Whether you're the FLOTUS, CEO of a company, or a recently promoted manager, the way you lead matters. If you're in a leadership position, the people who follow you expect certain things from you. This is why respected leaders have to work so hard to meet their audiences standards.
Last week, on her way to see one of the immigrant children detainee centers, Melania wore a jacket that said "I don't care. Do you?" Which has resulted in a huge backlash and media frenzy. One reason why is because of the political climate last week. Americans were already very emotionally disturbed by the fact that children were being separated from their parents.
No matter where you stand on the outfit Melania wore--or the Trump administrations immigration policy as a whole--there is a lot to learn here about what people expect from their leaders. If you want to be a leader people admire, learn from the two things Melania forgot to do last week.
1. Prioritize your audience.
Always be thinking about you are the people you are leading. Even if it is sometimes unfair, people scrutinize those who lead them.
Have you ever had an unorganized boss?
If you have you've probably vented about it at one time or another. It's probably annoyed you even though you might be unorganized yourself. That's because we expect people in managerial and leadership positions to be more equipped--and more organized--than us.
Amazon has become a dominant leader in the e-commerce industry. One huge reason is that they always put their customers first. They try to always have their customers in the front of the mind when making decisions.
If you want to be a good leader, you should do the same. Whenever making a decision, speech, or just going out to lunch with your co-workers, remember the standard people will hold you to. Don't use your lunch break with your peers to mock the receptionist. Don't use your time speaking in public to say things that wouldn't resonate with the people you represent.
People want to be lead by people who make them feel heard and respected. Melania's jacket didn't do that, and now she's receiving harsh criticism because of it.
2. Think before you act (or dress).
Point one and two go together. If you are always prioritizing your following, you are more likely to think before you act. Leaders are expected to make choices with precision and thoughtfulness. As we've seen from Melania's wardrobe blunder, people don't want to hear "oh I didn't mean it like that." or "oh that wasn't an intentional choice." or "It's just a jacket" from their leaders.
Can you imagine if that was Zuckerberg's reaction during the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal? If you want to be a good leader, you should take the time to contemplate before making choices--even the small ones. And if you do happen to make a mistake and do something to upset or lose trust from your audience, own it. Address it. Really think about it instead of dismissing it.
Warren Buffet said it perfectly when he stated that "it takes 20 years to build a reputation and it takes 20 minutes to ruin it."
Sometimes this means you need to feel the room. If you are in a meeting, and tempers are flaring, maybe it's not the best time to smooth things over with a joke. If you are on the way to put out an extremely sensitive political fire and you are the First Lady, don't wear your Zara jacket that explicitly says you don't care.