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Diplomacy: An Essential Leadership Quality

    



    Donald Trump has struck a chord with many Americans who like his straight-talk approach to issues that matter to them.  While exciting some, he is simultaneously causing intense agony for others--especially in his own party.  As much as he's brought a freshness to dealing with topics in a direct manner--saying what some Americans have said in their homes, protest gatherings, and in town hall meetings--he has crossed lines in how he makes his comments.  Sometimes being too direct can have a counterproductive effect.  He turns some on and turns some off.  He gets cheers, and he gets jeers.  He draws some to him while alienating others.  We know this is to be expected for anyone running for political office.  A political leader simply can't satisfy all people.  He or she will always frustrate someone.  But Trump has created a dichotomy in his forward speeches by drawing high levels of adoration and mounting levels of animosity and hatred.  Here's why:
    One essential quality every great leader must possess is diplomacy.  Being direct is necessary and important in leading an organization or team.  People appreciate disposing of all the fluff and getting to the point.  But they also appreciate empathy and civility.  Comments without attacks and judgment are necessary to move negotiations forward in a productive manner.  Leaders who come across too strongly in sensitive situations are an immediate turn off, and discussions can stall.  Great leaders should be savvy enough to know when to push forward and when to pull back.  People like Trump need to be able to show that he can sit in a summit with other powerful leaders and not cause a war.  Diplomacy requires thoughtfulness and self control. There is no room for communications blunders in high stakes conversation--no room for childish name-calling, unfounded accusations, tantrums, and divisive speech.
    Here are three things a diplomatic leader does well:

  1. Remain aware of his or her surroundings so that communications and actions can be tempered to meet the situation.
  2. Recognize that timing matters in delivering news of importance, and patience is critical to making an appropriate impact.
  3. Consider tone, word choice, and body language when speaking on matters of import.
     Even if you don't lead a team, diplomacy is necessary in all communications.  Practice and master this skill for greater success in building professional networks and relationships.

   

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