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4 Reasons Why Donald Trump Might Derail as a Leader

March 3, 2016

whitehouse.jpgI recently wrote an article looking at the “glass half full” describing the positive leadership traits that Donald Trump has demonstrated over the years, which have allowed him to be successful. However, there are 2 sides to every coin. Some of the same personality traits that have helped him be successful may also derail his bid to become the next President of the United States. Let’s take a deeper dive into the traits that may lead to his ultimate derailment. 

1) Egotistical

It is a very safe bet to say that Donald Trump has a massive ego. In order for him to build his name and brand over the years, he has been a great spokesman for himself. He likes to tout his successes, his intelligence, his business deals, etc.

Related to his ego is his inability to talk about or admit mistakes. He does reflect on situations that he hoped would have gone differently, but he certainly does not like to bring those situations to the forefront. We can all agree on this point and it is a trait that may hinder his ability to make smart decisions in the White House. In case anyone is still on the fence as to whether or not he has a massive ego, here are some quotes for your reading enjoyment: 

Donald Trump Quotes

  • “I am really a smart guy.” (TIME, April 14, 2011)

  • “I look very much forward to showing my financials, because they are huge.” (TIME, April 14, 2011)

  • “Show me someone without an ego, and I’ll show you a loser.” (Facebook, Dec. 9, 2013)

2) Temperamental

Probably related to his ego is the way Donald can become excitable in certain situations. On one side, his energy and optimism help his brand and helps him rally supporters. However, we've all seen him be temperamental at times. For example, let’s examine his feud with Rosie O’Donnell. He tends to be sensitive when other popular figures attack him on any level. I'm not going to insert a lot of quotes related to that feud below, mostly because they are not appropriate. However, this is an area that could derail Donald. He will need to show restraint and calmness when dealing with others, especially if he wants to gain the respect of the entire world. 

Donald Trump Quote

  • "Rosie is a bully. I hit her between the eyes, she's worried about being sued, and her response today was nothing. She's not a very smart person, if you look at her IQ I guarantee you it's not up there." 

3) Locus of Control

There is a concept referred to as locus of control and there are two types – internal and external. People who have an internal locus of control believe that their actions will impact the outcome of a situation. So, for example, I know that if I work hard I will be promoted and it is up to me how hard I want to work. 

Individuals who have an external locus of control think that the outcome of a situation is largely dependent on other extraneous variables and their actions have little to do with that outcome. So, for example, if a project I am managing does not go well I would blame it on the situation and not my own effort. 

Now, I fully realize that politicians who are running for public office should not be publicizing and discussing at length all of the things they could do better. And Donald Trump falls in nicely with the politicians he is up against. It seems as though anything that goes well is due to his amazing intellect. However, if anything goes wrong it is because of some external factor. I like to refer to this as his (and all politicians) bi-polar locus of control.

Donald Trump Quotes

  • “I can never apologize for the truth.” (Fox News, July 5, 2015)

  • “Who knows what’s in the deepest part of my mind?” (BuzzFeed, Feb 13, 2014)

4) Colorful

Related to the other personality traits is his attention seeking behavior. Donald needs to be the most important person in the room. Given the fact that he owns his own company, he is a popular figure, and is now running for president, he typically feels that he is the most important person in the room. His personality lends itself to this as well.

The way this can derail a leader is when they need to take a back seat because others are more knowledgeable about a topic. He needs this trait to be elected but then he will need to temper it to be effective. Can he be a chameleon in his way?  

Donald Trump Quotes

  • “Sorry, there is no STAR on the stage tonight!” – Because HE was not on stage (Twitter, 2015)

  • “My IQ is one of the highest – and you all know it!  Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure; it’s not your fault.”

Let’s assume for a minute that Donald Trump manages to stay on course, receive the Republican nomination, and ultimately wins the Presidential election. My biggest question is which Trump we will be getting as President? Will we get a successful businessman who understands how to manage difficult projects and situations? Or will we get a bold and excitable personality who cannot work with others to accomplish anything whatsoever? The jury is still out but it will be an interesting ride to see what happens.

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Paul Glatzhofer Paul Glatzhofer is the VP of Talent Solutions based in the Pittsburgh office of PSI Services LLC. He works primarily with organizations that are implementing global assessment and development systems at the leadership level. Paul’s work includes leadership development, leadership skills training, coaching, leadership and executive selection, turnover and ROI analysis, and ongoing feedback development.