It sounds far-fetched. No boss, no other person, could be like Donald Trump. Surely?
Put aside the office he holds, the profile he has built for himself and the hair and look at his approach. Is it possible that your boss is a mini Donald Trump? I would say so. Look hard.
I have spent the last 17 years working with dozens of organisations in the UK, Europe and further afield; seeing Chief Executives, Ministers, Managing Directors, Partners and other senior folk up close. It has not always been pretty. Often, it has been pretty ugly.
There is something about the pressure and the expectations of leaders in business that can – not all the time by any means – but can, and does, drive some unhealthy behaviours. Like all reality TV stars, Trump shows us these under a huge magnifying glass, with the touch of the caricature artist.
His desire to divide and rule – separating colleagues and making them compete with each other for the leaders’ attention, affection and support. His desire for personal loyalty – to him directly, not the organisation the colleagues is employed by. His willingness to criticise others in private – and sometimes in public – regardless of what he has said to their faces. His obsession with media coverage and his personal profile and standing – badgering his communications team about their failure to get his message out. His thin skin but outward confidence and bravado. His drive and long working hours and sense that his work and his success at work defines him. His way of passing on his stress and pressure to you – shifting it down the management line like a ticking pass the parcel. His ugly way of treating people, especially those who are “not onboard”. His indiscretion. His poor standards of personal conduct. His many marriages. His lack of consideration for the feelings of others. His single-minded focus on him and his agenda, regardless of the cost to others.
Sound familiar? I could see many, many examples of this behaviour in my mind’s eye as I typed this. I can see the faces of many Chief Executives, Partners and other business leaders I have worked with during my career. I cringed a little when I wrote some of this. Some of it reminded me all too vividly of specific moments in my career. Some of it made me shudder.
So is Trump a one off or is he just like the many bosses we have all seen and had to endure? Granted, an extreme, all-in-one version of that bad boss or damaged leader, but a version of it all the same. We flinch and recoil from Trump not always because he is so bad, or so hard to believe, but because he is holding up a mirror to our real life experience. He is a reflection of too many leaders in business and that is the real ugliness of Trump; that he is not alone.