May 15, 2017
Rarely does anybody ever do anything truly great by himself or herself. In fact, if you can do it alone you probably aren’t doing much.
One of the main qualities that distinguishes a great leader from a poor leader is their ability to choose the right teammates, and then develop a structure that empowers their strengths and covers their weaknesses.
Donald Trump has had great success as a leader in the marketplace but how will that translate to governing our nation? His character has been sufficiently scrutinized, so I will not venture into that aspect of his leadership ability, though character clearly matters. And though Trump has made some serious mistakes in business, (who hasn’t?), he has managed to build a multibillion dollar company that is known for excellence worldwide. He has proved that he can create sustainable growth and profitability in different financial climates and in differing cultures. Obviously, this business experience will be an important factor to his success in the White House. In fact, I believe that his lack of political experience, coupled with his successful business experience, is the very reason he won the presidency.
But the truth is, though America has an incredibly large and complex budget, the United States is not a business; it’s a nation. I learned the hard way that not everything you learn in business is relevant to the public sector, as I transitioned from 20 years from the automotive business, pioneering seven businesses and acquiring two others, into the non-profit world as the COO/CFO of a mega church with an entirely different set of complexities. And though I found my business experience relevant to the non-profit world, I also discovered the cultures to be painfully dissimilar at times. I perceive the three most challenging differences between the business and political words to be:
Businesses and governments measure success differently.
Business operates with the single primary purpose of making a profit. And although every great corporation must put customer service above profits, ultimately the value of a business is measured by its ability to create sustainable earnings.
The ultimate goal of government is somewhat subjective. The fact is, various political parties often define success differently, which makes success a moving target. In other words, unlike business, with its agreed upon ultimate goal, there are many players in the game of government who often have different ideas of what it means to win.
Businesses and governments get things done differently.
A great business structure is constructed around the ability to get a product or service to market as quickly as possible. On the other hand, American government is purposefully designed to limit power and make sure that no one person or branch of government has too much authority. Often what we call “Red Tape” is the intentional constrictions of shared power and reduced authority—one of the sole purposes of our three branches of government.
Businesses and governments communicate to the world differently.
Maybe the greatest challenge in Trump’s transition between business and politics is a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” In other words, the sheer challenge of leading people with the people you are leading, as opposed to a team of leaders leading a group of people, is a great idea but it inherently borders on impossibility, especially amongst the global community. Think about it: the public, who is empowered to effectively govern themselves, rightfully demands full disclosure…there should be no secrets. The media is commissioned as both the gatekeeper of public communication and the private security force of political scrutiny. To be clear, public corporations like Trump’s do have to deal with the media and are required to be transparent to some degree, but nothing close to the level that the political world requires.
And two things that make matters even more complex, is that the media is part of the business world where the primary agreed upon core value is making a profit (they generate most of their profits through advertising), and this same media that’s reporting the “news” has an extreme political bias.
So how can President Trump overcome these challenges to effectively lead and govern?
1. Lead with a clear vision.
Because government is not a business with the clear objective to make a profit; political leaders must lead with a clear vision. Trump can’t just react to problems, but rather he must respond with an inspiring vision that touches the hearts of the people he is leading (and leading with). For example; if you are going to build a wall across our entire southern border, don’t tell me how beautiful the wall is going to be. Instead, explain to me what our country is going to look like 20 years from now. How is the wall going to affect the way our neighborhoods feel? What is my friend’s life going to look like who lives down the street and whose parents are illegal aliens?
It’s important to understand that vision gives pain a purpose. If our country is going to endure hardship on the way to greatness, we must be able to embrace the vision.
2. Bring people together.
To make this transition from a successful businessman to a great national leader, Mr. Trump must surround himself with people who know how to build consensus with the Congress and Senate, brave impatience, and together envision America’s future. People tend to support what they help create and they love to lead in a vision they own. So the President must not develop a vision for them; instead, he must build the vision with them. P.K. Bernard said, “A man without a vision is a man without a future. A man without a future will always return to his past.” If America is going to progress, we cannot look back to our past despair. Instead we must envision our nation through the eyes of possibility and move together, as one, into our divine future.
3. Call a truce with the media.
Media bias is a difficult situation, but not impossible to overcome because media is a business and business is about the bottom line. For the most part, it seems Trump has developed a strategy to circumvent media networks by speaking directly to the public through social media, leaving the press with the task of mostly “retelling” his story. And while it might be the best strategy for the Republican’s present situation, it seems the man who wrote The Art of the Deal could negotiate a truce in his favor, especially since he has a corner on the market. After all, the presidency is argumentatively the most powerful office in the world.
Ultimately, no matter who is in office, we believers, have a responsibility before God to pray for them. I have taken this mission seriously the last seven years. I have spent a lot of time praying for President Obama, always asking God to give him wisdom and insight. I prayed often that Jesus would protect and prosper him and his family. I am and will be doing the same for our new president, as this office is more responsibility than any human can handle by themself.
May God bless America and may God bless the President of the United States!
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