17 November 2016

Does Donald Trump have the necessary character to be a successful President?

In the past week a number of people asked me when I was going to blog about the President-elect of America. I wasn’t sure what I would say; whether it would be relevant for readers of this weekly missive or whether I even wanted to say anything.
I was shocked as (almost) everybody else when the results rolled in last Wednesday (Australian time). I had arranged to meet up with two friends at a Fitzroy pub, fully anticipating we would be cracking a bottle of champagne, in honour of the first woman President of America being elected. Instead we watched the television, not quite knowing what to say, as the map of America was swamped with red states. I learned later that my 15 year old daughter was crying at home as the result from the other side of the Pacific became clear.
As one tweet succinctly put it:
The American people elected Hillary Clinton. The American Electoral College system elected Donald Trump.
What can recruiters take from what has happened?
I am no political or economic expert, despite being very interested in both, so I’ll stick to what I know most about: hiring practices.
President-elect Trump has now been hired. He will take up his position on 20 January 2017.
Given Mr Trump’s complete lack of public service experience, the voting public clearly didn’t think that lack of experience was a bad thing. In fact, the “I’ll drain the swamp” line seems to have been a key line from his campaign speeches that resonated with millions of voters.
As recruiters well know, a lack of experience doesn’t necessarily discount a person from a job; as long as they have the character necessary to build the skills upon.
So what character traits are required of the American President?
Not being an American or a student of American Presidents, I read about a dozen articles that came up in my online search for 'what makes a great President’. Some articles had a long list, others had a short list. I then selected the traits that were mentioned most frequently; it’s completely unscientific but in keeping with the principles I learned from the book The Wisdom of Crowds.
These five most-frequently mentioned traits were:
1. Integrity
2. Influencing/connectedness/persuasiveness
3. Calmness
4. Intelligence
5. Judgement and decision making
How does Mr Trump rate on each of these traits on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being low, 5 being high)?
Integrity (1/5): Mr Trump has a seemingly endless list of 'integrity' issues, to put it politely. He seems to take pleasure in treating women as objects to do with as he pleases. His attitude towards underage girls is especially vile, from any person, let alone a President.
Influencing/connectedness/persuasiveness (4/5): Mr Trump convinced nearly 61 million Americans to vote for him despite his many, many campaign hiccups. Whether he can be just as persuasive with his fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill remains to be seen.
Calmness (2/5): The first couple of Presidential debates showed Mr Trump was not naturally a calm man. It didn’t take much to get him worked up, unlike Hillary Clinton who showed herself to be a much calmer person under the spotlight of a Presidential debate. A man who believes that tearing up the NATO alliance and leaving allies to fend for themselves is a good thing for the USA, could not easily be mistaken for a calm person.
Intelligence (3/5): Mr Trump’s IQ or academic results have never been released publicly but as this article estimates, it’s reasonable to say Mr Trump is of above-average intelligence but a long way short of the 156 IQ score of Bill Clinton. If I was an American, I would hope my President had substantially above average intelligence as it’s, to state the obvious, an above average job.
Judgement and decision making (1/5): For a man whose transition team includes his daughter, a proposed Secretary of Education and Vice-President-elect who both believe the Earth is less than 6,000 years old as well as his own pronouncements such as 'Putin is a stronger leader than Barack Obama” or “China is a currency manipulator” or “Climate change is a hoax”, it appears Mr Trump does not value, or use, facts or objective information in a way most world leaders do.
Despite the many question marks surrounding Mr Trump’s suitability to be leader of the free world, he will assume that role in nine weeks’ time.
His success is critical for both the United States and the rest of the world. I certainly hope he rises above his obvious character flaws and surprises me and a vast majority of still-shocked people around the globe.

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  1. I'm not sure she would have rated much better on those criteria. From a recruitment process - the whole thing FAILED miserably. Seriously if you ended up with those two as the final shortlist, you'd be firing the agency :) it is more about the global western disconnect of 'politicians' and the uprising from the public. Hilary is a career politician and therefore was going to find it tough - they just don't get it.

  2. Well, it's clear Hillary would rate higher than Trump. But the electorate made it clear they weren't voting for Trump on character grounds - they connected with his rhetoric. Also a woman's flaws, in public life, are always magnified and marked more harshly than a man's flaws. Hillary v Bill is a clear example.