Trump U #2 – Searching for Lessons for US and us

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I last wrote about President Trump in light of the work of Kouzes & Posner.  I was searching for what seems to guide the “way” that he models, the values that he talks and walks.  And I wrote about what WE can learn from what he is or isn’t doing.  I’ll try to be more succinct than last time and raise 4 quick points to focus on my and your everyday leading.  (1) Kouzes’ reply to my last post.  (2) Theresa May’s statement the day after the terrorist attack on London Bridge. (3) What these mean for us in our everyday lives and (4) In our political lives as U.S. citizens (and to my international friends/readers, like commenter Phil from the UK, hopefully relevant to your lives as well).

I called my last blog to Jim Kouzes’ attention and he shared his thoughts.  His full response is copied at the bottom. For brevity here is his core response to the question about how President Trump was “modeling the way” (which I had inferred, fairly I hope, as fighting” and being for “America first.”).  Kouzes’ replied:

Remember the old saying that “If you turn around and no one is following you, you’re not leading; you’re just out for a stroll.” The practice of Model the Way is not solely about Doing What You Say You Will Do (DWYSYWD), but also Doing What We Say We Will Do (DWWSWWD)…”Set the example by aligning actions with shared values.” Emphasis here on “shared values.” That then leads to the question, “Whose shared values are we talking about?” For those who share Donald Trump’s values, they may consider him to be an exemplary leader. For those who don’t share those values, most likely the opposite would be true. One must ask, then, who is (or who should be) Donald Trump’s constituency? Is he the President of the United States, or is he just President of Those Who Agree with Donald Trump?… Before you can answer the question, “Is this person an exemplary leader?” first you must answer the question, “Who are the constituents that person is leading?” Then you must ask, “What are the shared values of that constituency?”

I want to come back to Jim’s commentary after sharing what Theresa May said, at the end of very brief remarks she made, standing before 10 Downing Street, the day after the vicious attacks at London Bridge:

[There is] far too much tolerance of extremism in our country. So we need to become far more robust in identifying it and stamping it out across the public sector and across society. That will require some difficult conversations and often embarrassing conversations. But the whole of our country needs to come together to take on this extremism.  And we need to live our lives not in a series of separated, segregated communities, but as one truly United Kingdom.  We must come together. We must pull together. And united we will take on and defeat our enemies.

Two things are striking about Prime Minister May’s statement. First, that she is emphatically speaking to, and of a vision for, all of the UK. It could be that in my left-leaning bubble I just don’t hear this inclusive message coming from President Trump. Admittedly, there are an increasing number who are set against him, so it’s not hard to see how he could feel he is in a bunker and must attack (and he is a fighter).  But attack whom?  To Kouzes’ point and with May’s example, our elected leader could surely do more to reach out to others.

Two final points: In family, office, community exemplary leaders, widen the net, generate a shared vision and shared values. That means if she’s running the firm, she doesn’t speak to the litigators over the business lawyers, the men over the women (or vice versa) the straight over gay (or cis-gendered, as the young people are teaching us, over those who are trans).  Building shared values and vision doesn’t happen by itself and doesn’t happen top-down, but authority figures have a lot of power to include and to share. I consider myself so lucky to listen to young people a lot, and I encourage my oldie-but-goodie readers to go out and actively listen to the expansiveness of these Millennials! They are real teachers of shared and sharing vision and values!

The last point concerns our political, everyday leadership.  Trump has profoundly alienated progressives. And Hillary (and judging from reader Nancy’s comment last week Obama, too) have alienated the right.  We so need shared political leadership. I hope Republicans like Senator Burr will continue to steer away from tribal partisanship and steer to the center of the law and constitution.  And I hope Democrats like Senator Feinstein will continue to ask the Comey’s or Lynch’s of the world the really hard questions that have to do with law and constitution and not partisanship and division. But it is not just politicians who have become divided and dysfunctional. Almost all of us have. We’re getting what we’ve asked for and what we deserve.

And it is SO up to us, to U.S, to everyday leaders on which democracy depends.  If we don’t learn to keep listening then we will stay tribal. We will make our neighbors feel like excluded and misunderstood and victimized “others,” just as we make Republican, Democrats or Muslims or Blacks or rich people “other.”  We can blame it on the politicians, but we’re not children and this is not – however convenient it is to complain that it is – a dictatorship or tyranny.  It’s a representative democracy that depends on us to insist on electing leaders who will listen to other points of view and for US/us to model the way of building a shared vision and shared values in stressful times. Sharing is not a one-way street, as children learn in kindergarten or pre-school. Sharing requires patience, trust, and generosity sometimes . . . to

Lead with your best self!

