As first-generation, US-born Cuban-American who works with a lot of big businesses, I am often asked how I feel about President Trump. I won’t comment on my personal opinion or public policy. But personally, I believe that the “Trump Factor” has been really good for individuals as a whole. I see people all around me, of all political persuasions, in all kinds of leadership positions -- whether they are struggling against or supporting the President -- genuinely working to understand where they fit in.
What the Trump Factor has done is compel people to put themselves in the center of the conversation, which is exactly what I have been telling businesses and their leaders to do for years in the workplace. They are gaining greater clarity about how this change in DC impacts them, their families, their friends, people like and unlike them and society as a whole. They want to be aware of and fight for what they believe are the right or wrong decisions. They want to show their influence. They are looking in the proverbial mirror, tackling key issues and asking important questions about the future.
The Non-Complacent Perspective
This is a demonstration of accountability, and these conversations are astounding to observe considering most people didn’t vote for either or any candidate and thus only influenced and were accountable for the election passively. Simply put, many of them were complacent. They assumed things were working or would work themselves out. As a result, people lost trust and retrenched in their beliefs, associating only with those who were like them and failing to be open-minded about the issues that lay beneath the surface -- the things that people may have been thinking but did not dare to say.
If you truly want to bring these things into current conversations and face whatever uncomfortable truths they reveal in order to be open-minded about decision-making and its consequences, leaders must do these three things:
1. See beyond the obvious.
We are trained in school to be linear thinkers. That linear thinking gives us tunnel vision, forcing us to see only the opportunities that are in front of us. It closes us off to what lies around the corner and four or five steps ahead. When we see beyond the obvious, we can anticipate the unexpected, manage crises and adjust or adapt before circumstances force our hand. That’s how we elevate our performance with lasting significance and give our actions greater chance to withstand challenges. Performance isn't just about doing things faster, better or even smarter; it’s about making sure we are efficient and have the ability course-correct before acting. Failure to do so often creates chaos.
2. Bring others into the fold more quickly.
It’s impossible to time the market these days -- if it ever was. The marketplace is moving so quickly, and there is so much uncertainty that reacting with speed is not necessarily the best course of action. Instead, leaders should take a step back and bring others into the fold faster and let them have influence. But too often, leaders enable the exact opposite from their team members: complacency. That complacency leads to conformity -- closed-minded thinking that closes us off to opinions we simply do not like.
3. Understand that deciding to act is often the easiest part of leadership.
A colleague of mine recently asked me, "How do you draw the line between allowing too much influence so you can't decide and acting? How do you decide when to act?"
"Decisions are easy," I told him.
People get so caught up in deciding, but it is the consequences of those decisions that people do not think enough about -- what the decisions solve for. It doesn’t matter what side of the aisle you are on just like it doesn't matter what industry you're in, where your business is or how many people you employ: Leaders cannot just keep “doing” to set the tone. They eventually need to understand the whole and the interconnectedness of things. If we make decisions based on what we think is right without understanding the impact it has, then we are not making decisions that foster sustainable growth and improvement.
The open-minded evolution.
I have said this many times before, and it bears repeating now: Change today is too often enabled by fear, distrust and uncertainty. Change leads to substitution that slows progress down. This is why change and the open-minded evolution require distinctly different mindsets. Evolution leads to reinvention and growth. But you can’t do that when divisiveness overpowers one’s ability to be open-minded. Division perpetuates silos and victimization and will never lead to the sustainable change we seek.