A Letter to President Trump About Leadership Skills

Dear Mr. President,

Thank you for creating the biggest increase in government interest and participation that I have ever witnessed. If that was your goal in making America great, you have succeeded far beyond any expectations.  I hope you will read this letter, because I do have some solutions for you along with my observations.

As an American citizen, a small business owner for over 25 years, and someone who teaches leadership and team building skills to corporate America, I felt especially compelled to write to you versus just my representatives (to whom I have also sent correspondence). In my business, we always advise people not to gossip and spread negative ideas about others behind their back, but to speak directly to those with whom you have issues.  So I am writing you about my grave concerns about your honest desire to unite this country and whether you are even able to do it.

I’m one of the millions who did not vote for you, but I am hoping for your success. I am not a hardline Democrat, but a Centrist, who believes in the greatness of the United States and our system of checks and balances that insures “government by the people.” I was disheartened that my candidate did not win the election, but I believe in the office of the President of the United States, and that we should all give you a chance. My Republican friends assured me that all your posturing, bullying and tweeting was just campaign rhetoric, and that you would indeed be a different and very “presidential” person that we could be proud of. I have been waiting patiently for this person to appear. But so far, since January 20th, I have seen a reality TV personality treat the presidency just like his other TV show. This is what I have observed:

  1. A rush to reverse everything that the last administration painstakingly put into place—without any pause to understand any of the details. This is extremely reckless and juvenile– not presidential.
  2. The immediate ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries, except for those where you do business. This ban caused chaos and fear nationwide. There was no plan, no explanation, no roll out. Those trying to follow your order were confused and not prepared at all. You claim that you needed to surprise people so we would not have a flood of immigrants before anything was in place. You further state that it was for our safety, which is your first priority. The terrorists who have staged attacks here did not come from any of those countries. Those involved in 9/11 came from Saudi Arabia, who is not on the list. You were not considering the safety of people who had green cards and Visas, nor their American families. I don’t believe you are even aware of what it takes to get a Visa to visit the U.S. People apply; spend hundreds of dollars, wait years. Many are denied, but go through the process again and again, because their families are here. This executive order is not only against everything this country stands for, but it was poorly executed without any thought or plan. Again—not presidential.
  3. Your modus operandi seems to be strong-arming everyone and every entity to agree with you or face the wrath of your tweets, bullying and negative comments, ignoring, banishing or firing. Yes, this works on reality TV, but the real work of governing the United States is not to get ratings. You seem intent on monopolizing the headlines—no matter what. Is any press good press? Like a bull in a china shop, you bellow and thrash about when unimportant things like the number of people attending your inauguration are reported. Are you doing this as a diversion? This tactic takes the focus off of other important issues, which perhaps you are surreptitiously working on. Maybe you hope you can just sneak some things through without anyone noticing, because we are so caught up in these other tantrums, which are definitely not presidential.
  4. Your Cabinet selections are for the most part senseless. Why pick people who have no expertise in some of these areas –like Betsy DeVos or Ben Carson? It appears that it is so you can easily manipulate them. Because, of course, you will just fire them if they don’t follow your lead to the letter. Your other picks clearly demonstrate your intent to weaken the Environmental Protection Agency, deregulate important safeguards for consumers, let big business have much freer rein, and along with your right hand man, Bannon, give discrimination a green light. You accused someone of “pay to play” during your campaign. Many of your cabinet picks seem to be just that as well.
  5. You appear to have a policy of isolationism. The time for that is long past. Everything, every issue is global. What we do affects every country. What other countries do affects us. You derided NATO as being obsolete and threatened to ignore our longstanding allies, then later reversed your position. This kind of behavior makes everyone uncertain. Is stoking fear your primary purpose? You keep bullying companies to bring manufacturing jobs back here. You talk about more taxes/tariffs on goods produced elsewhere. You certainly have not studied the total situation and do not have a grasp of the consequences of these actions. Automation has taken away more jobs than overseas factories. We cannot produce quality goods at competitive prices in many industries. If you impose taxes on things like autos made in Mexico, we Americans will be the ones to pay. Currently, what we get in dollar benefits from our trade with Mexico is nearly equal to what they receive from us. You make it sound very lopsided, and that is not true. We all depend upon each other—all over the world. It isn’t as black and white as you make everything out to be. But the fact that you took absolutely no time to study the situation or get advice from many sources—before making calls and decisions – is not presidential. You are acting like a Dictator.
  6. Your actions these first few weeks in office have been more divisive to this country than any president before you. The rallies, the marches, the protests… and yet you fail to hear your people. Instead you take a stand and make threats. A prime example is your threat to withhold federal funds from California. The State of California pays more to the federal government in taxes than the amount received back. Making idle threats does not endear you to Californians. In other instances, you are ignoring your own people; you are baiting them; you are inciting and inviting hate. What happened to your “promise” to unite the country? That should be at the top of your agenda. The fact that it is not is disturbing. You seem to be fueling fear, hatred and discontent: everything that drives the plot of a television show. “The Boardroom” is not the Oval Office. Not presidential at all.
  7. Making false statements. This is something that is very troublesome. As Commander in Chief, you should not be making claims that cannot be supported or can easily be proven wrong. As an example, your statement that many terrorist attacks go unreported or “under reported” –in order to shore up your claim that the media is against you: “You’ve seen what happened in Paris and Nice. All over Europe it’s happening. It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported. And in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons and you understand that.” News organizations have reported extensively about terrorist attacks around the world, including the two in France mentioned. Neither you nor your spokesmen offered a single example of an attack that had gone unreported to support your accusation. This is a thinly veiled attempt to discredit the press that makes it seem like you are “grasping at straws.” This is just one of many instances in which you made quick, off-the cuff statements without any consideration for the truth. Your words do matter.

