For a bit of fun, we took a look at our current President and his project management prowess in light of our previous work on hierarchies of teams… i.e., would he be a great project manager????
President Trump is known for his confrontational style of negotiation and high energy. As a business leader who enjoys competition and a need to win, he emulates another President, Teddy Roosevelt. Both men are marked by wanting to do great things and leave their mark on the world. As President, Roosevelt oversaw the building of the Panama Canal and significant additions to the National Park system, amongst many others. We shall see if Trump leaves any similar marks on the world during his presidency.
Having a high level of energy can be great in a Project Manager. Challenges will come and having zeal to embrace those challenges can be a useful asset. However, an excellent Project Manager must also rise above negotiating every aspect of a project. Team members must feel empowered to win – at minimum as an individual or, even better, as a team. Some team members might feel challenged to rise to the occasion under a challenging project manager. Others might feel like the only winner on the team will be the Project Manager.
In a Business Insider article on Trump’s management style, they dive into his lack of warmth as a manager. This style of management attacks the sense of team that is needed to anticipate crises and work through issues together. Harshness will put barriers between team members as they weigh who is friend or foe. This can also prevent team members from being vulnerable and open for coaching and suggestions when struggling with responsibilities.
In his book, The Art of the Deal, Trump openly admitted that he thinks big and is not afraid to employ hyperbole to manipulate a situation. While this can be effective as a negotiation tactic, it is not helpful to be uncertain as to the goals of a project as well as the status. Further, using deceit (or hyperbole) as a management tactic creates distrust of other things the Project Manager says. This will derail projects by causing uncertainty with the stakeholders (in this case, us) and within the project team.
A recent Brookings Study revealed that President Trump has had a significant amount of turnover in the first eighteen months of his presidency. To be sure, as current Chief of Staff, General John Kelly stated, working in the White House is a high-pressure environment. However, Trump’s turnover is twice as high as Reagan in his first years.
At Waddell Group, any time we see high turnover, it raises concerns about the stability of the team, the skill of the leader of the team, and whether the project will be able to complete on time and within budget. When turnover is high, weakness occurs, negating the building of Esprit de Corps, which is key for teams to handle challenges. As with all teams, the leader is who establishes the core values of the team.
Under our work on hierarchies of teams, we point out that on good teams, individuals win. On great teams, the team wins. Under elite teams, the company – or in this case, the country – wins. In the case of President Trump, we see a mixed bag of results. While the economy is doing well, other nations are becoming more hostile, questioning their standing with us. Further, the United States doesn’t have certainty with the direction the country is taking. What will he do next? To not know what your project manager will say or do next is unsettling in the realm of project management.
At Waddell Group, we would advise our countries’ “project manager” (President) to hire great people and empower them, be transparent and honest with his team and the country, and set directions for his projects early and drive them consistently. True greatness means he wins, we win, and the Country wins. Time will tell how that’s going to turn out.