Hillary Clinton v Donald Trump: The Character Crisis

Donald Trump v Hillary Clinton

I find myself increasingly analysing the vicious character battle between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The two, both from extensive experience and diverse backgrounds, have gained significant media attention as of late. If the number of followers on the Trump twitter page were a country, they would rank in at 81, slightly behind Belgium. On the Clinton twitter front, she would rank in at 97th.

The Obama Trump saga has also unfolded with a sitting President of the United States taking aim at the Republican nominee. Donald Trump in the eyes of Barack Obama is “woefully unprepared to do this job,” and “unfit to serve as president.” The race appears so neck-in-neck that the candidates and their associates appear to be throwing everything at their opposition. But really, this leads to a serious question around ethics. Is this ethical?

“Complete phony.” – Bernie Sanders on Trump.

Bernie Sanders Hillary Clinton Donald Trump Meme

Throw mud until it sticks?

The nominees have aimed to reduce the credibility of their opponents instead of focusing on building their own. Is this because it is easy, or is it because it works? The outcome of the Australian Federal election would seem to suggest both.

“His real message is make America hate again.” – Hillary Clinton attempting to link Trump to the alt-right and white nationalists. “He is temperamentally unfit.”

Attacking the character of another requires no skill, no finesse, no strong leadership. Running for political office seems to be more about how low you can go to diminish the value of the opposition, than earning it.

“She lies and she smears, and she paints decent Americans – you – as racists” – Donald Trump on Clinton.

The picture we paint to all those nominated for anything is to play dirty. To those kids running for class captain, or Student Representative Council; to those businessmen and women running for board roles; to those running for political office. The message is clear. Don’t earn it, take it. And this message is a horrible one. Not only are we voting for those who reduce their opponent the most, but many of us are engaging in the same fight.

Leadership lesson

Wherever the Trump Clinton polls and votes land, it’s clear that America is unlikely to see a great leader as US President. Trump and Clinton denigrate each other, and don’t present a good value proposition for why they should be voted in. Aside from the ‘vote for me, because I’m not the other guy’ rhetoric.

Great leaders aren’t those who rely on the collapse of their opponents. They work on themselves, making sure they are trustworthy, authentic, and work hard to be their best.

Some of the most respected leaders of our time are known for breaking the norms to be more effective leaders.

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, dedicated $250 million to employee education. Many of these people will probably leave to pursue their chosen field. Alan Mullaly, former CEO of Ford, insisted on meeting and greeting front-line factory workers. This is, despite his fellow executives arguing that executives never do such a thing.

What we can learn from this is that great leaders don’t need to destroy their opponents like Sun Tzu advocates. They earn respect by thinking of others.

Images by DonkeyHotey and KAZ Vorpal.

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