Why Trump’s win holds so many important lesson for leaders

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On the 20 July, the day the Republican Party nominated their president elect, I predicted that Donald Trump would win. Here is what I wrote:

Donald Trump has a better than not chance of winning. Actually I’m going to predict that he will win. Not because he is a good leader but because he has convinced people that he is on a good quest. All his Republican adversaries promised more of the same old world, they were washed away. Trump promises to make the impossible possible and by doing so he promises to deliver meaningful benefits to the people who matter most to his campaign. In disrupting American politics Donald Trump may have started his groundswell in Middle America but he has quickly and effectively migrated upstream and now his reach and influence is far and wide.

Unfortunately my prediction has come true. At the time of writing my prediction I was hoping I would be wrong, but deep down I knew and understood well the power of a leader’s quest

To try and turn Trump’s disruptive tide I even reached out directly to Hillary Clinton asking her: What is your quest? saying:

Hillary Clinton, if you want to disrupt a disruptee, you need a big dream. If Mrs Clinton, you want to win you will need an inspirational quest, something people in America can believe in, and the “Make America Great Again” ship has already sailed. The worst thing you can do is to embark on your own quest singing a similar or the same song as Donald Trump, it will not inspire and you will lose all credibility.

Even more damaging is your current campaign vote for me “because we can’t let him win.” The BREXIT Remain campaigners lost because the best inspiration they could find was vote for Stay so Leave doesn’t win. It wasn’t inspirational, it certainly didn’t challenge the impossible. Another lesson. Facts, logic and experts can only get you so far. They may help you run a good campaign but you will not run a dominant campaign. Inspired dreams get you over the winning line first. Mrs Clinton needs to ask three important questions:

  1. How can America work better and deliver more meaningful benefits to American’s?
  2. What is the impossible we need to overcome and by doing so raise America to a higher level?
  3. What is the inspirational target destination of our quest that can become our political rallying call?

You can learn more about the power of impossible, the power of meaningfulness and the power of inspired destinations here

Sadly, Hillary Clinton beefed up and continued to centre her campaign around “vote for me and keep him out of the White House.” This was not inspirational and it did not deliver meaningfulness so the majority of people in the US didn’t listen. Hillary never articulated her quest, this is why she never captured the imagination of the US voters who mattered.

Of course there are deeper issues at play here, it’s never just as simple as a quest (the quest was the vehicle, the platform for driving change), job losses, growing inequality, globilisation and a growing distrust for the elite and the establishment are the big factors. But, after the dust has settled and the experts have poured over the results here is the take away from a historic outcome: If you are not on a quest to make the impossible possible and to deliver meaningful benefits to the people who matter most in your life and to your organisation, people will vote you irrelevant. This is the lesson for leaders from the US presidential election that has seen Donald Trump voted President and Britain vote to leave the EU.

Reflect on this historic outcome and here is food for thought

Imagination is stronger than knowledge, Myth is more powerful than history. Dreams are more powerful than facts, Hope always triumphs over experience.  ~Robert Fulghum.

Here’s what we can learn. Politics is about people. Business is about people. Too many leaders are worried about and focused on the data and facts, they fail to connect with the emotions, dreams and concerns of people. If you want to be successful in a changing world inspire people through a genuine and authentic quest to make a difference.

Perhaps Trump is authentic, his quest is genuine and the benefits are there not only for the US but for the world as well. I’m not convinced though. Quests are powerful, even in the wrong hands this may become glaringly obvious. But there is hope that in the long run things will work out for the better, we may just have to wait another eight years to find out.

The world holds its breath.


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Dean’s book ‘Quest – Competitive Advantage and the Art of Leadership in the 21st Century‘ is a must read for any quester leader. The book is available directly from TomorrowToday here, or from Amazon in both paperback or kindle. Speak to us if you’d like to order larger quantities of books for your upcoming event or team gifts.

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