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This column is part of Globe Careers' Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at

In the upcoming election, American voters have a choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and between two different types of leaders.

What is leadership? Martin Chemers, a social psychologist who has written much about it, describes it as the "process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task."

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A leader is someone who people follow, who guides and directs others, and who can organize a group in order to achieve a common goal.

I define it as the ability to lead people and to have them follow you. But no matter how you define it, the key ingredient for successful leadership is that people trust you. Trust is the foundation.

So how do the two presidential candidates come across as leaders and managers? What can we say about their decision-making and negotiation skills? What kind of communicators are they? And what it would be like to work for them? Let's have a look.


Clinton: A strong leader who is tough and resilient, but with lots of planning and research. A bureaucrat with extensive contacts, a huge network of influencers, and a scratch-my-back-and-I-will-reciprocate attitude. She is methodical and good on her feet. Competitive and wants to win.

Trump: A strong, tough leader, demanding, who looks at the bottom line with a show-me-your-results attitude. A get-the-job-done mentality. He is focused, direct and decisive, and favours action over planning. He uses whatever means are available, including laws and regulations, to achieve the goal. Like Clinton, he is competitive and wants to win.


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Clinton: Demanding of her staff, wants to know details, and delegates execution but not strategy. Clinton surrounds herself with influential, experienced people who come highly recommended. While she gives trust, she demands loyalty and dedication in return.

Trump: The big-picture manager. This is what we want to achieve and here are the resources, now do it. He delegates both execution and strategy, and then waits for results. He surrounds himself with people hand-picked for their qualifications, but who are there mostly for their performance record and ability to get results. He gives his trust, too, but you better earn it or you'll be replaced.


Clinton: The research-and-planning manager who uses her advisors and network to help decide the best route. She decides by consensus, but reserves the right to do it her way. She takes time to decide which way to go with confirmation from her advisors.

Trump: No problem with decision-making here as long as I do it. He seeks advice since he knows he doesn't have political experience, but goes with his gut feeling.


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Clinton: Negotiates based on facts and figures and with the help of aides and assistants. Staff is there to help her along the way from A to Z. The team closes the deal and she won't hesitate to advertise the win. Stability, previous decisions and going forward are key ingredients. The focus is long term.

Trump: Negotiates by doing his homework through staff research and intelligence gathering, but he takes charge of negotiations. Staff prepares him and opens the door, and he closes the deal. Trump will celebrate the win with the team, but the focus here is winning and moving on, not stability and past history. While long term is important, the short term is the priority.

Note: Both candidates appear as wheeler-dealers, but with Trump it is visible and with Clinton it is concealed.


Clinton: Diplomatic and careful with her vocabulary and speech. The priority is looking professional and showing she's in command. Emotions are hidden in public and under control. Stress builds up over time and bursts out when the pressure is too much, but only in private.

Trump: Direct, say it like it is, and focus on the heart of the matter rather than the packaging. He alienates some with his style and choice of words, but behind closed doors he is respectful and will compromise to achieve objectives. Emotions are not hidden. On the contrary, his emotions are used to get those objectives. Pressure doesn't build up over time because he releases pressure and stress both privately and publicly.

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So there you have it. The U. S. electorate is faced with two completely different styles of leadership. With each there are pluses and minuses. Who would you like to work for and who do you trust? And which of these two can best get the job done? These are good questions. As for me, I'm just happy to be a Canadian who doesn't have to vote in this one.

Hugh Latif, of Hugh Latif Associates in Vaughan, Ont., is a management consultant who helps mid-size, private companies with strategy, succession planning, and HR. He is author of a new book, Maverick Leadership.

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