The election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States of the America is one political development that has left the world in shock. Some categorize it as the biggest upset in political history, while others consider it as nothing less than a travesty.
Whatever people may think, nothing can remove the fact that the decision to elect Donald Trump to the presidency was completed using the democratic process to which the western world subscribes.
This presents a lesson for the world that the exercise of democracy could sometimes throw up the unexpected. If the rules of the process are established, agreed upon and accepted, then it means that there can be no changing to the rules midstream, conveniently or after the fact when the hope or wish of the people is not realized.
This problem of acceptance is one that permeates most institutions. Within the trade union movement, it can be a sore point for those who cannot achieve what they set out to accomplish. Whilst these persons uphold the democratic voting process as the ideal, they are quick to question the voting process which allows for a majority vote, when their proposal, resolution, idea and/or suggestion is defeated.
There is often some merit in any proposal, resolution, idea and/or suggestion which has been made. It however does not follow that it will be accepted by the majority. While Donald Trump, seemingly to a large measure, may have not been the candidate of choice, it would seem that his utterances and promises resonated with a large sector of the population. It would appear that he would have marketed himself well. The political platform he mounted may not have been the most gracious, but at the end of the day, it was about what the people wanted to hear.
This was and has been the norm for some time. That is why charismatic leaders emerge. They may not be the best equipped for the job, but because they can command mass appeal, and this is all that matters.
A similar thing obtains in the trade union movement. It is not always that the move is to elect a leader who is well equipped for the job by whatever standards the individual trade union organizations set. The sway in the election of a leader is sometimes driven by the canvass for an individual, who has the ability to speak the loudest, longest and who can develop a fan club or following.
Is this the best criteria to be followed in electing a leader? Should the individual not demonstrate a willingness to listen to others and take time to understand? Are members looking for a leader who seemingly knows it all, is often condensing and who has a habit of dismissing, talking down to people and sometimes insulting them? Is it best to have a leader who opposes everything and wants to change everything in one swoop?
Is the hunt on for a leader who is not loyal and committed to anything that does not give him an advantage personally or otherwise? Is it good to have a leader who does not respect the decisions made by past administrations and is prepared to tear down for the sake of doing so?
Is it wise to have a leader who believes that he/she must have their way all the time? If these were traits of the Donald Trump’s campaign, then the lesson to be learnt is that these are not the ideals or practices that should be supported or encouraged by those who seek to lead an organization.
Having addressed what ought to be accepted and avoided, the point must be reinforced that the decision making of the populace in a national election is to be respected; with the same also applying to any organization.
If there is any advice that can be shared with those who have to vote at any level to select a leader, then it is recommended that rationality of thought is engaged in any decision-making exercise. It simply cannot be left to emotionalism. It would be folly to vote for an individual because of their pigmentation, class, creed, religion, gender, age and the like.
If there are three important things which ought to be taken into consideration, these would be knowledge, experience, and maturity. Of these three, immaturity poses a dangerous threat to realizing successful leadership. Ignorance mixed with immaturity will spell disaster for emerging leaders. Being misguided, combative and becoming complacent based on what is perceived rather than on what exits, are things that mature leaders would be quick to avoid.
If we hope to achieve and maintain what has been attained in the labour movement, then the membership has to be educated of the need to have enlightened, visionary and inspired leadership, which will go beyond the realm of promoting self-interest. It is for the labour movement to find and invest in such leadership.
(Dennis DePeiza is a labour management consultant with Regional Management Services Inc. Visit our Website: www.regionalmanagementservices.com Send comments to: [email protected]urf.com)