Many, like myself, had hoped that our president would undergo a maturity transformation once holding our highest office in the land. But Donald Trump’s insults and slanders, lashing out at any naysayers, and accusatory rhetoric continued even after inauguration day.
After initially downplaying the dangers posed by the coronavirus pandemic, I and others still expected our president to finally rise to the occasion and accept the mantle of a unifying leader. The expectation was that Trump would finally abandon the practice of dispensing all the blame on others while embracing his new role of coordinator in chief.
At this moment, most of America wants and needs a leader who is willing to harness a cooperative spirit — to coordinate resources with the states and private industry, and to offer unwavering support of the science that will save lives and in time help reopen our economy.
Most understand that together a new sense of spirit and cooperation typical of an international crisis or a nation at war is our way past this pandemic.
Unity is why governments form — for the common good, for enhanced safety in numbers, and to benefit from a coordinated and purposeful society.
While earning an MBA eons ago, I recall reviewing the basic types of leadership styles found in organizations.
Laissez-faire leadership is the approach where the views and actions of subordinates who execute policies as experts in their fields are brought together by a leader who simply melds these actions into a general process.
Autocratic/authoritarian leadership is characterized by a dictatorial personality who directs and controls every aspect of organizational activity. Autocratic leaders generally exaggerate the threats of an actual or fictional enemy, and by using fear, gather cooperation against this “enemy.”
Transactional leaders manifest systems of rewards and punishments in relationship to perceived cooperation and performance. These leaders use pay raises, recognition, compliments and promotion as rewards for those who cooperate while simultaneously using reputation smears, firing, threats and shaming as punishments for those who do not achieve stated goals or follow the official narrative.
Democratic leadership is characterized by a hybrid approach that blends laissez-faire and autocratic leadership. These leaders encourage participation from subordinates in forming recommendations, but then they make the final decision the organization is expected to fully embrace and adopt.
Transformational leaders attempt to create a vision for the organization and frequently restate what their vision looks like to inspire cooperation and stimulate progress. Transformational leaders attempt to clearly define why there is a need for change and coordinate evolution through clear instructions and communication.
Trump’s opportunity to transform himself and thereby avoid thousands of needless deaths has unfortunately now come and gone.
Instead of bringing the 50 lifeboats to safety, state-by-state, to avoid the massive tides of death threatening to tip each over, Trump’s policy is to blame the lifeboat captains while denying their passengers safe harbor. And Trump incites mutiny among these 50 crews as well.
Even with tens of thousands dying in just the last month and the knowledge that social distancing is working, Trump is now railing against Centers for Disease Control guidelines — the guidelines his hand-picked experts have established and he has approved.
Inciting rebellion and distrust of against first the Democrats and the press, Trump has expanded his vitriol and rhetoric to include any governor or commentator who has a different view than his, his own medical experts, and even against the very safety guidelines he himself recommends.
On the same day Trump proclaimed to the world that social distancing is working, he also tweets that it is time to end social distancing and to “Liberate Minnesota,” “Liberate Michigan,” and “Liberate Virginia.”
According to Trump’s own criteria, these states where he has rallied discontent and supports insurrection do not meet his criteria for opening up the economy.
Trump is inciting a tea party-like, anti-establishment movement of the very government he leads.
It seems we are doomed by Trump’s permanent blend of autocratic and transactional styles of leadership. Trump is unable to evolve into something better or someone more effective — a transformational leader.
Who are the geniuses who are willing to revolt against the Trump administration because Trump says to do so?
If a madman issues crazy, conflicting advice, how do we characterize those who willingly support these destructive ideas that create more death? Patriots?
Please stay home, be safe, and pray at home.
Jonathan Kraut directs a private investigations firm, is the CFO of a private security firm, is the COO of an acting conservatory, is a published author, and Democratic Party activist. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal or of other organizations.