People are concerned that Trump may be elected as President and the damage he could do to the world. From my perspective, whether he gets elected or not, the source of his relative success if not addressed will continue and will show up in other ways. So if the US (and the world) is concerned about what Trump represents, it had better start to confront the source that gives rise to Trump or we will continue to get more ‘Trumpness’.
Trump only has traction because a large number of people support him. Supporting Trump is their way of responding to their concerns not being addressed. When people’s concerns are not addressed (I don’t mean that you necessarily agree with them), they dig their heels in and are less willing to listen to the views of others. Listening to and addressing people’s concerns is fundamental to engaging people in any endeavour. So what can we learn from Trump and the US election?
- If you take a victim’s perspective i.e. ‘they’ are the problem and you are not, it will make the situation worse. Trump is a phenomena of US politics as a system having a victim culture. Each side is blaming the other for the problems the US faces internally and externally entrenching the view that they are right and the other side is wrong. As a consequence, they do not listen to each other’s concerns and therefore do not address those concerns. In a New York Times article, Arthur.C.Brooks said that “…victimhood makes it more and more difficult for us to resolve political and social conflicts.”
- If you damage your integrity by saying one thing and then not honouring what you have said, people will not trust you. Without trust, there is no engagement. Authenticity, behaving and acting consistent with your values, your commitments, promises and agreements is requisite for building effective relationships. This is true in politics, business, families and friendships – any relationship.
- When you do not act with integrity, you must take responsibility and restore trust. For too long politics has lacked integrity. Promises have not been kept, people have been lied to and misled and decisions have been made that do not serve the people such as US gun laws.
I come across many examples of the above points in the work I do with organisations. Here are a few examples I’ve come across.
- When results are not produced, the leader blames their team and does not confront how they are contributing to the team not being effective and the results not being produced.
- Paying an executive bonus or salary increases when a business is struggling or failing or not sharing the profits of your business with staff when the business is doing well.
- Leaders ‘fixing’ engagement by dealing with the symptoms and not addressing how they are contributing to the problem, coming up with schemes to cover up the real problem.
- Blaming other factors for not being accountable and not acting with integrity– the condition of the market, having too much to do, the decisions of the board, politics, shareholders, other parts of the business, lack of resources etc.
- Excusing or justifying inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour.
In my view, until we address the culture of victim, the symptoms of this culture will continue to get worse – polarisation of politics, downturn of economies due to mismanagement and lack of leadership in our businesses and political system, the poor becoming poorer, the flood of refugees and their inhumane treatment, not dealing with social issues such as lack of resources for providing health services, the needs of an ageing population, social injustices such as unacceptably high incarceration of Aboriginal youths – and the list goes on.
The persistence and worsening of many of the world’s problems (and our own problems) is sourced in being victims. Turning this around must start with each of us addressing our own ‘victimness’ by taking responsibility for contributing to things not working well and holding others accountable for doing the same. Only then will ‘Trumpness’ go away.