Forgetting, for the moment, the two principals in the 2016 presidential election and laying aside their politics, are there any leadership lessons to be learned in the conduct of the campaign? In other words, was the outcome informed by the differing leadership practices of the two campaigns as well as by the political realities such as platform, policies and the "like-ability" of the candidates? I believe the answer is a resounding YES. Here are leadership lessons from the 2016 Presidential Election.
1). The value of the leader's work ethic cannot be overstated.
It may well be that his victory was the result of his incredible schedule. Trump out worked Hillary. Hate him. Love him. Mock him. Dismiss him. Say whatever you like about Donald Trump, his appetite for work from the opening gun of this campaign was absolutely voracious. Multiple campaign appearances each day and appearances in every media market that would open to him. He was ubiquitous on TV and available to the press on a daily basis. In my life I have never seen a harder working presidential candidate. In fact, I wondered how long he could keep up such a blistering pace. All the way to the White House seems to have been Trump's answer.
Here is the lesson: there is no substitute for work. Many in today's America think, to their detriment, that talent is the number one variable in success. It's work. A word to entrepreneurs, start-ups and church planters; your talent may not outshine your competition but you can outwork them.
2). Never take victory for granted.
Sports teams, businesses and politicians begin to lose the minute they think it's "in the bag." Banish that phrase form your leadership vocabulary. Clinton believed the press. She thought it was hers and that she could hide out, let Trump damage himself and waltz into the White House unscathed. Never pay attention to the pre-game press. Play your heart out on every single play no matter how far ahead you are. I know you've heard, it isn't over till the fat lady sings. Here's the second verse of that hymn. You haven't won until the votes are counted.
3). Never forget your market.
Hillary let the election become about herself and Trump. Trump made the election about the market. He spoke to and energized a constituency that felt forgotten by both parties. He took his product straight to the market, and he never ever quit selling. Day after day Hillary's surrogates attacked Trump. Day after day Trump spoke to the people. He knew who his market was and he never forgot them. Whether you're selling toothpaste or starting a church, remember, line your message up with the market you're after and never let them think you've forgotten them.
Hillary's message was, "I'm with her."
Trump's was, "I'm with you."
Work hard. Play hard to the last second of the game. Never forget the market.
Do those three and you may not win every time, but you can beat lazy, entitled self-absorbed competitors even if they have more money, more experience and a bigger team.