As I sit and reflect on the outcome of the US Presidential Election, one in which, one of the most polarizing people on the planet managed to gain the second-highest Presidential vote of all time, I ask myself what does this tell us about leadership.
Now to be clear this post is not about bashing anyone, in fact, I think it might be more about bashing some of the strongly believed concepts of leadership.
Many experts and authors on leadership, myself included, have often written that in leadership there are some key qualities that define what a good leadership is and that without them you cannot be a good leader.
Jim Collins in Good to Great talks about the defining characteristic of a level 5 leader being humility. Simon Sinek and Brene Brown talk about vulnerability, and how leaders need to be able to show vulnerability in order to lead.
As for Integrity, if I had a dollar for every person who has written, said, or taught that integrity is the cornerstone of good leadership I would probably be richer than Jeff Bezos.
Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman an expert in this area says that “CEOs are hired for their intellect and business expertise – but fired for their lack of emotional intelligence¨ and I would agree with him on the importance of emotional intelligence in leadership.
I myself have written dozens of posts on the importance of Accountability. That to be successful you need to build cultures of accountability and that it all starts at the top with the leader. No blaming or shaming others, no dodging of your responsibilities. Accountable leaders take ownership of the problems, they admit and own their mistakes and look to make amends.
The list of admirable leadership traits is long trust, inclusiveness, honesty, openness, respectfulness, loyalty, etc., etc.
Yet how many of these qualities does Donald Trump possess?
Again, this post is not about bashing Trump, it’s about trying to gain a better understanding of leadership, so let’s just say that he doesn’t have all of those listed above.
Yet in spite of not being what many would define as classic leadership material, he has collected the second-highest count of votes in US Presidential history. And whilst some might argue until they are blue in the face, that he is not a good leader, over 70 million Americans would disagree with you.
So what does this all of this tell us?
I believe it tells us that Leadership is not just about the qualities of the leader, but what the leader can do for their followers.
It shows us that people can become inspired and follow an imperfect person if they believe that the leader can deliver the results that they want.
It shows that having a clear and simple vision, one that resonates with your followers is more important than your personal qualities.
That being able to be empathetic and make people feel that they are listened to is highly inspirational, and possibly the most important aspect of emotional intelligence.
You don’t have to deliver on all of your promises, just deliver on the promises that matter to them.
Engagement is a contact sport, as a leader you need to get out there and meet with people, communicate with them directly.
Success matters because people want to be part of a winning team and that leaders need to communicate and share the successes, and make people feel involved in that success, that it’s actually their success too.
Now I am not advocating that you forget about all of the good qualities mentioned at the start of this article. I do believe that humility, integrity, vulnerability, accountability are great qualities and that they will go some way to making sure you bring more of the people along with you.
But it is clear that people will follow you, in spite you.
If you have a clear vision that resonates with your followers, one that they believe you deliver upon, and one they feel that they are contributing to the success of.
You also need to take responsibility for engaging your people, you have to go out and connect with them.