Is Trump’s Management Style of North Korea Correct?

From Aararat's Workplace Conflict Resolution Consulting Series

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By Dr. Kevin Orieux

What’s the best management style for addressing the posturing of North Korea?

Politics is a lot like pro sports.  We can all play armchair quarterback or coach from the comfort of our living room La-Z-Boy.  Everybody who doesn’t agree with President’s Trump’s management style over the recent North Korea nuclear posturing believes they have a better idea.  Just like professional sports, however, it’s easy to be critical of the person calling the shots, when we don’t have to walk in their shoes, or feel the gravity of the decisions.

So what is the best management style for North Korea?

If you’re reading this, then you’re probably in management.  More likely, you’re in senior management. While you may not be the Commander in Chief, you may very well be the Chief Executive Officer.  So the question about North Korea and it’s nuclear test program is, in a relative way, right down your alley.  If you have an opinion on what to do about North Korea’s nukes (even if that including nuking North Korea) it’s because you’re thinking about the problem, not from a Military perspective, but from a Management perspective and it begs the question:

How do you deal with a potential threat to your company’s welfare?

Isn’t that exactly the question that President Trump is facing?  Except it’s not about a threat to the welfare of a corporation, it’s about the threat to the welfare of a country.  And not just a threat to American homeland security, it’s a threat to any other country that’s an American Ally which falls within striking distance of North Korea’s missile range.  So how do you strategically address this kind of threat? 

It’s a question of management style. 

The style most of us in senior management begin with is to delegate the problem to subordinates.  We let the department head, office manager or regional manager deal with the posturing of non-compliant employees via some sort of negotiation.  Kind of like calling on the Secretary of State.  But if the threat continues, or if the threat escalates, or if attempts at negotiation fail, then what happens in most corporations is that action is taken from higher levels of authority.  Before we get too critical of Mr. Trump’s tweet referring to Rex Tillerson’s attempts at negotiation to be a ‘waste of time’ perhaps each of us in senior leadership should see if there is some sort of impediment in our own armchair view of things, before we attempt to do ophthalmologic surgery on the President and criticize his view and vision.

President Trump makes a valid point when he rhetorically asks: “Being nice to Rocket Man hasn’t worked in 25 years, why would it work now?”  Mr. Trump then makes a statement that is posturing in of itself: “Clinton failed, Bush failed and Obama failed.  I won’t fail…Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done.”

Any of us who have carried the burden of responsibility for the health, welfare and security of our people have had to deal with threats to our corporation, either externally or internally, on many occasions: it’s part of the job and it comes with the territory.  The time comes when we need to step up and address threats head on – it’s what our people expect of us if they are going to believe we, as their leader, have their best interests at heart.

And this is when management style gives way to leadership.

Because no employee workforce is going to extend their faith and trust to a leader who doesn’t demonstrate they have the best interests of their people’s security at heart.

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