How Trump “trumped” the election

Nov 10th, 2016



Whilst it may not be the result that many people thought it would be, how did Donald Trump become President-elect?  Is Donald Trump secretly a master strategist and a political genius or is there something else that we’ve all overlooked.

People make decisions based on their emotions and the extent they feel understood. The target audience that Trump appealed to felt their needs were not being met and sought change.   In a recent Harvard Business Review of the World’s Top Performing CEOs one of the top CEOs of a large multi-national was asked about how his leadership style had changed over the years with the evolving corporate culture within his organisation   He responded by saying:

 “I’m gradually learning to be less rational and more emotional. We need to appeal to our employees’ emotions to help create an environment where they can innovate.”

Motivating people and generating a sense of spirit is an essential part of a CEO’s role. Our emotions are an enormously powerful influencing tool when it comes to motivation and making decisions.  So being able to tap into our own and those of others can have ground-breaking effects.

If we put that into the perspective of the US election, we see the rational and strategic mind-set of Hillary Clinton pitted against the straight talking and emotionally charged campaign of Donald Trump.   Like a company that has a great Unique Selling Point and bases its strategy and success around it, Donald Trump has developed his own ESP. He has an Emotional Selling Point and he has used this in the election to great effect including his conciliatory victory speech.

Irrespective of your views on Trump, he influenced many people whose ideals matched his and won.

So how can we in our own environments be successful in our everyday lives when we are seeking to influence others?

How many times have you sat in on (or dare I say delivered) a bland company presentation? How many times have you been pitched to by someone who is simply reciting a series of statistics? As a Leadership Coach, I often work with clients before they go into a major pitch.  I take them through an exercise which helps take the focus away from them, their USPs and numbers, and into the heart and minds of the stakeholders. Once they have been through the exercise with me, they often completely change their pitch, which to date has resulted in a 100% success rate.

I’ve also been on the receiving end of an emotive pitch recently having spent time with three individuals from marketing companies, who were pitching their services to me. Two of them had done their research, were well informed and very proactive with their questioning. The third however, a smaller company responded by using creative hand-written images to show how his business model fitted around our company.   He asked questions that revealed some subjects that I felt passionate about including a bursary we offer. The conversation about causes we felt strongly about demonstrated shared values and created an emotional connection.  This ingredient, coupled with his preparation and competence, was a key factor in why they won the pitch.  I reflected on how my decision had been influenced greatly by this.

When you allow your Emotional Selling Point to come to the forefront, you invoke an emotional response from those to whom you are speaking.  Powerful neurochemicals like oxytocin and dopamine rush into their brains, endorphins are produced and people not only connect with you, but are motivated to take action on your behalf.

So next time you’re in an important meeting where you need to sell a product, an idea, your company or yourself, connect with the individuals in front of you. Ask good questions to gain an understanding of what they value most, listen intently and respond to the responses you receive.