Competitors Can Bring Out the Worst or the Best in Us
Donald Trump’s atypical presidential campaign and improbable win has shocked many –not only in the US, but around the world. Scholars and pundits will spend countless hours dissecting and analyzing, but there are three immediate lessons to be learned by leaders.
- Never underestimate the competitor
Hillary Clinton’s election was seen by many as inevitable and the natural next step in the march of history. Donald Trump was seen as a vulnerable candidate who continued to create self-afflicted problems for his campaign. However, Trump was a savvy competitor, relentless in his pursuit of the goal and ultimately was successful. Just because you’ve been successful does not mean you can ease up. There’s a reason many books have been written on disruption.
- Your product must be more desirable than the competitor’s
While both candidates had champions and rabid fans, in many ways it seemed to be a race to the bottom. Both candidates registered net negative ratings in double digits, indicating they were viewed negatively at historic levels. Ultimately, more voters found more to like in Trump than Clinton.
- Listen to your customers and employees
Countless articles were written about how Trump would flame out. Many expressed disbelief and dismay at his candidacy, then shock at his win. It turns out he had his fingers squarely on the pulse of the majority of people. He tapped into the anger and frustration of a silent majority, the desire for change and jobs. He was very direct and specific about solving these issues and fixing the broken political system. Trump’s directness and boastful claims were in direct contrast to what is typically seen in a political campaign.
It’s important to keep your ears to the ground, and give your customers what they want, not what you think they need. It’s also important to have clear messaging and not deviate from it until necessary.
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