Don’t be like Donald, it doesn’t work
Why copying Mr Trump kills innovation.
The US presidential campaign has catapulted Donald Trump to global significance. The world now holds its breath to see if he can win the Republican nomination.
Whatever happens, one thing’s for sure.
Trump has become the undisputed poster boy for directive leadership. “Follow me, without question, and I will crush your enemies” is the key message. Donald needs you to believe he knows where he’s going.
If Trump’s style feels like a throw-back to another era, it’s because it is. My 10-step model for business creativity in The Spark, based on insights from the world’s most innovative organisations, shows his approach is old-fashioned and unfit for purpose.
Nobody knows it all
The business world is changing at dizzying speed. To win, you have to be more nimble than the competition. Innovation requires that you engage the innate creativity of staff. This is where Trump’s know-it-all leadership style fails miserably.
In a world of accelerating change nobody knows it all. The days when the leader came up with all the ideas and then handed them down on tablets of stone is ancient history. If your people are waiting for you to come up with the solution, I guarantee innovation will grind to a halt. Directive leadership might gain some traction in a carrot-and-stick world of external motivation – but it doesn’t inspire people’s inner motivation where new ideas happen.
Innovative leaders facilitate a culture and process in which other people are heard and supported. Ed Catmull, the CEO of the animation studio Pixar, talks of a “town hall” culture in which anyone feels secure enough to raise their hand and challenge the status quo.
Being an innovative leader is:
Not about telling, it’s about listening.
Not about ordering, but enabling.
Not about “me”, but about “you”.
Trump’s style might work in the fiefdom of his self-aggrandizing business. It might sadly even win through in America’s febrile political mood. But transplanted into a modern global business it’s a liability.
If you want to win in the modern business world, don’t be like Donald.
Not just because he’s a ludicrous bully. Don’t do it because it doesn’t work.
If you like this try my book ‘The Spark: How to Ignite and Lead Business Creativity’ (FT Publishing) available on Amazon.
Copyright © 2016 Greg Orme All Rights Reserved
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