An example confusing people trying to understand Donald Trump: the picture above shows him speaking on Pearl Harbor Day, yet he "dodged Vietnam War through medical deferment, not high draft number as he claimed." He's belligerent and hawkish yet has a "history as dove."

Still he gains support, defeating another opponent, Marco Rubio, for good in his home state.

Mainstream media and political analysts have trouble understanding his popularity. Listening to what he says and conclude "Donald Trump is an enigma. While many of us may not understand his decisions, we assume he has at least thought them through."

Love him or hate him, any leader would love his ability to create a following. I believe his popularity is easier to emulate that you'd think, whether you like his views or not.

Nearly every analysis I've seen considers what he says. All his vacillations tell them he should lose popularity but he doesn't. How he says it matters more.

I'll preface everything below by saying that he has over the threshold of knowledge of current events, intelligence, business success, and other things needed to run, but those things don't explain his support.

What Does Trump Do That Works?

What he says is about logic. Leadership involves logic, but rarely is it the most important element. Trying to convince people with logic provokes debate, defense, and digging in heels--the opposite of leadership.

To understand his appeal, for a moment listen to him without considering your views, history, or any other consideration except his views when he's speaking--not even his views on the subject at another time.

I suggest that at the moment he says anything, he believes it.

In other words, he says it genuinely and authentically. Detractors say he's wrong, that his ideas will hurt the country, or other criticisms, focusing on logic distracts them from seeing what leads people to support him.

We love genuineness and authenticity. We, as humans, want leader who, when times get tough, we know what they will do.

Genuineness and authenticity make us feel like someone will be predictable in crisis. Notice I didn't say Trump would be predictable in a crisis. I said he makes people feel like he would, because when he says anything he says, he means it.

How many political figures in living history can you think of who projected genuineness and authenticity? By contrast, how many projected doing what polls suggested or would help their backers?

I'm no political historian, but they seem overwhelmingly to follow polls and their backers, not their hearts.

What Genuineness and Authenticity Create

We so crave and so miss these characteristics from our politicians that huge numbers of Americans support him without caring about the content of what he says.

Anyone who dismisses these deeply important characteristics we look for in relationships will remain confused. Politicians don't know how to respond and analysts don't understand.

You Can Do What He Does, Even If You Disagree With Him

How can you speak more genuinely and authentically?

In my classes on leadership, I give people exercises that develop these skills. Anyone who wants to and puts in the work can.

First, be aware that logic is one element of what you communicate. Other things matter, often more. People knew this since Aristotle and before, but people keep forgetting.

Second, find people who communicate openly and emulate them. Don't let disagreements with what they say distract you from learning from them.

My top historical figures you can find videos of are Muhammad Ali, Robin Williams, Oprah Winfrey, and Charles Barkley. Many others exist, of course.

 

In my courses, before doing the exercises, they see Muhammad Ali's poetic speech as qualitatively beyond what they think they can do. After practicing, they see his speech as quantitatively different. They know they have to practice, but also that they only have to practice.

Next, then, recognize that even the most skilled took years to develop. Everyone fears saying something they'll regret and feeling vulnerable.

The potential shame, embarrassment, humiliation, and other emotions we don't like feeling keep us quiet. Yet everyone great at speaking with genuineness and authenticity made mistakes and felt those things.

Finally, with this perspective, practice. Rehearse. Know you'll regret things you said later and that you'll feel shame, get laughed at, and such.

But practice is the only way to reach the freedom to communicate openly that turns people from listeners into followers. In the process you'll learn and grow.

The alternative is to abdicate your ability in what works, leaving you only with logic, which often works against you.