HOW TO BE A LEADER (TRUMP CASE STUDY)
Every guy dreams about becoming a leader.
It’s in our DNA.
We love the thought of people following us, supporting us, admiring us.
We love to imagine standing for something against a mighty, oppressive force and conquering it.
We love the idea of being our own man, bowing to no one.
Yet most of us do not act on these visions. Not because we are not capable, but because we lack the will.
This is not something to be ashamed of.
Being a leader is tough.
You have to be disciplined. You can’t indulge in bad habits. There are a lot of responsibilities and risk. If you become a leader, you will have a target – figuratively and sometimes even literally – on your back. You will have to handle a lot of pressure and stress.
That is a question only you can answer.
While being a leader is undoubtably trying, it is also incredibly rewarding.
Of course, leaders have the best options in the dating pool. Girls love (and trust) men who are able to calmly and deliberately take on the world; indeed, they fantasize over them.
But high-quality women are just one of the many side-perks for leaders. Leaders live their lives to the fullest, and exert every ounce of their being into making an impact. They may occasionally doubt themselves but it is clear they are leaving their mark on the world.
Leaders are the creators of history.
So how do you become one?
First, understand there are many different types of leaders. Every person has their own leadership style.
Yet a few traits stand out as universal. And the greater the leader, the more they will be apparent.
“How To Be A Leader” Trait #1: Leaders Are Masculine Fighters
Most people care too much about what other people think of them and are afraid of rejection. They prefer to be quiet and not rock the boat.
Leaders don’t. Or at the very least, leaders don’t let their feelings of insecurity control them and they push on anyway.
Leaders have to stand for something, which by definition means conflict with others is inevitable. The more they can handle this the better.
Take for instance one of my favorite guinea pigs:
Donald Trump has confused many this current election cycle in the United States. The establishment and the media are convinced that Trump is just a blowhard ego-maniac reality TV star who says outrageous, disrespectful things, and can’t possibly have any staying power. Because during debates and speeches he often sounds simplistic or even incoherent, pundits routinely state that he lost them, and his doom is imminent.
Yet despite all of these prognostications, Trump has lead the Republican Primary consistently since the summer. His speeches are packed. Every debate he has been in voters have said he has won. How is this possible? What on earth is his appeal?
It is simple. Indeed, it is so simple that the analytical class almost completely overlooks it.
Trump projects an incredible amount of strength and presence wherever he goes.
In other words, voters aren’t listening to the content of Trump’s words as much as his conviction in saying them. His confidence more than overcompensates for his (perceived at least) lack of competence. They are enamored by the fact that when people try to shame him he refuses to pander or apologize. They like the fact that he is a fighter and sends a message to his opponents that he is not somebody to be messed with.
Trump’s boastful tone may be unnecessary and counterproductive (more on this later), but his defiance and boldness make him in the eyes of many without question the strongest leader.
Defiant and bold people make supporters feel confident knowing that whatever happens they will protect and fight for them, and let rivals know they will never give up opposing them. It is a powerful way to be a leader.
People have always gravitated towards strong leaders – particularly during wartime – because strong leaders are more likely to win in a fight. Churchill was in the political wilderness before Hitler came to power, but was the unanimous choice of both parties to lead the United Kingdom when war broke out. The people felt like his prescience about the fascist threat and uncompromising attitude towards fighting against it would inspire Britain to struggle on for its survival.
Many people see the same strength in Trump, and that is why they follow him.
Mike Cernovich (author of the blog Danger & Play, a highly recommended site) was the first to bring to my attention the real power of Trump’s masculinity when it comes to winning elections. But while Mike is on point that masculinity is incredibly important to voters (particularly on a subconscious level), I part ways with him on it’s determinative impact.
A few years ago, Trump was supported by pretty much nobody. Trump may have been his own man, people may have seen he was a fighter, but not too many people had any interest in following or supporting him.
Not Trump, but the times, and notably Trump’s message.
“How To Be A Leader” Trait #2: Leaders Speak The Truth Of Their Followers
Many people are strong and masculine. But they are not leaders – or at least – not leaders outside of their limited social circle.
What differentiates a strong, masculine man from a leader is not his traits, but his cause.
To be a leader you need a movement. If you are not fighting for something, you are fighting for yourself, and nobody follows a man who fights for himself. Force of personality will attract people to you, but it is the cause that keeps them. If you want to be a leader, a cause is essential.
