If almost all you do is criticize the opposition, then it doesn’t make you a good leader

Those who are still inclined to reflect upon the Trump administration, including the damage that it left in its wake, may also want to consider the criteria that makes a good leader. In order to understand this important role it’s important to distinguish leaders from managers.

Each have distinct roles and responsibilities. In short, the leader develops a unique and realistic strategy for the organization, and the managers implement it. This presupposes that the leader (or the team that assists him or her) selects appropriate managers. And when things fail the leader cannot simply ignore the criticism, blame the manager or fire them, but takes responsibility. Sure we can excuse a handful of the leader’s picks for managers, but if the leader is continuously hiring and firing managers, one has to look much deeper including the ability and skills of the leader (and their subordinates) to make appropriate decisions that will affect the health of the organization.

I don’t have to tell you that Trump’s modus operandi both before the presidency and during it was to take pot shots at people whom he perceived to be his enemies, blame others for his setbacks. But this either seemed to go unnoticed or minimized by his followers and sycophants. Both saw Trump as someone imbued with superhuman powers.

Although there are lots of reasons why Trump came to power, but two of the most important included his ability to spin a believable bubbameister as a self-made billionaire, that many of his supporters lapped up, and his persistent criticism of Obama and his administration which resonated with many Americans.

Trump is not alone in this respect. Many leaders of organizations, and of political units no matter how small, whether we’re talking about the United States or elsewhere are neither good leaders nor managers. They often occupy these positions by default. And for good reason. Few of the competent people want the position. But it’s clear that Trump was a poor leader. A leader cannot base his or her agenda on principally tearing down the competition. He had no vision of a better future and no strategy. And when it came time to deal with one of the major crises of this century, (the ultimate test of a leader) (COVID-19), Trump stumbled and fell.

This brings us to month number four of the Biden administration. With 37 percent of the American population having been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and mask mandates fading away (we’ll see how this works out), an infrastructure bill that in the waiting, we can probably say that both Biden and his administration demonstrated thoughtful and competent leadership and management.

But if we look across the aisle to the current Republican leadership we see Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy floundering.

And no amount of rhetoric coming from either of them is righting a sinking ship. Neither McConnell nor McCarthy have a clear vision of where they want to take the Republican Party, and this country. Their only mission appears to be criticizing Biden, his administration and the Democratic Party, and putting legislative roadblocks in front of Democrats. McConnell did that for the eight years that Obama was in power. And as the Republican party slips into the ideological wasteland, for the time being at least, it appears that it is up to Biden and the Democrats to chart the future for this country.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore
“Kevin McCarthy” and “Mitch McConnell”