We are a nation populated and built by immigrants. Every success we enjoy is on the backs and sweat of immigrants. We are stronger if united. Your statements and plans serve far less than half of all Americans—and therefore undermine this unity. This can be substantiated.

It is impossible to please every single person, but it is possible to represent the majority of us on all issues. However, this means that the majority will not be the exact same group of people for every single thing. Just because you threw out a lot of campaign promises in your quest for the presidency, not every person wearing a red hat wanted every single thing you mentioned. And in fact, some Democrats were in favor of some of your ideas, though they did not have any details on how you expected to achieve them. The group of people that supports bringing jobs back is different from the group of people who supports repealing Obamacare, which is definitely not a majority. You cannot just assume that everyone who voted for you is totally in favor of every single campaign promise and that every campaign promise is backed by a majority of Americans. I guarantee that is not the case. Since your inauguration, you seem to be acting under that assumption—that you must fulfill every campaign promise immediately to keep your base cheering. The alarming rate at which you are signing orders is just raising more red flags about your ability as Commander in Chief.

You have time to change and become the president that I think you want to be—and the one our nation hopes for.                             Here is a short list for your consideration:

  1. Be open to critiques. Honestly, ask others who have worked with you how you can become a better leader; what are your strengths and weaknesses. Be clear that you are seeking their true opinions—not “oh, you are perfect.” Try to build upon the positive and work on the skills that you may be lacking.
  2. Do not make snap decisions—which you may regret later. When you have to reverse your decision, it just makes you look incompetent. Take time to get to know the people and the issues. Use the first months to assess everything. Talk to everyone. No one wants or expects you to turn everything upside down immediately. Doing so just creates wariness, insecurity and does nothing to build trust.
  3. Do not fail to reverse decisions that turn out to be wrong—just because you think that would be a sign of weakness to say you were wrong. It is worse to be wrong and not have the guts to admit it.
  4. Treat everyone with respect—and that includes people who do not agree with you or perhaps did not support putting you in a leadership position. Do not discredit or belittle those who challenge your ideas. The mark of a great leader is one who leads by example, works with others to achieve results, and ultimately turns naysayers into supporters –who will help. This takes time…
  5. Have patience. This may be one of the most difficult things to master and use effectively. Even if you believe you have the greatest solutions, if no one is following, supporting or listening, you’ll achieve very little results.
  6. Grow a thicker skin. As a leader, you will never please everyone. Those who oppose your ideas may not always communicate gracefully or well. Do not take it personally. It is not worth the time or effort and will only make you appear immature and vulnerable if you do.
  7. Show some humility and compassion. You consistently place yourself above everyone. You are human just like the rest of us. The time for honoring yourself will pass quickly enough. Your self-aggrandizement just makes people hope that time happens as soon as possible.
  8. Consult experts on the issues. There are people who know better than you, since they have studied for years and have expertise that you lack on a myriad of subjects. They are in the best positions to advise you and you should follow their lead.
  9. Don’t delete information that does not support your programs. A case in point is the information on Climate Change being stricken from the government website. This makes you look even more like a dictator and someone who ignores scientific, proven facts.
  10. Stop Tweeting. These reactive statements about anyone who appears to oppose you makes you look immature and does not help your image at all. Refrain from these knee-jerk reactions.

The world is watching. Most of your constituents will not take the time to offer suggestions to help you succeed. Yes, you will get “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” letters. Most of these will do you no good at all. I am appealing to you directly, which is the approach that we instill in all leadership classes.

 

Very sincerely,

Cynthia Shon

President, Corporate Games Team Building

This letter was sent to The White House on 2/8/17