Four Leadership Principles Donald Trump Executed Effectively

Donald Trump

Four Leadership principles president-elect Donald Trump executed effectively

There have been countless posts about how surprising Trump’s win was. Most of the media got it wrong. Instead of the media’s darling, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump is heading to the White House. Frankly, I did not see it coming either. Whether or not we like this, it is going to become fact on January 20th, 2017. Mr. Donald Trump will rule as the 45th President of the United States.

As the author of the upcoming book, First-Class Leadership, I have taken a close look at the leadership principles Donald Trump effectively executed throughout his journey to the White House.


Prior to delving deeper into the content, I would like to state that I believe there are no leaders who score 100% on the principles of First-Class Leadership as I have defined them in my book. When we take high-ranked political leaders such as Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, John F. Kennedy, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mahatma Gandhi, Bill Clinton, Angela Merkel, Barrack Obama, and Helmut Kohl as examples, we see that not all of them score the same or even in the same range. Several of them are closer to 100% while others are closer to 70%. Each of these leaders have their own unique qualities which have helped them make breakthroughs. The same applies to high-ranked business leaders such as Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Jack Ma, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey, and Tony Robbins.

We are yet to see what kind of leader Donald Trump will be as president of the United Sates. Will Donald Trump be able to keep his head high during and after his presidency? Only time will tell. However, Mr. Trump has effectively executed four leadership principles which ultimately helped him make his breakthrough. Here are the four principles of Trump’s leadership as I see them:

  1. Have a clear vision, believe 100% in your mission

Donald Trump started his journey to the White House with a clear vision, at least for himself and his circle of loyal followers, of how he saw the world and the US. He believed 100% in his mission; the presidency. When we genuinely believe in our mission we go for it 100%. We give whatever we have and we maximise our potential. Take Jack Ma for example. In an interview with Bloomberg he said, “So many people I talked to at that time about Alipay, they said, ‘This is the stupidest idea you’ve ever had’”. But Jack Ma believed in what he was doing and look where he and his empire, the Alibaba Group, are now.

There are many other examples of people who have been able to write history. One of the fundamental success factors of all of them was the fact that they fully believed in and remained committed to their mission. With a bit of exaggeration, we may be able to claim that most of the world media was anti-Trump. Also, there were not many governments in power who supported Donald Trump. Mr. Trump believed so much in his mission that the criticism heaped on him, his campaign, his speeches and his past did not affect him. He persevered with his goal to win the election. And he made it home!

  1. Understand and give your followers what they want and need

Zig Ziglar said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” This is what Donald Trump successfully did. Even though we could not know if Donald Trump would be able to deliver the promises made during his campaign, he knew where to focus. Presidential elections are all about making promises. Delivery will follow afterwards as it does when futurecasting a promising product. Trump connected emotionally with the people who were fed up with the political establishment of both major political parties, the Democrats and the Republicans. Donald Trump spoke the language of people on the street who are primarily concerned about their jobs, their safety and their income. He brought politics down to the lowest intellectual level that everybody could understand. Trump was calling on their American pride (emotions) by strategically choosing “Make America Great Again”. During his campaign he focused on jobs and national security instead of climate change which seems far away and is hard for the majority to digest. Take some of his opinions and quotes during his campaign:

  • Our jobs are fleeing to Mexico; China uses us as a piggy bank. (Sep 2016)
  • Make economy dynamic; bring back jobs from China & Mexico. (Oct 2015)
  • Grow the economy at 6% annually by ending inversions. (Oct 2015)
  • Cut defense budget, & entire EPA & Department of Education. (Oct 2015)
  • Reducing taxes from 35% to 15% will be a job creator. (Sep 2016)
  • Focus on disease & clean water, not “climate change”. (Oct 2016)
  • US cannot afford to be the world’s police; let NATO allies pay. (Sep 2016)
  • I could negotiate a deal with Israel and the Palestinians. (Feb 2016)
  • Russia wants to defeat ISIS as badly as we do; work together. (Sep 2016)
  • Renegotiate NAFTA; they charge us 16%; we charge nothing. (Sep 2016)
  • Reject the elite election system; infuse popular will. (Apr 2016)
  • We have some bad hombres here; I’ll get them out. (Oct 2016)
  • Make America great again. (Feb 2016)
  • How do people make it on $7.25? Raise state minimum wage. (May 2016)
  • I will save Social Security with more jobs, less waste. (Feb 2016)
  • I’m gonna cut taxes and regulations big league. (Sep 2016)

Donald Trump understood which key words to choose and capitalize on. He promised to give Americans what they need. In return, Americans made him their 45th president.

  1. Create clarity in communication, make emotional connection

It has been said that there is nothing more important than clarity when it comes to performance. When we are clear in what we say, we connect with people. When connection is made, we transform our message to a feeling. The feeling is either pleasant (love) or unpleasant (hate). There is not much in between. Donald Trump sent clear messages whenever he had the chance to speak to his followers. Whenever he said something, he was crystal clear. He said whatever he wanted to without filtering it. By carefully choosing the right simplified words, he communicated easily with Americans.

Whatever you call it, Trump chose to speak a clear language and created an image of how people’s lives would look if he became their president. We understand figures and pictures much better than math and intelligent calculations. Trump’s speeches were much easier to transform to pictures than those of his rival, Clinton. Trump’s messages got through to millions of people (from political elites to people on the street). Unlike the politically correct messages of Hillary Clinton, who wanted to encompass everybody, Donald Trump chose to speak clear language almost all the time. He chose to be the darling of a part of the population instead of sending vague messages to attract everyone. It’s called, “choose your battles.” Regardless of whether we like it or not, this is the best way to know if people like you and your product (policy). Those who chose to vote for you, love you. And those who do not vote for you probably hate you. When you are clear, the biggest win is that you know where you stand. This is much better than remaining in an uncertain circle of calculations. And let’s not forget, Trump used all his emotions, seemed to be authentic, and spoke from the bottom of his heart. There is a Persian expression which says, “The words coming from the heart make it to the heart.” When this happens, the message gets through and you connect emotionally with people. Remember, lasting connection is made through feelings not rationale!

  1. Change your strategy when it is time


Compare Trump’s famous speech on immigration and creating a wall between the US and Mexico with his victory speech. His speech on November 9th 2016 surprised me. He used statements such as, “bind the wounds of division”, “to come together as one united people”, “to be a president for all America”, “working together”, “build our infrastructure”, “put millions of our people to work”, “take care of great veterans”, and “we will get along with all other nations willing to get along with us”. Donald Trump was even gracious towards Hillary Clinton whom he had said previously would go to jail if he became president. Changing direction so dramatically may not be appreciated by everyone. However, it is a leadership quality. What I draw out of this is that at a certain point in time the old strategy should make place for a new one to achieve new objectives. The leader should be able to sell the transformation. Changing strategy when appropriate is a great quality only highly effective leaders have. I would like to call it strategic leadership rather than strategic management. By strategic leadership I mean leading in a way that helps you break through strategically. This is what Donald Trump did in his speech on November 9th. It was amazing to see that the markets appreciated Trump’s strategically chosen words during his victory speech.

Disclaimer: This article is written from leadership and influence points of view. It does not mean that the author agrees or disagrees with Mr. Donald Trump.

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About the author

Hamid Safaei is the author of the upcoming book First Class leadership: He is the founder of ImOcean Academy. Hamid is a qualified executive coach helping executives and budding entrepreneurs make breakthroughs. He has led successful business transformations for a number of Fortune Global 500 companies.