One of the latest tirades from Donald Trump was against Lebron James. I have been thinking of his style of functioning and that of the “traditional” style of leadership. All the books that I have read on leaders, all the leaders that I have seen, are more or less, role models. At the very least, they offer words of wisdom and speak what I like to call, “The Universal Truth”. Take Barack Obama – I am no expert on his policies or the impact that he had on the economy of the United States or that of the world. I was always impressed with the way he carried himself and the way that he spoke. His handling of particularly volatile situations seemed to always be in a calm and measured method. Mr. Trump, on the other hand, comes across as very petty, impetuous and pusillanimous.
Trump is the President of the United States of America. Arguably, one of the most prominent jobs in the world and definitely a job that is not easy. There, we have a person who is cheap enough to take a potshot at a basketball player, chiding him and goading him, comparing him with another great of a bygone era. Is he a role model? Do leaders need to be role models? Traditionally, yes. Nowadays, I am not so sure. Having read a book on Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, I am reminded of his style too. He was known to throw tantrums and be extremely capricious. He would absolutely ridicule and belittle one of his employee’s ideas one day and turn around 180 degrees the next, praising it and/ or even claiming the idea as his own. Today, he is considered a great man who created what is currently the first trillion dollar company in the world. Was he a great leader? History will call him one of the greatest ever. For his directs though, he must have been a terror. On the same subject, he is said to have practiced and perfected the “art” of the stare. He would disconcertingly stare at some people who may have come to meet with him continuously until that person would look away. Imagine doing something like that?! Not a pleasant thought to be at the receiving end of a rant or a glare.
Then, we have the example of MS Dhoni. Again, all I can go by is third person accounts or from what I have seen on TV. He seems to have the respect of everyone in the team that he leads. People respond to him and he is successful in leading any team he takes the helm of, to victory. Ricky Ponting, Indira Nooyi perhaps, JRD Tata maybe, the list is long, I am sure, of people with different leadership styles who seem to be grounded and able to lead their teams to glory without needing to resort to an intimidating approach.
All of this leads to the question – what makes a good leader? The answer is quite tricky and definitely cannot be as simple as Peter Drucker once put it – “… leadership is doing the right things”. Everyone does the right thing in their own opinion and at the time that they are doing it. I don’t think there is a single right answer to the question. Leadership style is down to the person in the position at the time. Whoever it may be, however they may be – they are a leader in their own right given a set of circumstances and situations. Everyone experiences moments in their lives when they are a leader. Good or bad is dependent on the perspective.
What do you think?