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On being President without being presidential

As a professional business communicator, I’ve worked for President Donald J. Trump.

Well, not for him exactly. But for his type: the entrepreneur who takes the leap of faith with an idea, shepherds it to success and guides it into the future. But also one who can lose perspective. 

My experience of supporting a “Trumpian” C-Suite resident skews my vision of the current Chief Executive somewhat. I’ve seen it. I’ve worked under it. I don’t like it, and I don’t think it’s the best tack, but I “get” it.

When speaking (and presumably, planning), the President doesn’t always seem interested in details, consequences and options. For better or worse, the communication style is: “Do this – because I’m telling you to – and keep moving,” 

I’ve managed under this kind of leader. I’ve celebrated when their authoritarian communication style worked out; held my breath when its success was hanging in the balance, and launched a number of crisis plans when it failed miserably.

Chances are, if you’re at the top of the business food chain and committed to a strict, one-direction information flow, your communications team has done the same.

If there’s a takeaway to citing the myopia that can affect business (or politics) it’s this: Listen to your underlings. You may not like it (you may even resent it), but it’s possible that their viewpoints can make a good idea better or call out a bad idea aborning.

Dislike the President’s communications style? Just make sure – in removing the plank from your own eye before pointing out the splinter in another’s – that you’re not conducting yourself in the same manner.

Dan Weckerly is an experienced public relations professional currently counseling a number of companies local to Central Pennsylvania. He can be reached at dweck140@gmail.com.

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