Looking like a leader versus being one

There is a saying about leadership. The better leaders tend to deflect credit to others, the worse leaders tend to assume credit even when it is not due. Think about this as you consider various leaders.

One leader in the news is known as a narcissist. He is on record as saying he alone can solve our problems. He has said  that no one knows taxes better than he does maybe in the history of taxes. He has said no one knows ISIS better not even the generals.

He has beaten on his chest saying how great a job he is doing when most observers see chaos and incompetence. Yet, he controls the message to his followers and says he is being treated unfairly.

He would not be the first leader to take advantage of photo ops, but this man lives a life without substance. He is all about smoke and mirrors. He is all about appearing to be a leader. He is not about being one.

Leaders have to deal with the truth and not bend it to fit their view. How can someone solve problems when they don’t know what they are or what caused them? How can someone lead when their history is one of self-service and not helping people? How can one lead people who he has taken advantage of his entire life?

This leader looks the part. He is successful  and wants people to know it. He stands in front of airplanes as successful people have airplanes. He has his name on everything as his name represents success. The dilemma is it is all for show. His business career is spotty. His mentor taught him to never admit mistakes and to sue everyone. He has had over 4,000 lawsuits in his career.  And, he has trouble admitting his mistakes. It is always someone else’s fault.

A leader does not do these things. There is another leader who did not look the part. He took over after a great, popular leader had died. He almost lost his reelection. He is known for two things. He said “the buck stops here” meaning he owned the problems. He is also viewed as one of the best presidents. His name is Harry Truman. We all know the name of the other guy.




13 thoughts on “Looking like a leader versus being one

  1. We had the pleasure of touring the Truman Library a couple of years ago (our first presidential library). What an amazing time in our history. I left with a great admiration for the man and his presidency. It’s hard to imagine (I don’t want to even try) what a Trump library would look like. Sad.

    • Janis, Truman had to make some of the toughest decisions and some were not popular. But, he never backed down from accepting responsibility. This is in direct contrast to our current President who is a man of little conviction and blows like the wind. Keith

    • Erika, excellent point. Thomas Wells (or it may be a Welch) worked for him for years and noted that here is a man running for President who has little interest in knowing what the job entails. His utterance of “who knew healthcare was so complicated” is evidence of this as the answer is most everyone else knew. Keith

      • I meant “leader” not “lead” … sorrry.
        Anyway, yes that was such a proof and you are right. It is not about what he knows but what he is willing to know for the sake and benefit for the country and its people…. which actually includes the rest of the world. Because you can never have your country blossoming when you cut the world out!

      • Erika, this may be viewed as the period where America ceded its position as a global leader in democracy, climate change science, and human rights. I do not feel much comfort with this fickle and untruthful man at the helm. Keith

    • Hugh, given his history, I agree with you. When he was filing one of his several bankruptcies, he finagled a way to keep his yacht, as he saw this as symbolic of success. Mind you, the man was filing for bankruptcy for one of his businesses and was close to personal bankruptcy but cared about his yacht. Keith

  2. The difference between this ‘leader’ of whom you speak is greater even than the difference between day and night, and in any comparison, not only Truman, but every past leader in this nation, comes out far ahead. It is as comparing poison ivy to any flower in the world …

  3. Dear Keith,

    Now that Janis has mentioned President Truman. Both he and DDT came into office not knowing much about foreign policy making. One however had the habits of a leader, humility, the ability to learn from others, the ability to accept responsibility for mistakes, the real caring of what was best for this country and its peoples. Yet, DDT would probably view President Truman as a loser.

    One was truthful to a fault, the other is a compulsive liar.
    People forget but President Truman did his part to help create the United Nations; he established the multi-billion dollar Marshall Plan after WWII; he supported and recognized the State of Israel; he oversaw the creation of NATO. He did get things done.

    Ciao, Gronda

    • Gronda, your stark comparison is dead on accurate. A man with humility versus an egotistical bully. It still amazes me that we elected this man President of the United States given his history of taking advantage of people. Keith

  4. Note to Readers: I have written before about the trend that CEOs of multi-business companies are more introverted. Boards value competence and understanding of the drivers of a business. While a CEO must be able to communicate, being a more extroverted person is not required. In Susan Cain’s book “Quiet” about successful introverts, she noted that some introverts learned to become occasional extroverts when they needed to be -one was a teacher, one was a lecturer, e.g. Truman and Eisenhower fit this bill. Even Obama, who is a great speaker, is very reflective and per Warren Buffett is the best editor of information he has ever witnessed.

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