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United States Presidential Elections: Five lessons
Prasanth Nair | Mumbai | Monday, 14 November 2016

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America has elected a new leader and has taught organisations some important lessons. However, this is from a pure ‘learning’ point of view and not from the perspective of personalities or politics. 

As Donald Trump readies himself to take on the role of the President of the United States, here are some learnings for organisations from the recently held presidential elections.

1. Limitation of research and analytical tools: With the best of academia, institutions and companies available, it is a bit surprising that the forecast was not only wrong but significantly off the mark. Does it illustrate the inability of the scientific tools to capture the random variables that influence the process? Or does it reflect researchers’ bias – where data captured is driven by what is wanted or hoped for. The lesson for organisations is to be careful in interpreting findings and using the same as a basis for actions.

2. The world is a mix of flatness and unflatness: Thomas Friedman’s best-selling book, The World is Flat, explains the process and benefits of globalisation. But is globalisation opening up wounds in different parts of the world? Are there significant number of people getting affected? Recent trends in the United States and Europe seem to suggest a strong drift towards ‘de-globalisation’. How would this work for global organisations? Is there a message for all of us to be more sensitive towards these factors, especially when we deal with cultures and subcultures?

3. Is experience seen as an asset or a liability? The United States’ electorate had a way of looking at this – and they preferred someone with no administrative experience to someone who has lots of experience. Organisations need to understand the importance of experience in different roles. Are we over emphasising the same? Is it restricting new thinking? Is experience necessary to ensure effectiveness? If so, what is the optimal level?

4. Your future employee may not fit in with a standard template: By now, we know the relationship that Trump had with the Republican Party. Organisations will also have employees who do not fit in with the standard template. How do they relate with such employees? How are expectations going to be defined and what will the transaction dynamics be?

5. Bringing people together: After the election results, Donald Trump reached out to all —through tone and content — in a very elegant speech. Similarly, Hillary Clinton was graceful in defeat and President Obama was the true statesman. The learning here is that , even though there might be differences on the choice, once the leader is decided, the entire organisation needs to support her/him and help in the transition. On her/his part, the leader’s agenda should be to include everyone in the journey ahead.

I am sure all of us will be wishing Trump a successful tenure and hoping that relations between India and the United States soar even higher. With that, I am also hoping that these learnings will help leaders and organisations succeed.

(The author is managing partner and country head, InHelm Leadership Solutions.)

© 2016 HR Katha

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