If he has learned one lesson in his four months as president, Donald Trump has certainly discovered that the scrutiny he receives as the “leader of the free world” and one of the most powerful people in the world is much greater than anything he has experienced previously. President Trump, long known for his publicity-seeking ways before he took office, has to be wishing for a few quiet days without attention. Unfortunately, that’s not in the cards for him for the foreseeable future.
It must now be painfully apparent to President Trump that running the country is very different from running his business empire. Every move he makes is examined and assessed by the press, the public, and members of the political establishment of both parties. And President Trump seems to be struggling with the questioning, criticism, and second-guessing that comes with his job.
President Trump can no longer use his famous line “You’re fired!” from his television show The Apprentice to surround himself with people who are all on the same page with him and subscribe to his agenda. Despite the firing of FBI Director James Comey, there are many people the president interacts with on a daily basis that he has no real power over. I’m sure that’s come as a bit of a surprise to him.
Consider for a moment that Donald Trump is the CEO of the U.S. government. But unlike the CEO of a company, he doesn’t get to hire many of the most powerful people who work in his “company.” There are representatives and senators who not only aren’t chosen by the president but also have vastly different views. In fact, instead of sharing the president’s mission and vision for the “company,” they are actively working against his views and putting forward their own. It’s what many of them have been elected to do. It must be a rude awakening for a man accustomed to being in charge.
You might think it’s obvious that running the country is different from running a company, but I’m not sure anyone understands what it is like to be president of the United States until they’ve done it. And Donald Trump was elected, at least in part, because the American people believed he would bring a no-nonsense business approach to a political system that frustrated them greatly.
So if I can be so bold as to give some advice to the president, here are a few things we would all benefit from in our daily life in business.
Get over yourself. Strong words, I guess, but none of us should feel like we’re above reproach. Good things happen when others question our ideas, methods, and strategies. Not everything is a personal attack. People with differing views can come together to create really good and innovative solutions. Part of the process of problem solving includes respectful disagreements. If you attack everyone who thinks differently than you or disagrees with you, progress will be hard to come by.
Communicate consistently and honestly. Way too often, inconsistent and conflicting messages are coming out of the White House. When James Comey was fired, there were many messages shared by the president’s staff and cabinet, all different, and then the president came out and contradicted them all. Somewhere in all of it was the truth. Start with that and stick with it, and things will go much better. If you and your team aren’t all on the same page about what is happening and why, you must get there. If you don’t, confusion and chaos will reign.
Stop and listen. You’re surrounded by bright people—listen to them. Let others contribute their ideas. Don’t forget that God gave you two ears and only one mouth for a reason. Like they say, use them in proportion! You can’t learn anything when you’re talking. There are people you work with every day who have ideas and experiences that are different from yours. Let them speak!
Pursue your vision. Donald Trump was elected president by the American people. Something in his message resonated with a large segment of the population. Like you, he can’t get distracted from his agenda by those who don’t subscribe to his vision. Not everyone you work with is going to share your enthusiasm for what you’re trying to achieve. Not everyone will buy into your vision. But that doesn’t mean you abandon your goals. Instead, you continually work to get others to see the overarching goal you’re trying to achieve, while focusing on leading those who are enthusiastically behind you.
Being the president of the United States is vastly different from running a company. It seems to me this is a lesson Donald Trump is learning the hard way. Hopefully, he will adapt and evolve as he learns how to successfully navigate American and world politics. If not, the frustration he feels will continue to grow, as will that of the American people. I don’t envy his position, but I also understand he put himself in it. I hope he can learn to be successful in this role because this country deserves a great leader.