Just a few words. Trump responded to something like he always does. The media responded like it always does. But something got overlooked in the kerfluffle. Trump provided some crystal clear evidence regarding himself.
Let’s take a look at that, and finally put to bed questions of Trump’s competence.
No, I don’t mean mental competence. I mean competence as a leader and an executive. You do realize that’s his job right now? Executive office. Making executive decisions. Leader of the GOP. Leader of the government. Leader of the country.
It was his job before too. Executive of his companies. Leader of his businesses. Top dog. A lot of folks asserted that he was good at it. During the election, many folks said, “So what if he has no political experience and, thus, no idea what the job for which he is running actually entails? Doesn’t matter. He’s a successful businessman. A great businessman. Look at all the money he’s made as a businessman. So that mean’s he got what it takes to run this country.” You know. As a leader and an executive.
I’ve often said that a government serves a different purpose than a business, and thus a government cannot be run as a business. But let’s set that aside for a moment.
A lot of folks have said Trump really doesn’t have a good business track record. But let’s set that aside too.
Let’s instead think about what makes a good leader and executive of a company. The people handling skills. The situational management skills. The deft steering of the business through rough weather, as well as calm. Inspiring confidence, not just in employees, but in investors and the public. Projecting an image of the business’ competence, while keeping under wraps any of its weaknesses, until they can be corrected.
Keep that all in mind, while we play “let’s pretend.”
Let’s pretend that the heads of a corporation’s marketing department and market research division had to participate in an annual state-of-the-company meeting that was open to the press. For the sake of argument, let’s say that those folks blew it in some way. They got something wrong in their presentation, and it got caught on camera. Something.
What response should a good leader and a good business executive make to that? Should he, or she, take those folks aside, not in public, and deal with them, perhaps carefully steering them to correcting their work? And at the same time, issue some public statement to cover over whatever weaknesses or faults within the company that the botched presentation revealed, making it clear that the company is not vulnerable? Wouldn’t he try to undo the damage in some way by acting to inspire confidence in the company?
What responses wouldn’t a good leader or executive do in such a circumstance? He certainly would not dress down his employees and air dirty company laundry in front of investors or the public, right? He wouldn’t suggest to the public and to investors that the company really wasn’t paying attention to the markets for their products, would he? He wouldn’t address the problems within the company publicly, so that any competitor could know the company’s vulnerabilities, and act upon it, right?
That’s not what a good business executive would do. That’s not what a good leader would do.
We all know this. We’ve all learned this. You don’t dress down your co-worker in public; you do it in private, where folks can’t take advantage of the situation, and where there is a chance to correct things. When a manager does that kind of thing in public, in front of other employees, or even in front of customers, that is considered bad leadership. Bad management skills. Just plain incompetence.
TWO TWEETS TELL THE TALE
Yet that’s what happened this week. This week, the heads of the U.S. intelligence agencies testified before Congress and in front of cameras. The media gleefully reported that those heads disagreed with Trump’s statements on things like the defeat of ISIS, Iran’s compliance with the nuclear weapons deal, and North Korea’s intentions regarding its nuclear weapons programs.
The following day, the President of the United States was scheduled to have his own private meeting with those heads. Before that meeting though, he took to Twitter.
Set aside whether the intelligence chiefs were correct. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, they botched the job. Just pretend that.
Rather than address matters privately or try to spin things positively, the president instead just had to give those chiefs a public dressing down for daring to disagree with hm. In the process, he announced to the world that the U.S. was unprotected on the intelligence front.
“The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong!”
“Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!”
The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong! When I became President Iran was making trouble all over the Middle East, and beyond. Since ending the terrible Iran Nuclear Deal, they are MUCH different, but….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 30, 2019
….a source of potential danger and conflict. They are testing Rockets (last week) and more, and are coming very close to the edge. There economy is now crashing, which is the only thing holding them back. Be careful of Iran. Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 30, 2019
That may not rise to the level of outright treachery. But that is pretty unpatriotic, near treasonous stuff he just did. He said, “Hey, world. U.S. intelligence is lazy, starry-eyed, and incompetent. Have at it.” It doesn’t matter that he did not mean it that way. Look at as if it was a business. What competitor to that business wouldn’t look at those words as an invitation to go after the business at its weak points?
It doesn’t matter that (fortunately) most countries won’t believe Trump when he says things like this. Because not only did he advertise weaknesses to competitors by making things public, he also demoralized government employees with his attitude and undermined the citizens’ confidence one way or another. Members of the public who hang on Trump’s every word have their confidence in our passive and naïve intelligence agencies undermined. Members of the public who don’t trust Trump lose even more confidence in the decision making by our government, as Trump yet again choses to discount our intelligence gathering community.
Think back to what makes a good leader or a good business executive. Management skills 101. Take them aside. Not in public. Create confidence; don’t undermine it. Trump did the exact opposite of all of that.
Just a few words. But they settle the question. By failing at basic management skills, Trump proved pretty definitely that he has no competence as an executive or a leader. Either in business or politics. Time to stop talking about him like he does. For good. Enough is enough.