Whether you like politics or not, you have to admit this year’s race for President is is anything but boring. On the Republicans side you have committed, conservative politicians, such as Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio, each with well-funded campaigns actually getting hammered by an outsider, Donald Trump. A self-proclaimed Republican outsider, Trump ironically has a proven track record of supporting democrats and liberals over the course of his career.
On the Democratic side, you have the heir apparent Hillary Clinton, a politician who has been the First Lady, a United States Senator and the Secretary of State, getting a bit of a political bruising from Senator Bernie Sanders. A Senator from Vermont, Sanders has very progressive ideas, and openly describes himself as a Democratic Socialist, meaning his ideas are to the far left of most American voters.
Yes despite looking better on paper, these “traditional” Republican and Democratic candidates are getting a true run for their money by these so-called political outsiders. Why? What are Trump and Sanders, doing, specifically, that makes up for their lack of political resume? What is it that is making people take notice and want to follow them?
I have to admit, when this political season started, I thought both Trump and Sanders would have short-lived stints on the campaign trail, and I didn’t think either was serious or even really had a shot. And while I still do not think either one of them will be the political choice of their party, I do think there are some things, as leaders, we can all learn about the impact they are having and why they are creating a following.
3 Reasons Trump and Sanders Are Surging Ahead
Now I believe, from watching and observing these two men, while they are very different in what they say, the words they use, and their meaning, they definitely share a leadership style. There are three distinct and powerful leadership attributes that these two men invoke when they speak that makes potential voters take notice, and ensures they stand out from their competition.
Edgy – to say that what Trump and Sanders do and say is edgy, is probably a huge understatement, but agree with them or not, you hear their point of view and their message. In today’s busy and overly competitive world to lead you have to get above the white noise, and you have to be different from your competition. In addition, you need to stand for something. When you take a stand, and you are edgy in how your promote it, you first make people take notice, and second you give voters who believe in you something to get behind. A reason to vote for you or in a leader’s case follow you.
Courage – fear is something that neither one of these men has, or if they do they do not show it. Both Trump and Sanders have the courage to say what they think and then stick to it. When the media called Sanders a socialist, he did not run away from it, he embraced the title. And when South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley implied Trump was angry, and anger was not a good thing for the Republican Party, Trump too embraced it. In fact he took it on as some kind of badge of honor, and implied it was a reason to vote for him. These two men say provocative things, and they have the courage to stand behind their words. That confidence, that strength inspires voters to believe in them, and believe they will put action to their words. As leaders, we need to have the courage to say what we think, and act in a way that is not always popular with everyone.
Belief – both of these men radiate an energy that says they believe what they say. Whether they do or not, well that remains to be seen, but they have convinced the American voter they believe it. Neither of these men speaks with a script or a teleprompter, their words are off the cuff and from the heart. There is an energy and confidence in their words that gives them power and conviction. Trump and Sanders never sound or appear to have been coached (or man I hope not given some of the stuff they say!) and that raw honesty is intoxicating. Leadership is so much more about how we say things honestly than what we say. The energy we give off, the conviction with which we speak, and the commitment we have to our words, gives people confidence. When we believe what we say, our followers will believe it too.
3 Reasons They Won’t Make It To The Finish Line
Now even with all these two men have going for them, I do believe, at the end of the day neither will be their party’s nominee. I think as voters head to the poles they will be inspired to make a more “middle of the road” choice. Why? Well there are three reasons I feel, that while Sanders and Trump are currently surging ahead, at the end of the day they will be put out of the running.
All of the leadership attributes I listed above are critical for success today, whether you are winning an election or inspiring a team. However, there is more to it than that, if you want to make it to the finish line. Leaders need to be balanced, possessing a wide range of leadership attributes, to ensure they can lead all types of people and in all types of situations.
Realistic – first and foremost leaders need to be realistic; realistic when setting goals and winning elections. Trump and Sanders have some extreme ideas, and even if you like what they are saying, putting those ideas into action is another story. Think of the money needed to make some of the changes about which either of them is talking. Think of the long-term impact of some of their ideas. While they might have tapped into some voters emotions of needed change, the implementation of their ideas just are not realistic. As leaders we need to set goals, establish a pace of change that can actually be achieved. Without logic and reachable goals, our followers will become weary, worn out and move on to someone else they can believe in.
Listen – a good leader always has someone that tells the ”Emperor He Has No Clothes”, in other words he listens to opposing points of view and ideas. Both Trump and Sanders appear to be pretty set in their ways, and in their ideas. Think about the long-term affect of having a leader who does not listen, especially a leader who does not represent your point of view. In order to lead, you need followers, and to create a following you need to listen. People support what they help create, and while they may admire a leaders strength of conviction and belief, they will soon lose respect for a leader who is not open to others’ ideas.
Inclusive – last but not least, like it or not, we need the next leader of our country to be inclusive. If we are to move forward as a country we need a President who understands this is not a conservative or liberal position, but a position that represents all. Neither Trump nor Sanders appear to be inclusive. Now in fairness, I do not know a lot about Sanders’ leadership style, but the change he is proposing is not inclusive of most Americans… And Trump, well you know if you do not agree with him that “You’re Fired.” In my opinion the number one job of a leader is to bring people together. Leadership is not about getting those who agree with you to follow, but in how skilled you are in creating a diverse following.
“the number one job of a leader is to bring people together.”
So yes, I love political season! The theatrics are always entertaining, and every year there are more lessons to be learned and knowledge to be gained just by watching and observing our political leaders. My advice? Well, I am not going to tell you who to vote for, but I can tell you, if you want to be the type of leader who can instill ownership at every level, and make this economy work for you, then you need to embrace all these leadership attributes.
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Motivational Keynote Speaker & Business Growth Expert, Meridith Elliott Powell works with clients to help them instill ownership at every level to ensure profits at every turn. Meridith is the author of several books, including her latest, Winning In The Trust & Value Economy: a professional’s guide to business and sales success. When not keynoting and leading workshops, she looks for inspiration cycling, golfing or hiking her favorite trail. http://www.meridithelliottpowell.co