Leadership expert: Trump can prove himself on campaign trail

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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He is rich beyond belief and is the author of several business/self help/leadership books, but is Donald Trump a leader of men?  That’s the question I posed recently to James Strock a speaker, consultant and entrepreneur who has authored several books on leadership, including “Serve to Lead” and “Theodore Roosevelt on Leadership.”

“Despite his business success,” says Strock, “[Trump has] never actually run anything that’s similar to a large organization.  He’s like an old-school boss.”

Strock, who also authored “Ronald Reagan on Leadership,” referenced the recent comparisons between the two men, adding that while Reagan changed political parties, he had a consistent philosophy and “there was none of this zigzagging around.”

But when it comes to Trump’s evolving positions and outrageous comments, Strock warned that “ad hocism and opportunism is the exact opposite of leadership,” adding, “Leadership is about serving others.”  He also noted that Reagan as a communicator was very disciplined — an attribute Trump may not possess.

But while Strock is skeptical of Trump’s ability to lead, he also noted that his unconventional background is probably a plus, saying, “Some of the worst presidents had the most extensive public service backgrounds.”  He also noted that, like Reagan, Donald Trump “expresses public issues from the vantage point of regular people.”

He also cautioned against focusing on Trump’s weaknesses by placing past historical leaders on a pedestal. Winston Churchill, for example, Strock noted, had “errors and shortcomings that were truly spectacular, yet when a fundamental moment of truth arose, he was able to meet it.”

So what could Trump do to prove his leadership mettle and convince the critics?  Strock says he would advise Trump to “put himself in the humbling rituals of the campaign process.”

In other words, Trump can’t just rely on TV ads and publicity gimmicks — passing the real credibility test will require spending time on the trail with real people in places like Iowa. Citing John F. Kennedy’s 1960 campaign, among others, Strock said, “Other presidents of great wealth earned credibility and appeared to grow in that process.”

Matt K. Lewis