The Leadership Style of Donald Trump

The Leadership Style of Donald Trump

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Donald Trump is known for his eccentricity and unconventional businesses practices. He exhibits an unconventional leadership style. Donald Trump started early to develop his personal brand, this is exhibited by every piece of real estate Mr. Trump owns. Every casino, building or golf course has his name on it. He is eccentric, powerful, but yet he makes very smart business decisions. He is also a risk taker. All these business skills have made him a very well recognized business leader, and one of the nations most known billionaires. Donald Trump has appeared in many magazines, has written a couple of books, and even gotten his own show on NBC called “The Apprentice”. But what makes Donald Trump successful in almost every endeavor he takes on? Was he born a leader? or did he just become a great leader. There are certain characteristics common in all leaders. Some of those are values, skills and cognitive abilities. Mr. Trump exhibits all of these traits. If this is what has made him as successful as he is, why are certain leaders not able to achieve his type of success? Perhaps he has something extra that has propelled him above everybody else. Everything that he touches seems to turn to gold. Donald Trump’s leadership styles have made him rich, powerful, famous and known through out the world. This paper will examine some of those leadership styles.

Leadership traits
     “Leadership research has not revealed a single trait that is possessed by all successful leaders, but a number of characteristics have been identified that are common to many of them”(Timpe, p.30, 1987). Leadership studies have not yielded one common trait possessed by all successful leaders, but they have identified a number of characteristics that are commonly found in successful leaders. And also displayed by Donald Trump

Verbal Fluency
This is not only having an extensive vocabulary, but also being able to speak in a manner that inspires and encourages. Being able to command attention from your audience is very important. When Mr. Trump speaks people listen. He is able to articulate and sell his ideas to you. He has had to do a lot of wheeling and dealing trying to acquire real estate, thus being able to persuade people by simply speaking is essential.
Ability to Solve Problems
     Problem solving is another characteristics of effective leaders. You have to be able to care of situations when they arise.

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Mr. Trump is very much a problem solver. One of the biggest problems he has had to overcome was being 9.2 billion dollars in debt. That is one serious problem that Donald was able to overcome through hard work, keeping focus on his goal and maybe a little bit of luck.
Awareness of needs
     The effective leader understands the unstated and stated needs of his followers, and how to satisfy them. For example, all of Mr. Trump’s 20,000 employees rely on him to keep their jobs. Construction workers rely on him to keep getting new contacts for new buildings.
     Being flexible can help you adapt better to organizational needs with minimum distractions to the followers. Mr. Trump is very flexible when it comes down to running his business. He has an open door policy. If any employee has an idea they can always talk to him about it. If Donald likes it then he implements it.

     You do not have to be a genius to be an effective leader, but it helps to have the confidence from your followers. They want to make sure you are capable of doing the job.
Donald Trump attended and graduated from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He acquired lots of intelligence there, but most of his knowledge came from working with his father.
Accepting Responsibility
The ability to accept responsibility is a characteristic of many successful leaders. Being the leader of a large company like Trump Organization requires a lot of responsibility. Which Mr. Trump has no problem handling.
Social Skills
If you are fair, diplomatic and overall liked by your followers you will be more valued. This will in turn lead to better performance of the group as a whole.
Personal Power
     One of his most obvious business styles is his need for personal power. Donald Trump owns some of the most prime real estate in New York City. And to let every one know he plasters his name on everything he owns. Donald Trump has properties in New York, California, Chicago, Florida, Las Vegas, Canouan Island, Seoul and Toronto. And future developments in Ft. Lauderdale, Phoenix and Brazil. Donald Trump is always looking to expand and get new properties. The more companies he owns, the more money he makes. This in turn makes him more powerful. Sure having power is what personally satisfies certain individuals. That is their sole motivation. “Power has been defined as the capacity to produce effects on others or the potential to influence others” (Curphy, Ginnett, Hughes, p.107, 2006). Power is usually associated with the leader, but it actually is a function of all the followers, leaders, and the situation. With power comes influence. Influence is a change in a person’s attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors as a result of a leaders Influence tactics. Influence tactics are the actual behaviors that are made to change a follower’s attitudes, behaviors or beliefs. Donald Trump certainly has a lot of power. He is able to motivate his employees simply by his own personal work ethics. Mr. Trump is known for working a seven-day workweek. His employees know this, and are not aggravated when they have to work on a Saturday. Because he is also probably working himself.

Expert Power
Expert power is also another one of Donald Trump’s characteristics. He is a master of real estate. There is probably no deal he can’t make if he wants to. This in turn influences his followers. He knows every trick in the book when it comes to buying and selling prime real estate.

Legitimate Power
Donald Trump also has legitimate power. This type of power comes from your standing in the organization. Well, when you are the number one person running the show and have the final say in anything you do, that is total power.
Charismatic leader
     Charisma is a special quality amongst certain leaders. “Charismatic leaders can create excitement.” Sellers, P. (1996). Not all of them possess it. The leaders that do have it are successful. Followers feel personally attracted to a charismatic leader.
Followers trust the correctness of the leader’s belief system; they feel affections toward the leader and willingly obey the leader. Donald Trump is a very charismatic leader. He is able to convince his followers that his ideas will be successful. He has an uncanny ability to convince people to go along with his plans. Charismatic leaders can make complex ideas into simple messages. Charismatic leaders relish in risk. Donald Trump is a big risk taker. Some of his risky ideas have made him millions of dollars. Risk takers relish on risk. They might feel empty without it. Donald Trump thinks big. He would rather invest in a great building than a dilapidated duplex. With the skyscraper if you make it successful you make a lot of money. ”and if you don’t hit it, what’s the difference between losing $100,000 or hundreds of millions of dollars? Either way, you’ve lost, so you might as well have really gone for it.” (Trump, Mclver p.35 2004). This is the kind of mentality that has made Donald Trump a rich and successful businessman.

