Want Government to Function Like a Business? Act Like One

Trump’s provocative style plays largely on the fears and skepticism of a voting citizenry that feels disenfranchised and powerless. It’s a far cry from the enlightened era of Management 101 as we enter the latter half of the 2010s.
Trump

A new boss naturally creates a blend of excitement and trepidation. Workers are curious, supervisors are nervous and everyone involved is filled with hope for glorious success while simultaneously suppressing fear of a long, agonizing road to failure.

We’re still getting to know our nation’s new boss following Donald Trump’s election victory as the president of the United States in November 2016. But unlike most new workplace leaders where we scour the internet and email friends of friends seeking any shred of insider information, we know a lot about this CEO’s past. If he were set to take over your organization, you’d be well within your rights to shake your head and question the board’s collective sanity for making this hire.

On the plus side, there’s a great chance business could boom. He built a multibillion-dollar business, and that obviously curries favor with the board and shareholders. Like him or loathe him, he nevertheless is one of those rare personalities with an innate ability to command a room — an essential trait for negotiating. It’s also hard to argue against his ability to hammer out a deal — or at least surround himself with people possessing such talents — providing a lucrative windfall for himself and his organization.

With the good, though, comes the bad. Beating down small businesses with a barrage of lawyers and lawsuits; skirting tax laws; using bankruptcy as a business best practice; shaming employees in front of the media; making intimidation and mistreatment his leadership calling card.

Sure, some executives are all about the bottom-line results. We’ll deal with the lawsuits when they’re filed. But that’s no way to run a business and doesn’t belong in government, either.

Trump’s provocative style plays largely on the fears and skepticism of a voting citizenry that feels disenfranchised and powerless. That’s presidential politics in 2016. But it’s a far cry from the enlightened era of Management 101 as we enter the latter half of the 2010s.

It’s employee-centric, all about collaboration, celebration and rewarding workers’ achievements. To put it in millennial comic-book parlance, it’s Teen Titans over Titans of Industry, Avengers instead of Aggressors.

During the past decade or so — really, since the Great Recession tailed off — there’s been a growing movement among business leaders to build better workplaces. Multiple studies show there are financial perks when diversity, recognition and honesty are built into an organization’s DNA. If people truly believe that government should be run like a business, then here are your cornerstones.

Companies are recognized for their efforts to create noble, respectful workplaces. There’s even an organization bearing the name Great Place to Work that certifies businesses as having high-road cultures. Government, too, should be a great place to work. And one that works for all its people.

Where does that start? At the top. Many leaders recognize that building and sustaining a fair, collegial workplace entices and retains the best talent. But if the CEO isn’t buying in, then it’s not happening.

As leaders, we have the responsibility to set an example. Employees follow our lead.

The toxicity of a boss who’s an arrogant know-it-all jerk filters through the organization. Dress down some underling next time the boss passes by. That’ll impress them.

I don’t expect the White House to make Fortune’s list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For; but I can have the expectation of a boss who is firm, honest and treats his people fairly.

I should expect the same from our country’s new leader. Surprise me, President Trump. Show your new population that you can run this nation like a business and successfully and simultaneously unite us. Your new employees are watching. And anxiously waiting.

Rick Bell is editorial director of Talent Economy‘s parent company Human Capital Media. To comment, email editor@talenteconomy.io.