by Steve Adubato, PhD.
Leadership is a very complex thing. It’s never black and white. It’s not for everyone and definitely not for the faint of heart. I’ve spent many years researching and writing my most recent book, “Lessons in Leadership” and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s easy to criticize someone else in a position of leadership when you’re not the one facing that same situation. So when I think about President Donald Trump’s leadership track record to date, I’m working hard to be fair and trying to imagine how difficult the job of being President really is.
I was recently talking with a colleague who manages a large number of direct reports with several supervisors in between him and those team members. Even though those supervisors are technically the managers of these approximately 80 staff members, my colleague, we will call Jim, finds himself consumed by communicating and managing information, assignments and tasks with virtually all of these people on a regular basis.
Losing it. Blowing your cool. Acting like a jerk in public. Playing the victim. Overreacting. Pouting, complaining, yelling. You get the picture. We’ve all been there. I know I have, way more often than I’d like to admit. And every time it happens, nothing good comes from it.
Letting someone go who either is not performing after continual coaching and training or has a negative attitude is not easy, but is something that must be done. I’m talking about people who do the bare minimum or won’t pitch in when the organization needs them, people who complain on a regular basis and create a negative environment by the way they conduct themselves.
In writing my book, Lessons in Leadership, I spent several years researching what it takes to be a truly great leader. I interviewed leaders of every stripe about their greatest leadership lessons and challenges. So as I look at President-Elect Trump and his leadership style, I do it with a backdrop of acknowledging he is about to take on the most challenging leadership job in the world.
One of the most important Lessons in Leadership is the need for leaders to step up and be accountable when things go wrong. No excuses, no caveats, no finger pointing. Yet, it’s so rare these days—be it in politics, business, sports, or any professional arena—to see leaders truly taking responsibility.
Like so many fans of The Godfather movies (I and II, but definitely not III), I find myself quoting Francis Ford Coppola’s cinematic masterpiece in numerous situations. In fact, I have often said many of the challenges I have faced as a leader can be looked at or put in context by scenes or quotations from The Godfather. I explore these lessons in my new book, Lessons in Leadership.