Editorial: A Leader’s Influence

The most unbelievable allegation made by Donald Trump in the wake of the documented escalation of violence in our country since he took office is that his words and example have had nothing to do with it.  Pointing away from himself as he always does, just yesterday naming the press the culprit, and calling them in a Tweet, “The true enemy of the people” is his attempt to deflect us once again. But to falsely allege this is a ludicrous attempt to exonerate himself.  The Jewish community in Pittsburgh has called out Trump’s charade. I do too.

His denial is a remarkable statement, given his self-avowed designation as a genius who knows more about things than experts do.  Well…he fails the “genius test” on this one, for his attempt to distance himself from what’s happening shows he does not understand or grasp a basic principle of leadership: leaders are influencers.

One of the fundamental roles of leaders is to influence others.  Leaders speak and act precisely to guide others to emulate their words and deeds. By their words and witness, leaders give permission for their followers to enact what they’ve seen and heard.  In fact, leaders expect their followers to go and do likewise.

Trump is either clueless about this, or he practices selective intelligence about it–believing he’s an influencer by going out on his unceasing round of rallies to keep his base stirred up, but then denying that his rhetoric has anything to do with the way his his base behaves afterward.

But the fact is, he can’t have it both ways, and it is a bald-faced lie against “Leadership 101” for him to do the one, but deny the other.  Of course, his rhetoric is having an influence; every leader’s does.  Trump is trying to have his cake and eat it too…but it’s moldy cake.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
This entry was posted in Editorials. Bookmark the permalink.