The Trump phenomenon affords many (often uncomfortable) leadership lessons; for instance, that a brand is not an organization, so Trump would have trouble in caucus states where having a ground game matters, and that what people say they want in leaders is often the opposite of what they select. Now, Trump is demonstrating one of the most important lessons in power and leadership: that winning excuses almost everything as people rush to associate with powerful winners.
William Cohan’s recent cover story in Fortune argued that “a reckoning is coming in the tech world.” That prediction may or may not come true, as research shows that even expert forecasts are often wrong. But whether or not Cohan’s prediction is correct, high enterprise valuations and IPO problems won’t affect the VC or private equity industries very much.
That’s because investment managers long ago mastered an important skill—the ability to gather assets under a compensation structure that makes them money almost regardless of how their investments perform. Here’s how it works.
In 2015, “old power” people and tactics triumphed in politics and business around the world. Sometimes, good people behaving nicely did well and received deserved plaudits, but not often enough.
This year, there was lots of talk about transparency, holacracy, the power of social networks to constrain selfish or dishonest behavior, and so forth. Meanwhile, the facts of leadership and power remained anchored in a social dynamic that Machiavelli would easily recognize.
Many pundits such as David Brooks expect the Trump bubble to burst and his support to fade as voters get more serious about the election and give Trump and his rhetoric and policy positions a closer look. But supposedly knowledgeable observers have been predicting Trump’s fade for months. Meanwhile, recent polls show him leading the field with more support among Republicans than ever. Here are some social psychological principles that make sense of the “Trump phenomenon.”
Was he admitted to West Point? Was his childhood adversity and temperament precisely as he described them? Did he really try to stab someone in high school?
The recent flap over Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson’s life story and its accuracy offers a lesson that applies to anyone who’s ever recounted an autobiographical tale, including many other political candidates whose personal narratives include factual errors. That is, self-reported personal anecdotes are seldom entirely accurate and truthful, because they almost can’t be.
When people talk about themselves and their pasts, they are motivated to both selectively remember and selectively disclose positive personal information.
Apologies are in the air these days. This month, outgoing Procter & Gamble CEO A.G. Lafley took responsibility for the consumer product giant’s weak performance at the company’s annual meeting and promised improvements. United’s new (and currently sidelined) CEO Oscar Munoz apologized to the company’s employees and passengers for its poor treatment of them. Pope Francis apologized—again—for the scandals bedeviling the Catholic church. Volkswagen apologized for selling cars with software designed to defeat pollution control regulations. And more than a year ago, Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, “gave a full-throated apology for the defect-and-recall disaster” arising from flawed ignition switches.
The juxtaposition seemed striking: on the one hand, Pope Francis in the U.S. with his message of taking care of the poor and the forgotten—a Pope who had published an encyclical speaking to the challenges of inequality and reminding us that “human beings too are creatures of this world”—and on that same day, an article describing the inconsistent way in which Starbucks was implementing its proposed policy to give its hourly store workers more notice about their ever-shifting schedules and total hours of work.
While pundits endlessly debate Carly Fiorina’s record at Hewlett-Packard — how much of the stock price decline during her tenure was her fault; was the Compaq merger, about to be undone in the impending split of the company, smart or dumb; how much did H-P really increase its sales and inventiveness during her reign, and so forth — there’s one thing no one should question: Fiorina has mastered some important lessons in leadership, lessons relevant for anyone.
Here are four things that anyone, running for president or not, can and should do:
At breakfast, Steve Westly, employee No. 22 at eBay, former California state controller, and a candidate for governor in the 2018 race, explained that his political campaign was like growing a startup from scratch to $30 million in about 18 months, with all the scaling up and operational issues such growth entailed. The challenge would be many orders of magnitude larger in a national presidential campaign.
The recent New York Times profile of Amazon.com describing its relentless, high-pressure, measurement-obsessed culture is scarcely the first to depict what it is like to work there, either in its warehouses or its offices. While CEO Jeff Bezos has denied (no surprise) the accuracy of the reporting, a quick Web search reveals numerous articles painting a picture remarkably consistent with this most recent portrayal: Amazon is a tough place to work, Bezos is famous for his temper and put-downs of employees, and many people who cannot stand the stress and pressure leave.
There are numerous lessons to be gained from considering Amazon, its culture, and its success—lessons that pertain to many other workplaces. Here are three: