Global Leadership Blog

What Business Leaders Can Learn From President Trump’s Mistakes

There were mixed feelings about how President Donald Trump’s first trip abroad went, last May, and business leaders can learn from the President’s mistakes.

President Trump and his team said they felt good about the trip and that it was a success. Other sources said he made enemies out of US allies and built relationships with those who might not be in our best interest politically.

In this first trip abroad as President of the United States, President Trump showed his lack of global eloquence and made three grave mistakes.

1. The pre-meeting.

Every C-level executive knows that the discussions leading up to the formal meeting are critical to ensuring those meetings go well. You don’t just walk in and surprise everyone with what you’re going to talk about.

If Trump had met with European leaders ahead of time, one-on-one, discussed his position, they might have understood, agreed to disagree, and talked about a new way forward.

The idea of revamping policies and agreements to reflect a more current need – even a self-serving one – doesn’t have to ruffle feathers or be a dramatic surprise. If agreeing to disagree is the worst that comes out of it, you still have your allies and your credibility.

Going in and blind-siding the people with whom you are meeting is an excellent way disrespect your allies. You run the risk of having zero chance of buy-in. And, you may potentially push anyone who is already on your side away.

2. He didn’t study his counterpart.

If you were going to visit a potential business partner you’ve never met in another country, would you book a flight, fly there, arrive and expect to get down to business right away without a warm up? Of course not!

Anyone with business sense knows you have to do your homework–find out about the person, the company, the societal context, even the political situation before you go.

Something as simple as knowing who won a popular sports event in that particular city or town can build bridges. A global mindset is essential to conduct global business successfully!

3. He overlooked an essential rule: Collaborate, don’t clobber.

Today, you’ll get a lot further in the world with asking and listening rather than speaking and telling. Research shows the best leaders – listen – and take their counterparts’ thoughts and feelings into consideration.

When we come in trying to show power, dominate, and rule, we might win short-term (or think we did), but in the long run that doesn’t build the relationships we want or need to sustain, long-term success.

It takes two to have a relationship. It’s important to think about others’ and their perspective. Having a global mindset — an awareness of and openness to a diversity of cultures — helps.

Without understanding the complexities of the world, you are doomed to business failures.

To assess your global mindset, check out the global mindset inventory or contact me.

To read the other two ways to improve global meetings, click here.

Photo Credit: Jegas/123RF


Melissa Lamson

About The Author

Melissa Lamson, Founder and President of Lamson Consulting, is an author, consultant, and speaker who accelerates the business expansion goals of today’s most successful companies by developing global mindset, refining leadership skills, and bridging cross cultural communication. More About Melissa Lamson