Like many around the world, I sit in a state of shock and downright abhorrence of the prospect of a Donald Trump US presidency. The fact that he “likely won’t win an election matchup” with the eventual Democratic nominee assuages the anguish little. He still has made it this far. And he has mobilized what can only be described as a mob of hatred and bigotry.
We can debate the reasons for his success in great detail. But at its core, his “secret,” if we can call it that, is the fact that Donald Trump provides simple answers to all our problems. Whatever woes we have in life, it’s not our fault. It’s somebody else’s fault. And those somebody else’s are entire groups of people, all painted with the same brush.
If you’re Mexican, well, you are a thief or rapist, according to Trump. Coming in and stealing jobs. The solution? Just build a big wall and all the problems are solved! If you are Muslim, well, then, according to Trump you are a terrorist. So the solution is simple: don’t let any Muslims enter the USA. Then everyone can be safe. Or, at least, so he says.
This is the essence of his success. He tells you that things are not your fault. It’s someone else’s fault. It’s this entire group of people that is the problem. Remove the people, and you remove the problem! It’s simple.
It also appeals to something that probably resonates with nearly every human being on this planet — a tendency to paint people with a broad brush based on some sort of “identity.” What they wear. What groups they belong to. What God they worship. It’s a long list. Take a look in the mirror and really evaluate yourself. Do you truly not have any biases against anyone based on a superficial identifier?
I bet you do. And it’s okay. It’s probably in all of us. And Trump plays on this human weakness and suddenly you have angry mobs ready to lynch protesters. He paints all protesters with the same brush: “Get them out of here, they are bad people.” How would he know what kind of people the protesters are? Simply because they stood up and shouted they are “bad people”?
If we accept some level of bias in all of us as humans, than the real question is, “What is your Trump Coefficient?” In other words, in the spectrum of human bias, how close are you to Donald Trump?
A coefficient of 1.0 means a person is precisely like Trump. He or she paints people with broad brushstrokes. Entire groups of people get put into a box defined by the “wise one” who can see through anyone and make an instant value judgment on a person’s character.
Conversely, the closer the coefficient gets to 0.0, moving from 0.9 and going down, the person has much less in common with “The Donald” and has reduced inherent biases.
If you remember your old math days, the Trump Coefficient is parallel to a correlation coefficient. Got it?
So what is your personal Trump Coefficient? This will tell you how open-minded you really are. How open to diversity you, in fact, are. And this has implications for business. What kind of team you can build. How inclusive you really are as a leader.
Let’s look at some examples.
I work in tobacco. I don’t personally use tobacco products, but I work in the industry. And there are, of course, opponents to tobacco use and this is totally okay.
There is one individual, in particular, in a health-based NGO, who constantly attacks any person in tobacco and any statement from a tobacco company, me included. This person, who doesn’t know a thing about me, paints me with the same brush he paints anyone in tobacco. If you work in tobacco, you are evil. You are a liar. You kill people. You can’t be ethical or honest in any way. You are a bad person and cannot be trusted.
It’s simple. If you have tobacco on your business card, then you are less than human. Done. Whatever you do in life, or what you have done, means nothing. The brushstrokes are made and that’s the way he sees things.
On a Trump Coefficient it’s a perfect score at 1.0 — nothing more than a Donald Trump clone wearing a white coat.
A second example: A graduate from one of the top schools is proud of his school and does admit “some” bias towards fellow graduates. When interviewing someone from his school, he tends to go easy on them. But from another school, he is much more disciplined and asks harder questions. At the end of the day, if a person passes, he will hire them, but admittedly he is harder on the grads that did not come from his school.
On a Trump Coefficient that’s more like a 0.5. There is a bias there. But at the end of the day, a mitigating factor is the fact he will hire a non-graduate from his school. Yes, the interview may be harder, but you can still get in. Because remember, in Trump’s world, everyone is painted with the same brush. There is no way out.
Final example: A manager is interviewing someone for a job opening and the person discloses that they are LGBT. The manager reflects for a moment. This is a qualified person who would do a good job. The manager thinks, “Well, I am not LGBT but this is a choice others can make and I respect this. A person’s private life has no bearing on their work in this company and they can make the choices they want to make freely as long as it does not impact the workplace. Net, they are qualified and the personal situation has no bearing. I will make the offer.”
On the Trump Coefficient scale this is down at the bottom, in the 0.1 range. About as unbiased and non-judgmental as one can get.
The sad fact is we all have a degree of Donald Trump in us. Some of us are high on the scale, and some of us are low on the scale. But we all have some level of bias in us. It’s part of being human.
The key is the degree, or the Trump Coefficient. The best leaders, and the leaders of the best companies of tomorrow, are going to be low on the scale. They are going to be inclusive. They are going to eliminate in themselves biases that have no bearing on the business. They will see people as individuals not as a representative of a given “tribe” that is all painted with the same brush. They won’t use religious doctrine to paint people into a corner.
Some of my dearest friends, among the best people I know, are Muslim. One of my best employees is transgender. I have single moms on my team doing an amazing job. Women leading the way and delivering superb results day after day. I see people from a wide variety of schools succeeding, from GMA or the remotest of provinces, people who worship one God or another, or none at all. I could not be more proud. And it’s no surprise this is a team that keeps winning. Because at the heart of it is attitude, desire, and talent. Nothing more. Nothing else matters.
And this is what Trump, and his followers, miss completely.
What is your own personal Trump Coefficient?