     Donald Trump is a Transformational leader. He puts extreme amounts of passion and energy into their projects. He doesn’t like to go into a project if he is not going into one hundred percent. Transformational leaders wholeheartedly trust their employees. Donald Trump likes to promote from within. One example of this is his vice president of operations Matthew Calamari. He started as a security guard with the Trump organization. Mr. Trump saw something special and gave him a promotion. He is now highly regarded in the Trump organization. Another example is one of the employees Mr. Calamari hired. He started of as bodyguard and is now a vice president. John Totulo started of as a booker and now has the dream job president of Trump Model Management. “Thus transformational leaders posses good visioning, rhetorical, and impression management skills to develop strong emotional bonds with followers.” (Curhy, Ginnett, Hughes, p. 423, 2006.) All these success stories would not be possible if not for Donald Trump’s ability to have vision, and recognize employee’s potential.

Transactional Power
     Transactional power is defined when leaders and followers are in some type of exchange relationship to get goals met. In the case of the Trump organization that can mean anything from a simple good job, a raise, or a promotion. The employee’s are exchanging hard work and dedication for recognition and advancement.
Path-Goal Theory
     The effective leader will provide the availability of valued rewards for the followers. This is the goal. Then he or she will help them find the easiest and best way of getting there. This is called the path. Through out this theory the leader exhibits certain types of behaviors.
One of those behaviors is Directive Leadership. This involves telling the followers what to do, how to do it, and when it needs to be done. Also what he expects from the followers. Mr. Trump is very much into Directive Leadership. He calls all the shots and is very clear in telling his employees what he expects from them. Another behavior exhibited by leaders in this style is Supportive Leadership. These types of behaviors include having friendly interactions, being courteous to your employees and remaining open and approachable to employees. “Everyone who knows me knows that I keep the door to my office open. It’s symbolic of the way I choose to think, and it’s the way I operate.”(Mclver, Trump p. 31, 2004.) Donald Trump really believes in being accessible to his employees. If they ever have an idea, or just want to talk to him they are always welcome to do so. Donald Trump also can be characterized as having Participative Leadership skills. He has meeting with his employees to talk about problems they are having and to ask for their input. The last characteristic associated with Mr. Trump and his Path-Goal Theory is Achievement-Orientated Leadership. These leaders set challenging goals for their followers. And they always expect their followers to perform at their highest possible standards.
A perfect example is when Mr. Trump got a proposal from one of hi stellar employees. It was not to his usual standards and mentioned to the employee that perhaps he might be the problem. The employee was deeply insulted and turned in a spectacular revision that was much better than the original. The follower just needed the right motivation and he was able to produce up to his previous abilities.
Situational leader
     Donald Trump is very much a situational leader. One category that falls under this style is task behaviors. This is defined as the extent to which the leader gives out responsibilities to a group or individual. Obviously Mr. Trump did not get to the top by not having any help. He delegates work and expects you to perform. And he also lets you know what he expects from you. Another characteristic of Situational leadership is having relationship behaviors. He listens to his employees and is always encouraging them. Also how much feedback the leader gets from
his followers.
Normative Decision Model
     The “Donald” can also be characterized as using the Normative Decision Model theory of leadership. This theory was designed to measure how various factors relayed to the leader, follower and situational factors affect the degree of subordinates participation and ultimately in total group performance. Some factors to look at when implementing this theory is the Decision Quality. This is defined simply by saying if the decision has rational or objectively determinable
“better or worse” alternative, the leader should go with the better choice. Along with this model comes the Autocratic Process. This is where the leader makes the decision with all the available information he has at that particular time. Donald Trump fits into this decision style. He is the one who ultimately makes the final decisions in his organization. Decision acceptance is another
characteristic of this model Followers will accept the decision as if it where their own and not merely comply with it. Donald Trump makes most if not all the decisions for his organization.
Every accepts his decisions because he uses their input when making them. In making these decisions Mr. Donald Trump uses the consultative process. He shares his problem with certain individuals in the group, without bringing them all together then he makes the decision with all the facts.


Donald Trump is a very charismatic leader. He is one of the most well known billionaires. He uses different styles of leadership with the same end result: Success. He is never in it for the money, but for the love of the work. Perhaps this is why he is so successful. If you are in it for the money, and you are unhappy with what you are doing then you will fail. Donald Trump has somehow figured out the recipe for success. And he has written books to try and teach it to others. He has an unparalleled work ethic the likes that we rarely see in a billionaire. He could retire now and not have to worry about working for the rest of his life. Yet he continues merely for the love of his work. He is also a very straightforward person. He tells it like it is. Definitely a person to admire.


Hughes, L, Ginnet, C, Curphy, G, J. (2006). Leadership: Enhancing the lessons of experience. New York: McGraw Hill.

Sellers, P. (1996). “What Exactly is Charisma?”Fortune, 7(4) 22-24.

Timpe, A, D. (1987). Leadership. New York: Facts on File Publications.

Trump, D., J, Mclver, M. (2004). How to get rich quick. New York: Random House.

Trump, D, J, Schwartz, T. (1987). The Art of the Deal. New York: Warner Books.
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