Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Donald Trump and a Vision of Leadership

In The Apprentice, Donald Trump presents a rare opportunity for many people to observe the same business leader at work. Yes, I know it's 'only a show' but I find at least a couple of reasons to believe we see him lead at least similarly to how he would usually. The first is that I doubt Mr. Trump would permit the producer to have him do something incongruent with his values or usual behavior. The second is that if this isn't the real Donald, the winner is in for a heck of a surprise.

This post is about the model, using Mr. Trump as I see him in the show to illustrate the leadership practices and outcomes proposed in the Vision of Leadership (now Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation).

It is important at this point to recall that the model suggests categories of leadership practices and does not narrowly define the specifics. By avoiding the prejudices that flow from stereotyping and with recognition that the strongest leaders are often those least expected to be, all types of personalities and styles are included. The model's only boundaries are that leadership embraces the four values, lead, follow, innovate and implement.


STRUCTURING: Donald explains the interview process to select the most capable apprentice and each week he describes a new project for the candidates. He says what he expects to be implemented and the consequences of success and failure.

IMPROVISING: I have seen improvising with respect to his vision only in executive session when there is an occasional remark to George or Carolyn about the kind of people he likes to hire.

REALIZING: This televised, competitive, executive hiring process is very innovative and there is an expressed necessity to implement it according to a concise plan.


STRUCTURING: The events he directs occur on time with everyone ready for action. This is most evident in the board room where additionally he conducts his meetings with authority.

CONFORMING: The success of the show depends upon Mr. Trump's apparent comfort working under the constraints of lights, cameras, shooting schedule and a director's guidance.

RESPECTING: While he exercises a firm hand in the board room he gives a fair hearing to anyone who needs to speak, listening attentively.


RESPECTING: Donald has agreed to occasional and unusual proposals from loosing project managers about their team members' participation. I recall two, there may be more.

IMPROVISING: In the boardroom when the tension is high around a candidate's personal situation or a team's performance, Donald will enter into a short and powerful dialog, often expressing strong empathy or despair.

RESPONDING: He uses information gathered on and off camera about the team's performance to guide review meetings, particularly with the loosing team. If a candidate makes a good case in the boardroom Donald acknowledges that.


RESPONDING, REALIZING, CONFORMING: By participating in The Apprentice, Donald contributes to many people, including candidates, TV production staff, a TV channel's management, advertisers, viewers and, presumably, stockholders. In order to do so he must, to some degree, be responding to, conforming to and realizing their needs.

I hope to have illustrated each of the six leadership practices and by association, each of the four leadership outcomes that together comprise this description of leadership. It appears to me that during the The Apprentice, Donald Trump demonstrates to a greater or lesser degree all aspects of the model. I welcome any comments or other examples from the show that further test and clarify the proposed model, A Vision of Leadership (now Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation).

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

excellent thanks