Five leadership lessons from Donald Trump

Love him or loathe him, Donald Trump has very famously made his millions on his own. Here's what we can learn from the most controversial US presidential candidate in history on business leadership

Placing his political machinations to the side, The Donald has decades of real estate street cred, cemented even further with him at the helm of The Apprentice TV Show stateside.

Sifting through a minefield of shock tactics, political incorrectness, and blatant disregard for equality, what can we learn from Donald Trump’s business acumen?

Set goals. Yuge goals

Since Napoleon Hill’s Think Big and Grow Rich hit the stands, the importance of goal setting has been a core tenet of business.

People who are serious about their business tend to set personal and business goals for themselves. Big goals mean greater expectations from their business idea and execution.

Even if you fall short, the premise is that you can still outdo the competition who may be stumbling along without goals.

Trump’s public announcements border on overconfidence, but the take-home message here is that he thinks big, regardless of whether he’ll make it.

That unwavering confidence may be obnoxious, but it got him into the primaries. Business leaders don’t just hope for success, they know it’s theirs.

Confidence is king

Sure, The Donald arguably comes off as arrogant and abrasive. In fact, Vanity Fair detailed accounts from numerous mental health professionals unanimously diagnosing Trump as a textbook narcissist.

This contentious issue aside, his relentless self-promotion stems from an elevated view of himself.

That confidence, that self-belief, is what sustains business leaders–even those with more humility.

Ultimately, it takes a confident person to lead. From the battlefront to daily business decisions, strong leaders push their contingents towards success.

Napoleon and Winston Churchill both had their share of negative press, but ultimately are remembered as fierce and focused leaders.

Passion trumps all

Recruiters and workplace psychologists all encourage people to take up roles that are aligned with their passion.

This “motivational fit”makes it easier for individuals to excel in their jobs and be the most productive and innovative they can be.

It’s the same in business leaders. Those who become entrepreneurs thinking it’s a glamour job en vogue will fall flat, while those who pursue their passion are the entrepreneurs we remember.

Donald Trump is clearly the latter.

His extroverted personality and relentless need to win have always aligned with his career. For example, the real estate sector in New York is a veritable investment minefield, but it’s also a challenge that stimulates Trumps’ need to build a legacy.

The Apprentice aligned with his passion for moulding new talent, and his presidential candidacy highlights his passion for the limelight and need for the ultimate endorsement to cap his career as a leader.

Whether or not he realises his vision, Trump’s passion is palpable. And this epitomises leadership.

Hone your talent-spotting skills

Being able to find and acquire talent is a key skill for business leaders.

No man is an island, and no business leader can growth their venture alone.

Surrounding yourself with skilled, driven self-starters who are loyal to you and your cause can help propel your business.

This was the entire premise of The Apprentice, whether it was scripted reality or not. Scouting talent isn’t enough to ensure business efficiency and success.

A strong leader also knows when to cull the herd, recognising incompetence, or inefficiency early on.

There may be a certain level of ruthlessness expected of business leaders, something Trump demonstrates all too well.

Know which shots to call

Decision making is a key leadership skill, and contrary to his loose cannon political persona, Trump’s business persona tends to be risk averse.

His property investments are carefully calculated, and its this strategic mindset that can help businesses lead the market.

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2016 to 2018.

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