Skip to main content

This column is part of Globe Careers' Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at

How could an outlandish business guy ever achieve the coveted prize of president of the United States?

Welcome to the new definition of shock and awe.

Story continues below advertisement

Despite the issues around racism, sexual assault, and politically incorrect remarks, he won. And he won big.

More than 50 per cent of white women voted for Donald Trump; many states flipped from their Democrat roots to side with the Republican agenda.

He didn't get elected because of his character as a human being.

He was not "loved" by people; he was not viewed to have the temperament to be commander-in-chief.

He was elected because he represented a conduit for a large segment of people in the United States who disavowed the status quo and Trump's opponent, who stood for it.

People wanted a tougher approach to national security; they wanted jobs.

He represented the "avenue of expression" for many people who felt unheard and who wanted a contrarian president who would shake things up.

Story continues below advertisement

They wanted change and Trump was the personification (with the bumps, bruises and flaws that most of us possess) of the desire to cast off the establishment and pursue a new direction. Effective leaders are like that.

Effective leaders intimately understand what their audience yearns for, and become a channel for people to express their ideas, values and priorities.

They focus on a limited number of priorities that resonate with certain people rather than promise to be all things to all people and raise expectations that can't be satisfied.

They have serendipitous timing. Their agenda is exactly what people want when they show up. They are the welcomed ingredient at the tipping point in public opinion and offer a viable alternative to the current direction.

They have an almost unbridled passion for what they believe in. They often go "off message" and rant; they find difficulty in containing themselves on an issue they are emotionally invested in.

They are flawed and make mistakes along their journey, but are forgiven because their drive and platform are overwhelmingly relevant and compelling to their audience.

Story continues below advertisement

They are "all in" and committed to winning; it is a constant in their communications and people come to believe they will.

They are simple and straightforward in describing the direction they intend to take. "We will build a wall ..." is clear and easily understood.

They are voracious learners who often "learn their way into leadership" as opposed to arriving on stage with the expected set of credentials and experience.

They are superb marketers. They target their energies, attract attention to their message and use social media effectively (at all hours of the day).

They never sleep.

Donald Trump will obviously never be described as a perfect leader for the job. But I have never seen perfection in the art of harnessing the beliefs of others and achieving remarkable things.

It will be an interesting ride.

Roy Osing (@RoyOsing), former executive vice-president of Telus, is a blogger, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead.

Report an error

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at