For quite some time, Donald Trump’s message has been gaining support amongst the American people. Despite several verbal miscues and apparent character gaffs, his “Make America Great Again” slogan, “tell it like it is” tone and willingness to stand up and fight has won over several (albeit soft) supporters.
In a nutshell, Americans seem to be starved for leadership. They have been flocking away from anyone they considered a politician and towards anyone who demonstrates leadership. And leadership is exactly what Carly Fiorina used to trump Donald Trump at last week’s CNN debate. Here’s are the 3 leadership lessons she used.
Fiorina was a fighter, but maintained her respect for others.
Like it or not, many Americans have been attracted to Trump’s “in your face,” “I won’t back down” attitude. While many admit it to be a bit brash, they openly admit that they would rather have brash than soft. We want leaders that we can believe in, who we know will stand in the face of adversity.
Fiorina has answered the bell – and upped the ante. She refused to back down to anyone – even Trump. But she did so in a respectful way. She was firm and willing to stand up in the face of adversity. She did so without stooping to personal attacks. Just look at her simple response when she was practically begged into entering into a mud fight with Trump about his personal attacks on her.
“I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.”
That was it. Simple, to the point, and refusing to stoop to Trump’s level.
Leaders are strong in the face of adversity but use their strength in order to build up others and assert change, not tear others down.
Fiorina was direct, but backed it up with specifics.
In order to lead, you must communicate where you’re going. The best way to do this is with a simple, direct message that paints a vivid picture of what it will look like when you get it. Trump has been rising above the political gamesmanship by cutting the political talking points and painting a picture of prosperity and greatness. Regardless of whether folks agree with all of his positions, his vision has resonated as a simple, direct, and compelling vision.
Fiorina has cast her own, similar vision, but has backed it up with a plan to get there. Consider the contrast between Trump’s and Fiorina’s strategies on dealing with Russia and President Vladimir Putin. Whereas Trump painted a picture of Russia once again respecting American power and he and Putin “getting along,” Fiorina hit hard and backed up her answers with a strategy for getting to that point.
“What I would do, immediately, is begin rebuilding the 6th Fleet,” she said. “I would begin rebuilding the missile defense program in Poland. I would conduct regular, aggressive military exercises in the Baltic states. . . Russia is a bad actor,” Fiorina confidently asserted on the debate stage, “but Vladimir Putin is someone we should not talk to, because the only way he will stop is to sense strength and resolve on the other side.”
Leaders cast a clear vision of where they are headed and back it up with an achievable strategy that will get them there.
Fiorina was firm, but convicted by a moral code.
The foundation of leadership is integrity. Integrity is defined by consistency of character. It is doing what you say, and saying what you do. It is the integration of all aspects of your life and it is the foundation of character that allows others to not only believe in where you’re going, but also believe that you will do the right thing.
In contrast to Trump, Fiorina made clear that she was personally convicted by a moral code that guides her life. She refused to stoop to the same political correctness that Trump has turned his back on, but went far beyond his talking points in order to convey her deeply held convictions and the life events that helped form them. Fiorina directly challenged her opponents to see their moral shortcomings and face the moral decay that they have fostered.
Leaders are guided by a moral code of what’s right and what’s wrong. They hold true to their underlying beliefs in the face of adversity.
In a nutshell the difference between the leadership shown by Trump and Fiorina is character. Whereas Trump’s is continually in question, Fiorina seemed to put an exclamation point on the point that she is full of it. She has positioned herself as the epitome of humble confidence. She demonstrated that she’s willing to fight, but only for a just cause; that she’s inspired by her vision for America, but is not delusional in believing that she can figure it out along the way; and that she’s convicted by a moral code that will hold her true to what she believes in.