 

Full blog comment from Jim Kouzes, co-author of The Leadership Challenge:

When deciding whether any leader is exemplary—as you will recall, we refer to our model as The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®—one must consider who the “constituents” are, or at least who is observing and assessing the leader’s behavior. Remember the old saying that “If you turn around and no one is following you, you’re not leading; you’re just out for a stroll.” The practice of Model the Way is not solely about Doing What You Say You Will Do (DWYSYWD), but also Doing What We Say We Will Do (DWWSWWD). As we write in The Leadership Challenge, our second of the Ten Commitments of Exemplary Leadership, is “Set the example by aligning actions with shared values.” Emphasis here on “shared values.” That then leads to the question, “Whose shared values are we talking about?” For those who share Donald Trump’s values, they may consider him to be an exemplary leader. For those who don’t share those values, most likely the opposite would be true. One must ask, then, who is (or who should be) Donald Trump’s constituency? Is he the President of the United States, or is he just President of Those Who Agree with Donald Trump? This is fundamental to deciding if Donald Trump, or anyone, is an exemplary leader. Before you can answer the question, “Is this person an exemplary leader?”, first you must answer the question, “Who are the constituents that person is leading?” Then you must ask, “What are the shared values of that constituency?” Here’s something else we know: The more frequently leaders demonstrate The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership, the more engaged their constituents are and the higher performing their organizations are.

12 responses to “Trump U #2 – Searching for Lessons for US and us

  1. I agree with the message give by Ms. May. We are not monolithic but we have opinions based on our own experiences. This should be on bulletin boards around the country.

  2. A fact checking note: After May’s statement you write that she was speaking for ALL of England, (when she spoke of a United Kingdom.) All of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, would be more specific, since which England is a part of that kingdom; also in that kingdom: Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

    1. Mark John,
      You are right . . . at least for the moment. I have gone back up to the post and added Scottland, et al., back into the UK :-).
      D

  3. I just want to point out that straight is not the same as cisgender; just as gay is not the same as transgender. Straight and gay are terms related to one’s sexuality, whereas cisgender and transgender are terms related to one’s gender identity.

    For example, I am a cisgender female who is heterosexual (or straight.) I prefer the pronouns she/her. Everyone has their own sentence here pertaining to their gender and sexuality.

    1. Blaine,
      Thanks for your correction which I have made to my original post. Please let me know if I have done so correctly.
      Thanks!
      Dan

      1. I think you nearly have it, Dan. I wonder over your placement of parentheses, though. I suggest: “…or cis-gendered (as the young people are teaching us) over those who are trans.” Being trans or cis-gendered is totally unrelated to being gay or straight. As Blaine points out, gender identity and sexual preference are not related.

        And, I applaud your inclusion of the trans community.

  4. Asking Hillary Clinton or any leader to steer us away from tribalism, and not alienate either the right or left is like asking a lemming to lead his friends running for the cliff in a different direction. Large swaths of the public have been trained to think in tribal ways and to automatically act alienate by a candidate or leader who does not fit their mold. Ask psychiatrists and human behavior scientists how to correct thinking which has been molded to be biased.

    1. Dan, if you can, ask HRC what she thinks of my lemming analogy, and if she has any answers to the dilemma of tribalism.

  5. Good post Dan. Unfortunately I don’t think we are headed for shared leadership in politics anytime soon. I think our politics are reported by the media like sports scores, it’s a game with a winner & loser and the loser gets the winner’s philosophies forced upon them when in reality I don’t think the right & left are very far apart. We call ourselves a democracy but I’m not sure it is anymore, our civil liberties are being lost and replaced with someone else’s version of our reality. Our politicians don’t work for us anymore either, they think they are somehow above us. This needs to change but we the people need to force the change.

  6. Dan, As your British cousin may I partially correct Mark Hunter. It is the United Kingdom of Great Britain AND Northern Ireland. The Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England {including Wales} are the United Kingdom of Great Britain to which 6 counties of Northern Ireland were added in1921.
    The Prime Minister is Mrs Theresa May not Ms May.
    But her words against division didn’t stop the electorate from giving her a proverbial bloody nose the following Thursday!! All politicians should remember that they ignore the Voter at their peril!
    Here’s a thought for you Dan: Is a new tribalism arising over sex and gender that seems to focus on a “perceived difference” rather than any unifing bond?

  7. PHIL: Sorry for incorrect name of UK and Northern Ireland. My Hunter ancestors are from County Antrim, so I should know better.

  8. I read your article above again today. What I got out of it today was that leadership is much about values. Now I am asking myself how can a leader influence / teach / model the values of those who follow him and those who do not follow him? The big one, those who do not follow him / those who’s values are at odds with his, those who do all they can to reduce the leader; but then we get to what you have also written about, leading from below. Who is the leader, Donald Trump or those with better values? I do not at all mind writing on this site what sounds purely political, but in leadership terms, DJY is a poor leader, and there are those working to make America greater by leading from below.

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