Leadership: It’s about the people, stupid
48 hours ago, we entered through the gates of hell. A narcissistic Apollyon was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. America wept.
In that time span, Trump has mocked protesters, preened over his own fictitious ratings, and referred to his opposition as “the enemy.” All while showing no sign that he plans to pivot to a more professional and dignified style of leadership. An ominous start for a president with a 38% approval rating at the start of his term, one of the lowest in modern times.
Do you remember his tirade last week against Rep. John Lewis for calling him an “illegitimate president?” Setting aside the question of foreign influence in the election, I want to focus on his legitimacy as a leader.
Now I am not the foremost authority on leadership, but as a Naval officer, I have learned my share of leadership lessons. Leadership is a social construct. It does not exist in a vacuum. You cannot be a leader without having people to lead. And you cannot demand leadership. Leadership, like respect, is earned. Followers must align with a leader’s vision and principles, and agree to let you lead them. Unlike management, where the goal is efficient execution of process, leadership is about people – other people, not yourself.
Jack Welch, former Chairman and CEO of General Electric, said it best.
“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”
If you can’t get people behind you, you’re not leading anything. You’re just a dude beating your own drum, lost in your own delusions. Trump has tried to sell us a vision that 73% of the country rejected. Let that sink in. 169 million of 231 million eligible voters did not buy into his platform. In an election where only 27% of eligible voters actually voted for him, it’s safe to say Donnie the Drummer Boy is living the grand delusion.
“You don’t lead by hitting people over the head—that’s assault, not leadership.” – Dwight Eisenhower
And yet, this is Donald’s comfort zone. His antagonizing communication style is meant to beat us into submission. Guess what? That may work fine in North Korea or Russia. But it won’t work here. He may constitutionally be the President (and even that’s debatable). But he is not the leader of the majority of the American electorate. And the people will push back. Yesterday was a warning shot. We are just beginning.
So, what now?
There are three things we need to focus on:
First, remember that while the president is a lousy excuse for a leader, we have several fine leaders in our midst that are opposed to Trump’s dystopian world. These are the same leaders that mobilized thousands to call their legislators on January 3rd to oppose dissolution of the Office of Congressional Ethics. Follow these people, listen to what they have to say, and share their message. A few people of note that you must follow on Twitter include Rick Smith (@RickSmithShow), David Yankovich (@DavidYankovich), Sherry Frost (@frostnhstaterep), and Elliott Lusztig (@ezlusztig).
Second, get intimately familiar with your three legislators – your two Senators and one Representative. Find out when they have office hours or town halls. Go. Ask questions. Demand that they lead us out of this morass. Remember, when you make your voice known – again and again and again – you’re going to plant that seed in that legislator’s mind. Before they sign something, they’re going to remember you and think about how they’re going to answer your inevitable question at their next town hall.
Finally, support and demand good journalism. Like never before, the Fourth Estate will be crucial in exposing Trump’s gaslighting techniques and outright lies. I’ve written about the Fourth Estate, and how it effectively functions as a check on the other three branches of government. Mainstream Media is going to become a key ally in exposing the con behind the Trump machine. Watch the news, share it, tweet it, retweet it – get the news out. Don’t allow Team Trump to control the narrative.
These are scary times for all of us. Thanks in part to a small fraction of all Americans, an exceptionally dangerous lunatic now occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It is now up to the rest of us – the sane and rational patriotic Americans – to put up an effective front to save our country from the irreparable damage he will cause. This is not an option. We cannot sit back and let this happen. Fighting to preserve our liberties, and our nation, through resistance to tyranny is a necessary and just cause. It is our duty.