The Unfiltered Leader Theory: Will Trump’s Leadership Heal or Harm Us?

Gautam Mukunda’s article in the Harvard Business Review explores his “unfiltered leader” theory, now about to be tested with a Trump presidency. It’s well worth reading. He writes:

nov16-09-621867242-1200x675“Leaders like Trump — outsiders who are not supported by the established elites — generally have high variance in their performance. They do things that no one else would do, and because of that, they do either very well or very poorly. Their impact is maximized when the constraints on their freedom of action are minimized, and that’s the situation Trump will be in until at least the 2018 midterm elections. Republican control of the House and Senate, presumably soon to be followed by the immediate appointment of a conservative Supreme Court justice, will give a radicalized Republican Party the unified control of the government that it has not had since 2007. Thus we should expect the Trump administration to initially have an almost entirely free hand in shaping government policy. This worries me deeply, but it also creates an opportunity for the country, if Trump chooses to capitalize on it.”

Mukunda is a Democrat, and is more worried than hopeful (spoiler alert), but his thoughts are balanced and relevant as he discusses the potential of inexperienced leaders, based on his book,  Indispensable: When Leaders Really Matter, about outsider and inexperienced leaders and how and when they take power. That book is a study of outsider presidents; one of its central arguments is that the United States is far more prone to electing such leaders than any other developed country. He writes: “Donald Trump could have stepped from its pages as the ultimate example of an unfiltered leader.”

It’s an interesting exploration based on his research, honest about his concerns but bold in presenting positive possibilities as well. Read more….



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