Is it really so bad to have a business mogul as president?

By Stephen Gibbs

Donald Trump’s image as a street fighter offering a voice to the disenfranchised propelled him to victory in the US election. But beyond the artifice of political stage management, it just might be possible that an executive business brain will cut through Washington’s House of Cards.

Trump has never held public office so he’s a total newcomer to the Washington bear pit that scuppered much of Obama’s agenda. His experience as a business mogul, however, comes with some transferable skills. Executive and global leadership are wholly interlinked and so there are some important lessons to be learned from business. This can be seen in the way that the crisis in America’s auto industry was handled.

Global governance, political and economic systems have become the dominant debate since. But executive leadership was also key.

The impact of Ford Motor Company’s US$12.7 billion 2006 and General Motors’ US$79.6 billion 2007-08 losses were overshadowed by worldwide economic collapse soon after.

Disaster in America’s auto industry, staved off only by US government bail outs, has been a result of senior leadership’s failure to react to global signals. The emerging trend for downsizing from big, gas-guzzling sports utility vehicles to smaller models, driven by the 2003-08 oil price hikes, were reacted to too late. Interpretation requires mature executive leadership minds, with a desire to embrace both data analysis and creative solutions.


image-20161110-25058-15hosm4Ford’s old leaders failed to react to global trends. EPA/Andrew Gombert

Any real embrace of subtle global trends must be rooted in extended dialogue between government and industry, not one or the other dictating. Trump’s brutal, old-school bruiser mentality might be sorely tested by this. A strong hand may be needed when faced with existential threats. But if a business executive persists with a sovereign will, this can end in significant damage.

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About the Author

stephengibsStephen Gibbs Senior Lecturer in Leadership, University of Huddersfield.





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