Over the last few days, I've become immersed in the highly criticized press conference with President Trump and President Vladimir Putin. Quite frankly, it's hard not to. This is our country's leader. The one establishing how our culture is defined. Just as in any organization, whether it be a corporation or start-up, leadership is critical in cultivating a positive and successful environment. No matter what side you're on, Trump has displayed some of the poor leadership habits that plague many organizations. Below are a few of the bad leadership traits he's displayed and why you should avoid these if your goal is to inspire your people to do their best work for you.
1. Having your own agenda rather than representing your team
If there was evidence of Russia meddling with the election found by US intelligence, then honor your people. If Trump doesn't believe US intelligence, then he should privately deal with that issue directly with the US intelligence agency. As a leader, your job is to lead, not operate unilaterally. When you put your people, or team, first and nurture their needs, performance will improve, your employees will feel loyal to you, and you'll generate a sense of connection and balance.
2. Not separating personal feelings from your professional obligations
It seems Trump wants to be friends with Vladimir Putin. While there is nothing wrong with that, he could be mixing his personal feelings with professional relationships. Former US presidents have had complicated relationships with Russia and Putin represents a lot what the US does not. Trump's desire to appease him is a direct slap in the face to all the work former leaders have done to keep the relationship cordial but firm - meaning the US does not support how Putin operates. Mixing personal and professional relationships at work can backfire and it's not an effective way to operate. For example, if you're friends with someone, it's harder to fire them if they're not performing.
3. Going against the culture and values of your team
Trump's focus on wanting to be close to Russia for the sake of reducing the likelihood of nuclear war is a valid reason to be close. It does not; however, acknowledge the other aspects of Putin's shortcomings. By over-looking this aspect of Putin's behavior, Trump is in essence condoning it, which doesn't align with what the US stands for. As a leader, you have to represent the culture of your organization by embodying the values of the culture you established. A leader is always watched. If he/she isn't abiding by those values, it's almost as bad as not having a set of values at all. It's critical to reinforce your company's ethics in all your communications and actions.