I’ve been giving considerable thought to how the president has been internally handling his unusual move from CEO to the presidency.
Unless you have been a CEO, or have worked in the corporate world, you cannot fully understand the difference for Donald Trump, transitioning from the head of his family business to serving as president of the United States.
After six months, I have to believe that he has become extremely frustrated with the gauntlet of running the unwieldy federal bureaucracy.
My curiosity began with the obstruction he faced with the Democrats over the simple confirmation of his cabinet, followed by his inability to get his own party to come to terms on a health insurance bill.
I am reminded of a story former President Harry Truman predicting how frustrated Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower would be when he made the move from five-star general of the Army to the presidency. “He’ll sit here, and he’ll say, ‘Do this! Do that!,’ and nothing will happen.”
CEOs normally set the vision, the objectives and establishing short and long-term goals of his organization. They monitor revenue and expenses to assure alignment with the budget in his role of overseeing the corporation’s financial management.
Trump had the ability to hire and fire and promote and demote individuals in his organization. He knew the importance of having the right person in key positions.
As president, he has set an agenda for his presidency, but he doesn’t have absolute control over the House and Senate and government bureaucrats that he had with Trump business enterprise employees.
Recalling that he had convinced voters that he was uniquely qualified to change Washington, one has to be believe he was surprised that government cannot be run like a business.
In my position in two corporations during my business career, the one thing I heard loud and clear many times was that the CEO doesn’t like surprises. That’s true in all corporations.
While that usually referred to financial results in the businesses, it certainly wasn’t limited to that. Bad news doesn’t improve with age, we came to realize.
Top notch CEOs know that information they receive is often filtered for various reasons, but if it is learned that the numbers presented were “cooked,” or you were hiding a personnel matter, you didn’t want to be the one responsible.
There have been many stories about President Obama’s advisors who regularly hesitated to give him bad news. A general in the Southern Command once instructed an intelligence briefer not to give the president bad news.
President Trump has been criticized for having his daughter, Ivanka, and her husband Jared Kushner as advisors. Surely, they level with him. And bringing on his close friend, Anthony Scaramucci, will help.
Much has been said about the president’s “demand” for loyalty, as if it isn’t a desired quality, but CEO’s, unlike Congressmen, view it as value-added. In the Washington swamp, it’s common for staffers to move from one party member to another. It’s also common for career civil servants to cross party lines.
He has had major successes with the early accomplishments of several cabinet members, who are following his policy desires and eliminating costly regulations.
During his campaign, Trump proudly stated that he was not a politician and occasionally points that out today. After six months in office, he is learning the ways of the Washington swamp, but don’t look for him to accept them. He doesn’t suffer fools with excuses. Congressional recesses must really irritate him.
Even Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, who knows Trump pretty well, seemingly wants him to join the establishment. She criticized him for not mounting a persuasive message to sell the positives in the Senate health insurance bill. Does she have to be reminded how President Obama’s sales pitch of “you can keep your doctor, and you can keep your insurance plan,” came back to haunt him? It’s the job of Congress to write and sell the bill.
CEO’s occasionally get involved in selling products and services, especially with large companies, but traditionally this is the job of the marketing sales staff. The president would be making a mistake if he pitches a health insurance bill; he should leave that to the bill’s authors.
Noonan was also critical of the president’s refusal to work across the aisle on the bill. He asked the Dems to join the GOP effort, but he recognizes that Schumer & Company will not accept a repeal of ObamaCare. And surely, Noonan has been around long enough to know that compromising with the Dems is always a losing proposition.
CEO Donald J. Trump was elected as an outsider with business acumen by voters tired of politics as usual. While he has learned a lot about dealing in “the swamp” in his first six-months in office, don’t expect him to set aside 45 years of business experience to become one of them.