January 15

What We Can Learn From The Democratic Debates


First, let me begin by saying that this is not a political article. There is no message here or to tell you how to vote in the upcoming election.  This article is merely an observation of leadership or lack thereof.  Observation perhaps would be in all of our best interest, to any of us in top leadership positions.

It is no secret that Democrats are struggling right now. Struggling to pick a front runner, and struggling to figure out how to beat Donald Trump and the Republican Party.  It makes you wonder why.

Are You Portraying the Right Example?

Trump is not exactly a popular President or candidate. Sure, the economy is humming, and he has probably done more in his first term than any President in history. But he is abrasive, is known to put his foot in his mouth, makes several voters feel uncomfortable with his unpredictability, and oh yes, there is the impeachment issue.

So why are the Democrats struggling? Well, I had been wondering that too, until last night. There was so much to learn in that debate, from what the candidates said and did not say. The messages that came across are some we should all pay attention to when leading our companies, our employees and our customers.

3 Leadership Strategies We All Need To Learn

  1. Unity – before the debate started last night, the infighting between Senators Sanders and Warren began to undermine the leadership effectiveness of all the Democratic candidates. Warren accused Sanders of saying that a woman cannot win the election, a point which Sanders denied. Either way, these two, Warren and Sanders, were known as allies; pointing fingers and accusations at one another cause doubt in the minds of voters. Look: as business leaders, we have disagreements, issues, and challenges with one another. But if we want our supporters to feel comfortable and trust us, we need to keep those issues among ourselves and present a united front. Democrats forgot the Trump is their opponent, not each other.
  2. Alignment – the Democrats’ message is one of diversity and economic equality. They believe in inclusion, and that somehow the rich have gotten an unfair advantage. But you only have to look at that stage last night to see a field of white candidates, only one who was young, and all of whom were by their standards, wealthy. As leaders, we must understand that alignment through our actions, and our message is vital if we want people to follow us and trust us.
  3. Message – I learned from the debates last night that the Democrats are against Donald Trump, but I am not quite sure “what they are for” is genuinely viable.  As a chief executive officer or sales leader; it takes more than being against something to create believers. It takes a plan, a strategy, and a compelling message to encourage people to follow you.  Voters, just like your team members, are smart people. They are looking for a candidate with a message that resonates with them, and one that is logical enough to work.

Good Leaders Never Stop Learning

This election, if nothing else, will be an interesting one, and I am sure there will be several more leadership lessons we can learn along the way.  Politics is rarely a contest of the most qualified or experienced candidate; it comes down to the person and the party who can move people to action.

Politics is like business that way. If you want to lead an effective business, build a sustainable company, and retain top talent, learn and pay attention, watch why and how other leaders fail, and use these lessons to lead your organization more effectively.

Voted Top 15 Business Growth Experts To Watch, and Top 41 Motivational Speakers, Meridith Elliott Powell is a business growth strategist who helps her clients learn the techniques they need to turn uncertainty to competitive advantage. An award-winning author, Meridith’s latest book, with co-author Mary Kelly, Ph.D., is Who Comes Next? Leadership Succession Planning Made Easy.

*Photo credit: “CNN / Youtube Democratic Debate on TV – 3” by inju is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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