Some of you may remember when Trump first burst onto the political scene in 2012, he spent nearly all of his time questioning the validity of Obama’s birth certificate. This was crazy. With the exception of some far-right conspiracy theorists, nobody believed that Obama was actually not a US Citizen.
Trump may have been strong and masculine, but what was he fighting for? His cause was distasteful and generated no broad appeal. He was no leader (or only a leader of some tiny fringe), and did not look like he would be a leader later on.
Now, however, both the popular mood and Trump’s positions have changed. Immigration is a major issue to much if not most of the population, particularly the Republican Party, yet to many in the “base,” the Republican Party itself has not done an adequate job addressing the issue. Indeed, many do not even believe it is on their side.
Consequently, when Trump speaks (particularly about immigration and trade), he is no longer speaking to a fringe about a pet issue, he is speaking for large swaths of the population that feel silenced – not only by the media, not only by their opponents, but by their very own party. To these people at least, he certainly knows how to be a leader.
This, more than anything else – including masculinity – is responsible for Trump’s rise.
Now, Trump is not only speaking his truth, he is speaking the truth of a mass of people whose voices aren’t being heard.
These days Trump says exactly what people think but are too afraid to say. And he says it boldly, without apologies.
This alone has been enough to make Trump a relevant contender this election season.
But what explains his staying power?
The media has claimed repeatedly that Trump is a racist, sexist, bigot whose policies are vague and don’t make any sense. Normally this would kill a candidate. Yet people are not jumping off of his bandwagon; indeed, when the media does this, Trump’s ratings not only don’t fall, they rise.
This has surprised many people, but if you’ve been paying attention to the mood in this country, in fact it was totally predictable.
“How To Be A Leader” Trait #3: Leaders Are Credible and Trustworthy
Do you want to know how you make a rude, loudmouth reality TV show host popular among the masses?
Create an untrustworthy, biased reputation for yourself and then attack him for saying the same thing they’re thinking.
Trump had mild support in the party coming into the race. But the second the media and the establishment started going after him, that support skyrocketed.
There’s a powerful lesson in this:
If you don’t have credibility, it’s better to shut up than talk, because talking only makes people come to the opposite conclusion you’re proposing.
The media has spent the past couple of years squandering trust it took decades to build up.
It was a big mistake, and it will be fatal for the industry as we currently know it.
People no longer believe what they read – nor should they. The media has lied about too many things too consistently; it has described situations that don’t line up with people’s reality too frequently.
It has become shallow and useless, even unhelpful.
It’s only a matter of time before people completely take their eyeballs elsewhere. The demand is there, and alternative sources of supply are developing and growing rapidly.
How did this happen?
The media abused it’s ability to shape public opinion. The media was like a leader; the population its followers. Indeed, people trusted the media to be a leader in informing the public, to investigate stories, and – even if they had a bias – to give them whole picture and tell it like it is.
But by and large, the media has stopped doing that. It no longer knows how to be leader on socially important topics. It stopped investing in critical, deep journalism – it stopped fact-finding – and instead started searching for low-hanging fruit “stories” that would create outrage and generate clicks. It prioritized attention, not insight.
It started reporting without doing proper research in hopes it wouldn’t miss out on what was trending.
It started leaving out relevant information for fear of it affecting their popularity or changing their narrative.
It started blurring the lines between content and editorials.
It lost trust.
It lost value.
It lost credibility.
Although, Trump already had a lot of credibility among the population for being a massive success – his name is synonymous with luxury and extravagance – until the media and the establishment stepped in, Trump had if anything negative credibility with the population when it came to politics. A reality TV star famous for boorish, bombastic statements, he seemed anything BUT presidential. No way he could be a leader of the free world, right?
It was only, ironically, by trashing his widely held views and attacking him for defying political correctness (a movement almost everybody loathes) that the media and establishment planted the seed that Trump might be credible, at least to conservatives. After all, an enemy of an enemy is a friend.
This is not to say that this made Trump a universally credible candidate. Trump’s credibility right now remains very mixed. To many, he is still just an entertainer completely uninformed on the issues. Indeed, when he talks at speeches and debates and seems unaware of relevant groups or issues, this dampens his credibility to many. Others, however, see his history as a shrewd businessman and negotiator as the only relevant traits. They trust his reputation to get a grasp of the issues and surround himself with the best people when in office. They think he can be a leader, and that he will be a good one.
