Chapter 1: Strategic Leadership of Donald J. Trump

strategic leadership

To better understand the strategic leadership of President Trump, it will be useful to reflect on some of the historical writings and ideas of Carl von Clausewitz and Niccolò Machiavelli, two great thinkers on political philosophy/strategy, as well as the leadership qualities of some of the greatest American presidents. In more recent times, we will also refer to the founding leader of Singapore, the late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who was well known and respected for his strategic leadership. In a brief span of fifty years, he transformed Singapore from a small trading port to one of the most advanced countries in the world. As we will soon discover, good strategic leaders also have visionary strategic plans.

Machiavelli argued that for princes or political leaders to remain in power, they need to be ruthless enough to be feared and kind enough to not be hated.

While political leaders should possess all the qualities expected of great strategic leaders, they also require a few additional qualities. To be able to win elections, they need to be excellent communicators and campaigners. They must be able to tap into the sentiments of the voters and carefully articulate their vision and policies to win over the trust and confidence of the people. They must not only be able to defeat their political opponents but also protect their own reputation and policies ruthlessly against unscrupulous attacks or smear campaigns. They must possess boundless energy, have the ability to respond to unexpected crises as well as the flexibility to negotiate with their opponents to either build consensus or achieve a compromise.

Overall it could be summarized that good strategic leaders are trustworthy, courageous, determined, intuitive, comprehensive and decisive. In order to successfully govern, they need, at times, to be ruthless in defending their reputation and policies, and must be prepared to use coercive force when necessary.

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