Fauci. Think about that.
And lastly, real leaders set the positive example for those they lead. It’s never a “do as I say, not as I do” world to the true leaders. For example, hypothetically, if there was a deadly pandemic killing hundreds of thousands of followers and public health experts were telling people that wearing a mask to protect themselves and others was critically important, a real leader would wear a mask and not mock those that do.