This has been an election season that many would like to forget. With all the vitriol, aggressive politicking along with high-profile ideological warfare, the average American is overloaded and stressed.
Of course, the stakes are extremely high and worthy of our attention. In spite of some of the charades and incessant media overload, there are many important leadership lessons we can glean:
1. What is hidden will come to light. Between the embarrassing Wikileaks made public on Hillary and the embarrassing Trump video with Billy Bush, the words of Christ jump out when He said, "There is nothing hidden that shall not be revealed" (Luke 8:17). This shows that leaders need to have integrity in private if they want favor and influence in public.
2. Style, not substance, often moves crowds. It often amazes me how many people will vote for the next president based on who has the best sound bites during debates. Instead of looking at the big picture of the candidate's overall policies and life work, they make their decision based upon an event that may always depict truth, policy and substance. This is why the media provides "fact checks" for each candidate after every debate, something most people never take the time to study. This shows that leaders even with great substance have to work on their persona, and collapse policy into simple sound bites, which can influence public perception.
3. High-level leaders have to function under great stress. One of the things I admire about both candidates is their ability to manage stress and keep going even after devastating news, public embarrassment and major setbacks.
Truly, all effective leaders have to learn to function at a high level while under stress.
4. Many people appreciate authenticity even if it is raw. I heard someone say that if Trump had acted more mature he would easily win the election because the American public distrusts Hillary's sincerity. Albeit, one of the selling points of Trump is the fact that he is so raw and is not a professional politician, even if he says things that are insensitive and unwise at times. I am not personally condoning his many insensitive statements. The lesson here is that people will trust a leader more if they sense authenticity, even if they are politically incorrect in their approach. People are sick and tired of phony politicians and leaders.
5. You must prepare for the moment. Before the first debate, Hillary prepared and Trump bragged about not preparing. Consequently, Hillary handily won that debate and gained a huge edge in the polls. Leaders need to adequately prepare for key moments and not just coast upon their abilities.
6. You need strong allies. Although Trump's appeal has partially come from not being an establishment candidate, he may have gone too far alienating the Republican base, which compromised his infrastructure.
Consequently, while Hillary has two former presidents campaigning for her (Bill Clinton and Barack Obama) Trump doesn't even have the Republican speaker of the house on his side, which also gives Hillary Clinton a great edge. Effective leaders cannot lead alone, they need strong allies to accomplish their objectives.
7. Great leaders need a strong inner circle. While Trump has gone through several campaign managers and advisers, he actually got more on point for a time after Kelly Ann Conway came on board. Although he is his own man and doesn't listen entirely to anyone! Many believe that when he listens to his advisers he acts much wiser. Scripture says, "He who walks with wise men will be wise, but a companion of fools will be destroyed" (Prov. 13:20).
8. The greatest strengths and weakness will manifest under pressure. When you squeeze a ketchup bottle the contents will come out. Whoever and whatever we are will come out when we are under pressure.
Whether it is Donald's ranting tweets in the middle of the night or Hillary's reference to Trump supporters as "deplorables," both candidates have made unwise statements when under pressure.
9. You have to be "all in" to win. Both candidates have shown remarkable sacrifice, perseverance and persistence during a grueling process that started almost two years ago. Both are obviously in it to win it.
Effective leaders have to be willing to pay the price and go all the way in order to be successful.
10. You can achieve your goals while damaging your reputation. Both candidates have further alienated approximately half the nation and damaged their reputation during this campaign season. This teaches us that a leader can achieve their goal while hurting their reputation. Many wonder if that is really worth it. Consequently, whoever gets elected is probably going to limp into office without a clear mandate from the majority of Americans. This is unfortunate. The ideal for leadership is to be like Jesus, who grew in favor with both God and man (Luke 2:52), something both candidates have fallen short of doing.
11. Your friends and foes are revealed when you're most vulnerable. In spite of Trump's many public challenges, former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani has stuck by him "like white on rice" while other notable republicans have distanced themselves from him (take your pick out of the dozens who have abandoned Trump). Leaders will only know who their true friends are during the heat of battle, when they are most vulnerable, not during times of peace and prosperity.
12. Stay true to your core principles. Both candidates have generally stayed on point regarding their macro policy positions. Agree with them or not, both have generally attempted to stay true to their core beliefs in spite of intense national polarity and opposition. They both understand that to change their views would be to alienate the base of support that gave them their platform to run. Effective leaders need to remain true to their core principles if they will achieve their goals.
13. Good people have different perspectives. I have close friends and family who are in three categories, some are for Clinton, some are for Trump and some are "never Trump" conservatives. All these good people believe they have compelling reasons for their positions. This election season has taught me that it is possible for very good people to have very different perspectives. Consequently, good leaders should respect and understand the views of their opponents.
14. Civility is important. This election season has demonstrated how valuable civility is, not because the candidates have modeled it but because their lack of it has made many of us yearn for it!
Effective leaders need to learn how to disagree with their opponent while exhibiting humility and respect. One of the highlights of the three debates for me was when the moderator of the second debate ended the event by having each candidate say something positive about the other candidate. After both complied and said something they admired about the other, the atmosphere was elevated to civility. The Donald and Hillary even shook hands while leaving the podium, something they refused to do when entering the debate. On the other hand, the way they both insulted each other at the Al Smith dinner was a disgrace and was a bad example for the young people of this nation. Good leaders understand that being civil with their opponent is not a sign of weakness or agreement on the issues.
15. You will never please everybody. As mentioned earlier, whoever wins the election will enter office knowing that almost half the nation will be unhappy. Even the best leaders in history had their critics. Paul said that if he would please man he could not be the servant of Christ (Gal. 1:10). Leaders primarily motivated by a need for affirmation will be wishy-washy, have a lack of focus, and likely only experience a modicum of success.
Joseph Mattera is an internationally known author, futurist, interpreter of culture and activist/theologian whose mission is to influence leaders who influence nations. He leads several organizations, including The United States Coalition of Apostolic Leaders (uscal.us). He also has a blog on Charisma magazine called "The Pulse." To order one of his books or to subscribe to his weekly newsletter, go to josephmattera.org.
For the original article, visit josephmattera.org.
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