Yesterday, Trump sent out a series of Tweets and held a press conference with Vladimir Putin, which resulted in a major backlash from his constituents, and members of the US government. This has caused many to wonder where his loyalty lies while catalyzing immense scrutiny over his actions as America's leader.
No matter where you stand on Trump's political agenda, yesterday's events show clear errors in leadership. These errors include supporting the Russian president's word over that of the USA intelligence agencies and disregarding public concerns surrounding the Russian interference in the 2016 US election. While the nature of being a leader means you can't always please everyone, the amount displeased by yesterday is disquieting.
How does one cross the line from being a good leader who makes tough choices, to being a bad leader who ostracizes their audience? Here are two essential leadership lessons every leader should learn from the Trump and Putin press conference in Helsinki.
1. Support your community--at the very least don't belittle them.
Whether you are leading a company or a country, you are going to be in charge of a variety of people, some with conflicting opinions to yours.
For example, Steve Jobs wasn't a programmer or an engineer. As a CEO, that didn't stop him from prioritizing those skills in employees at Apple. He was an incredible leader because he valued what each job function brought to the table.
Could you imagine the animosity a leader would create in the work environment if they disregarded designers because they didn't fully understand design? Or if you neglected coders because their work would sometimes challenge your ideas?
This isn't a productive way to lead a company, let alone a country.
The reason so many people are offended by (and suspicious about) Trump's actions yesterday is that he was so quick to throw the USA under the bus to support Russia, which was confusing as he is the leader of the United States of America.
It started off with this tweet:
Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 16, 2018
Many were confused why he would imply that the cause of tension between the US and Russia is drawn from the FBI investigating if Russia did, in fact, interfere in the 2016 US election.
This is especially puzzling because last Friday 12 Russians were charged by Special Council Robert Muller for their involvement and influence in the 2016 election. And even more so, because at the press conference that followed this tweet, Trump continued to side with Russia and pin blame on the Muller investigation. Since Trump is so tirelessly defending Russia--even though investigators are finding evidence of interference in the presidential election--people are starting to question is leadership.
This is a demonstration of poor leadership. Instead of saying "there is nothing to look into, but I respect the process of justice" Trump is bashing the US department of justice. When you are a leader you should support every part of your community, and you should never (ever) belittle them.
2. Leader's shouldn't disregard overwhelming concerns.
A major cause for the backlash against Trump is that in the press conference he held with Putin yesterday, he strongly disregarded concerns of the American public.
Part of being a good leader is addressing concerns, even if that means having to do something difficult, or not in your best interest.
For example when Uber was going through half a year of scandals that were leading to major setbacks in the company their CEO, eventually, had to address the issues at hand. Travis Kalanick did this by stepping down as CEO, which may have hurt his already tarnished reputation. Still, it was the best choice for the company.
At the conference yesterday, when asked about Russian interference in the 2016 US election, Trump was quick to support Putin's claim that there had not been any Russian interference. Which hurt Trump's credibility as a leader since US Intelligence agencies have already confirmed that cyber-attacks, fake-news stories, and chatbots have been linked to the Kremlin.
When a reporter asked Trump if he believed Putin over US intelligence in the accusations surrounding Russian interference in the 2016 election Trump said, "President Putin says it's not Russia. I don't see any reason why it would be,".
This utter dismissal of evidence from the US Department of Justice, along with concerns from US citizens, has caused an extreme questioning of Trumps quality as a leader. Leaving many to wonder why he is so quick to support the Russian president.
Whether you're leading a sports team, company or the USA, a good leader should always address major issues and concerns. Not only did Trump disregard these issues, he doubled down on supporting Russia. This was a clear sign of bad leadership. And future leaders can learn from this mistake by always putting their team, company or people first.