Responding to Trump: Count one, two, three – breathe
By Guest Columnist JEREMY C. GARLINGTON, an executive leadership consultant who resides in Atlanta
While the contents of this post are political, the intent is apolitical. What does that mean? No axes to grind, no sides left to choose. Only observations that hopefully will lead to better perspective. So others in leadership positions can consider for their own usage.
Lose the Trump obsession refers to the pile-on now going on in the political/media industrial complex.
On the Left, the new president is the Devil Incarnate, a shameful, Tweeting fool who doesn’t care about anything beyond himself.
On the Right, the new leader of the free world marches to his own drummer and won more counties and votes than any Republican candidate since Ronald Reagan.
Fake news, alternative facts and reality now fight for equal air time.
Both extremes have translated into very little so far other than protests and contested news cycles. More people than ever over-identify with national political figures and perceived causes at the expense of actually doing something purposeful to make impact in their own community, according to TGR’s own empirical data.
Eight years ago, it was a savior named Barack Hussein Obama. Now it’s the new populist leader of the silent majority, President Donald Trump. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Consider the following truth, first seen in the Denison Forum, and expounded upon here. Popular leaders reflect their times; transformational leaders change them. Sometimes, they do both as Atlanta has seen with names such as Hartsfield, Young and Jackson.
No one knows entirely what President Trump and a Republican Congress will or will not be able to accomplish. It’s a great experiment to have a never previously elected politician serve as President. Then again our country remains an experiment failing forward, which was the original design set into place by the Founding Fathers.
Based on what government has become, old Benny Franklin and Thomas Jefferson probably aren’t as shocked as rest of us seem to be.
To peer consultants who have written expert commentaries on how to respond to a Trump Tweet targeting their client’s company, please take more than 30 seconds to respond. Trump Tweets are highly successful – or at least have been so far. To fight with head on response represents a lot of risk to any corporation that was formed ironically to manage risks. Not to mention tweets have the shelf life or attention span of a baby. Just ask the Ford Motor Co., which now has a remarkably different public tone than before the winter holidays.
Maybe the best way to respond is simply to listen and not say anything publicly until a clearer resolution emerges? Better yet, wait for the next crisis to wipe the previous one aside (anyone know what’s going on with the new Air Force One planes?) That may be too commonsensical, to borrow a Bush 43 saying. The contrarian contained within says it’s time to be slow to speak and quick to listen, taking a line from James.
The current climate recalls a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote that a global practice director used to throw around as if he were Ralph himself:
- “You’re acting so loudly that I can’t hear what you’re saying.”
The exchange was ironic, considering the setting was a PR firm’s office and a discussion of communication aimed at manipulation on behalf of fee-paying clients.
Tweeter, I mean Twitter, thankfully was not in existence then. We actually had to attempt to influence each other by speaking directly and defending a position with facts and informed views. Now there’s an idea.
May we listen more this year, instant message/text less and be more adaptive at the risk of always having to be liked, happy or popular. Remember, hitting one out of three remains a Hall of Fame-worthy batting percentage in baseball.