Good leaders recognize when changing circumstances call for action.
I always find it amusing when the political media try to analyze why changes are made to a candidate’s campaign structure. The storylines are always predictable: It’s a “shakeup” in response to “bad poll numbers” or “internal strife” or something along those lines, helpfully explained by people who have never had leadership positions in their lives.
So when Donald Trump made changes to his campaign’s leadership structure this past week, you could easily guess that it would be reported in that exact manner.
But if you want to understand why such things happen, a political reporter is not the person to ask. You’re better off asking someone who a) has run for president and understands what the rigors of a campaign are like; and b) has been a CEO and understands how executive-level decisions are made.
Do you know anyone like that? Why yes! You do! You know me. (Or at least you’re reading my writing at this moment.) Before I ran for president, in case you didn’t know, I cut my teeth as CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, as a board members of several well-known corporations, and as a high-level executive within the Pillsbury Company – including a major regional leadership post within its Burger King division.
So I’ve been there, and I know exactly why Donald Trump hired Steve Bannon to be his campaign’s CEO, along with Kellyanne Conway as campaign manager. It’s not because of poll numbers or disarray or anything of the sort. It’s because Trump is a smart and experienced leader, and he recognizes that as your task evolves, your organization has to evolve with it.
As his campaign has grown, Trump has tried not to add staff too quickly. But as the campaign continues to evolve, he needs to make some changes. That’s what a CEO does. You don’t just sit there as a situation evolves and do nothing about it. CEOs constantly think about how to make things work better. The ones who ultimately succeed are constantly doing that. You’re never really satisfied with how things are going.
The reason Donald Trump the CEO realized he needed a different CEO is because he is a CEO and understands these things – and he’s also the candidate. When you’re a presidential candidate, your 24-hour attention is on speaking, going to fundraisers, listening, giving interviews . . . it’s nonstop. And it doesn’t allow you to also be the CEO.
That’s why he brought in Steve Bannon. Bannon can focus on the three primary responsibilities of the CEO so Trump can focus on doing the job of the candidate.
The CEO’s primary responsibilities are developing the strategy, planning the execution of the strategy and ensuring you have enough resources – both financial and human – to do so successfully.
You can already see this playing out in a lot of ways, although you wouldn’t know it from the media sniping. They’re wailing about the campaign not having made many TV ad buys yet, and about not having staff on the ground in certain states. But those things are happening as we speak. I happen to know – just because Georgia is where I live – that quite a few people got hired in Georgia by the Trump campaign just last week. Ad buys are starting.
It’s only August! There’s such a thing as acting too soon and missing out on maximum impact. I’m sure Hillary likes her mid-summer lead in the polls, just as I’m sure Michael Dukakis enjoyed his. Does anyone remember how the Dukakis presidency turned out?
Exactly. Folks, I am not saying winning will be easy, and certainly not that it’s guaranteed. But when you hear the media talk about certain things happening and why, you’d be wise not to assume they actually understand what they’re talking about. Unless they’ve been there, they don’t.
I have, and I do. And now you do too.