There must be a possibility – I don’t know the present odds – that Donald Trump could achieve his goal to become president of the United States of America.  That’s a democratically elected leader serving some 320 million citizens, many of whom, as is the way in democracies, will feel instantly disenfranchised.Trump

But unlike the vast majority of politicians at this level Donald Trump can draw substantially from his leadership abilities as the head of large enterprise. Would this career experience give him an advantage in turning things around: attracting Democrats, shall we say, to become more engaged with his vision, values and policies?  Tough in politics, tough in business too.

As McKinsey has shown recently with Decoding Leadership: What really matters, an unresolved question for any business, at least, is what kind of leadership behaviour should organisations encourage (let’s not forget one rather stubborn metric, that some 70% of the workforce is to some degree ‘checked out’ – from not fully engaged through to actively disengaged)?

Mckinsey’s research here is impressive. First they swept through a variety of leadership development programmes to assess the vast range of topics and issues tackled by such programmes. From this and other sources they compiled a list of 20 distinct leadership traits or behaviours regarded as positive.

What followed was a survey of 189,000 people across 81 diverse organisations world-wide to record how frequently certain types of behaviour were evident in their firms. Finally these organisations were sorted in order of leadership performance.

What emerged from all this work was that high quality leadership teams displayed just 4 of the possible 20 traits first identified.  Furthermore, these 4 behaviours alone accounted for 89% of leadership effectiveness:

  1. Solving problems effectively
  2. Operating with a strong results orientation
  3. Seeking different perspectives
  4. Supporting others

No one would be surprised by #1 and #2. But #3 indicates the significant value, as the UK’s Engage for Success puts it, from capturing the employee voice. And similarly, #4 points to the effectiveness of showing authenticity and a sincere interest in those around them; displaying integrity and building trust.

Mckinsey has reached the conclusion that these 4 provide an effective core set of behaviours for any firm wanting to invest in high performing future leaders. They don’t say whether the Trump Organisaion was a participant in the survey.

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