Time will tell what happens. Trump still has time to convey his policy credentials, but at a certain point an inability to speak clearly about issues will affect his credibility with people who are on the fence. Strength and fighting for a popular cause are necessary traits in a leader, but they are not sufficient without credibility, especially to those who may not feel as passionately about the issues as him.
“How To Be A Leader” Trait #4: Leaders Are Selfless and Modest (Trump’s Big Weakness)
One can argue easily Trump possesses two, and perhaps even all three of the first traits. Yet despite all of that, Trump incontrovertibly lacks one of the greatest elements of a leader (especially a democratic leader): modesty.
The plain truth is Trump is a braggart. Trump is so obsessed with his own self-worth and value that if the political climate was more benign and his aims did not currently align with so much of the population he would never have a chance of winning the election. He does not seem to have an intuitive grasp that to be a leader you must not make your followers feel small.
People like that Trump is a fighter. People love that Trump is fighting for their cause. People even like that Trump is so successful; it helps them to accept and trust that Trump will get things done in spite of his gaffes.
But Trump’s narcissism is an incredible turn-off to most people. Nobody wants to expand the ego of someone who is only about himself by voting for him and making him the face of their nation.
This is a big blindspot for Trump, and if not checked could become his undoing.
The best leaders inspire not only greatness in their men; they inspire devotion. They promote their people and downplay themselves. If a mistake occurs, they accept blame. Ask any soldier: the best officers are the ones that are the first in and the last out; who put their men first, not themselves.
Whether or not this is true of Trump – and it may not be, as he has a strong reputation for loyalty – this is how his demeanor makes him come across. When Trump viciously attacks people who dispute his predominance, he leaves a deep impression of not only of a guy with an insecure ego, but of one who expects others to serve and indeed obey him rather than the other way around. Rather than look inward when things don’t go his way and adjust, Trump denigrates others – including potential supporters and allies – when they don’t follow him blindly.
Popular leaders realize they are the servants of their followers; they do not blame or act condescending towards them.
Incidentally, this is one of the reasons why in the Republican Primary, Ben Carson has become so competitive with Trump, even though Carson is vastly less strong of a leader than Trump. Most of the people who support Carson over Trump do so because Trump’s arrogance makes him incredibly unlikeable, even if they are in awe of his strength. While they admire Trump’s “no compromises” attitude to their cause, his inability to apologize or take responsibility for any of his own personal failures makes him come across as incredibly condescending.
To be sure, there is nothing wrong with a little bit of ego and cocksureness as a leader. Indeed, Trump’s personality and reputation means he can get away with a lot – people expect it and even love most of it. But his personality still remains out of balance, and depending on the competition and political climate in 2016, it might stop him from crossing the finish line. It doesn’t matter how successful or competent you are, people hate being talked down to. A little modesty goes a long way.
Trump may or may not become President, and the thought of that may or may not terrify you. That’s fine. Trump is simply my case study: he is timely and attracts a lot of clicks. I drifted into political analysis for fun, but my bigger point is not politics rather what it takes to be a leader.
Understand, different times call for different leaders. People tend to prefer strength to modesty in times of trouble, and modesty to strength in times of peace. Different people also prefer different types of leaders; we all have our own preferences. Yet there is no doubt: the more these traits are found in someone, the better. There is nothing so awe-inspiring as someone whose record and accomplishments speak for itself; whose strength is so apparent he need not be aggressive; who is willing to fight for your cause.
These traits are universal regardless of what you seek to become a leader of in life. Just understand: the more collaborative the field, the more important modesty is than strength; the more competitive, the more important strength is than modesty.
If you want to be a scientist, of course you need to know the frontier you want to explore, you need to have credibility, but alienating your colleagues by being arrogant and combative is likely to make your life very difficult. The same goes for another (usually) collaborative field: sports.
On the other hand, if you’re a businessman, while you need to be good at what you do and have a business or product vision to promote, when push comes to shove, you’re going to want to be an asshole and win the market share or get the best deal rather than to be liked and lose money. In business, it’s better to be feared than loved.
So although each is important, what you emphasize depends on what you do. And what do you want to do? What do you want to be a leader in?
The answer to that question of course lies in what you are passionate about.
Not only because your passion is the only thing that will get you up excited every morning, but because if you are not passionate about something, you will never be able to withstand the adversity that leaders are forced to endure to bring their cause to fruition.
But if you care enough about something? Trust me, you may be surprised how much you have what it takes. You can always be a leader; leadership is always within your grasp. You just have to seize it.
And if you want help with that? If you want to learn how to not only lead men, but women?