Donald Trump is the President-elect of the United States of America. If one is to believe some commentators and the more extreme ends of media hype, this represents the opening of the gates of hell, the collapse of the rule of law, the disintegration of the ‘special relationship’, and economic turmoil and disaster that will last for years.
I’m no Trump supporter, but the media uproar that follows these events, just as it did around economic turmoil in Ireland and Greece, the Scottish referendum on independence, the Brexit vote, and even the downfall of an England football manager (or losing to Iceland), is out of all proportion with the actual impact it will have for most people.
What is the reality of Trump’s election?
Politicians always overestimate their influence. The media and the city elite live in a bubble that is out of touch and has little significance to the majority of the population. That is why they keep getting their predictions wrong whenever there is a vote, just as they did in June in London, and as so many did in the US presidential election.
The inconvenient truth is that societies aren’t really run by politicians or the city and stock markets. Yes, they have an effect, but it is businesses and public local services that actually shape society and affect the lives of people at a real and local level.
Whichever party wins an election, whoever sits in the Oval Office or Number 10 Downing Street, whatever the economic forecasters say, and whatever the stock market does, most of us will just carry on living our lives and dealing with the challenges of each day.
We have no choice. The kids still need to be taken and fetched from school. The dinner still needs to be cooked. People still need to go to work. Life goes on. In reality, there is a truth about politics, the news and the economy that would shake politicians and the media to their very core if only they knew or could grasp it…
Most people don’t really care.
They’re too busy trying to deal with the stuff that really matters. Like raising their families and paying the bills. Like who’s going to win ‘Strictly’ (Ore, if you ask me). Like the relationships with their colleagues at work every day, and the work they need to get done.
How does this apply to business leadership and management?
We should relate this kind of thinking to our roles as leaders and managers of others. Within any organisation, change is a reality. Whether or not we personally agree with the decisions that are made outside of our control, it is our responsibility to continue performing to the best of our ability, and supporting others to do so too.
Equally, it is our duty not to create or spread hysteria, and to calmly and rationally consider the extent to which changes impact us and those around us. Sometimes responding to a situation too much is as bad as not responding at all.
While we must be strategic and keep our eye on the bigger picture, we must also remember that it is often the little things that really matter to people in professional contexts. Things like the atmosphere within the office, the level of autonomy that is given over certain tasks, and the kind of personal rapport you build with team members, can make or break someone’s happiness at work.
As business leaders and managers, we have a far more direct influence on people’s everyday lives than politicians ever can.
Are you using yours responsibly?