Welcome To Incompetent Leadership And Toxic Management: President Trump’s Jeff Sessions Attack

I detest bad leadership. I’ve studied leaders since I was 11, and studied management since I was 19. Incompetent leadership and inept management cripples business, the arts, sports, education, government, civilization, the world. I seldom see as horrible an example of both as in the case of President Trump’s verbal tirades against his own Attorney General,Jeff Sessions, first to Republican Senators at a White House dinner on this week,  and later in an interview with the New York Times. Sessions responded to his boss’s disgraceful behavior by saying that he intended to serve “as long as that is appropriate.”

The only reason it would be appropriate for anyone to work for a leader, executive, manager or supervisor who treats subordinates this was is patriotism. The nation has to be managed; the government has to function. Other than that, no one with honor, self-respect or a sense of responsibility should voluntarily subject themselves to the kind of abuse this President offers.  Reportedly the President insists on loyalty, but loyalty has to be minimally reciprocal. Criticizing a subordinate in public, as with the press, or in private, behind that subordinate’s back, is the equivalent of sin for any leader. It is cowardly. It’s unfair and disrespectful.  It is irresponsible, incompetent and stupid, stupid stupid.

Baseball managers who do this lose the support of their teams, and get fired. CEOs who do it in businesses end up ineffective, undermined and isolated. And Presidents? There’s not much precedent for this kind of conduct, because no previous President behaved like this. When previous Presidents felt about  Cabinet members or staffers like Trump says he feels about Sessions, they fired them, usually with a standard statement about how much the newly canned were appreciated, wishing them luck. They didn’t do what Trump just did without firing the individual because previous Presidents had sufficient experience, wisdom and common sense to know that it is all of those things I just cited, but especially stupid. Such comments make any leader who does it appear mean, petty and foolish, because such conduct is mean, petty and foolish. They create sympathy for the individual attacked, for everyone can imagine how they would feel being treated that way, and how they would respond in most cases: quit. They nurture contempt and lack of trust in the leader: why would anyone keep on an employee that he is so displeased with as to broadcast that displeasure to outsiders? What sense does that make?

Trump’s attack on Sessions is signature significance. No leader with any self-restraint does it. No leader with prudence and sound judgment does it either. Nor does a leader who understands human nature, organizational dynamics, or what leadership means. The conduct is signature significance for a leader who does not know how to engender trust or loyalty.

It is signature significance for a fool.


37 thoughts on “Welcome To Incompetent Leadership And Toxic Management: President Trump’s Jeff Sessions Attack

    • Jack has already made it clear that Trump didn’t deserve to be in office. However, he has also made it clear that he is qualified because we elected him to be so. Having not been found to break any rules despite rude behavior, dumb decision, a unparallel presidency, and a very determined media to smear him, he still holds that qualification.

        • At what point, Jack, will you state Trump must either voluntarily leave office or be removed from office? In other words, do you have a tipping point and, if so, what is it?

            • Yes. Unfortunately the Constitution made certain assumptions – that if enough people were involved, then they would be for the state, and not the party.

              As Macauley put it:

              Then none was for a party—
              Then all were for the state;
              Then the great man helped the poor,
              And the poor man loved the great;
              Then lands were fairly portioned!
              Then spoils were fairly sold:
              The Romans were like brothers
              In the brave days of old.

              Now Roman is to Roman
              More hateful than a foe,
              And the tribunes beard the high,
              And the fathers grind the low.

              • Irrelevant. The Constitution is still the law of the land. And it’s been pretty remarkably successful. We trust it, and those who don’t don’t trust democracy. So I don’t trust them.

                • “The Constitution is still the law of the land. And it’s been pretty remarkably successful. We trust it, and those who don’t don’t trust democracy.”

                  I disagree. Constitutions have been amended before now, usually all to the good. As for success – YMMV there, see events around 1860.

                  It is good. It is not perfect. To place absolute trust in it in its current form and ignore any signs that it’s going wrong seems to me to be unwise, even irrational. Do I distrust Democracy? Yes, to a degree. Of course I do. I just distrust all other forms of government far more.

                  Many forms of Gov­ern­ment have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pre­tends that democ­ra­cy is per­fect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democ­ra­cy is the worst form of Gov­ern­ment except for all those oth­er forms that have been tried from time to time.…

                  W.S.Churchill, (House of Com­mons, 11 Novem­ber 1947)

                  You talk of distrusting Democracy as if that is inherently a bad thing, Jack.

                  • It is inherently a bad thing, because every other system is demonstrably worse. As for the Constitution, it is amended as needed, not as wished. A significant distinction. The Trump era mania for finding new and heretofore unacceptable reasons to overturn election results is the modern left showing its recent totalitarian inclination. The Constitution’s integrity has never been more important.

              • Mr. GOUVERNEUR MORRIS’S opinion had been changed by the arguments used in the discussion. He was now sensible of the necessity of impeachments, if the Executive was to continue for any length of time in office. Our Executive was not like a magistrate having a life interest, much less like one having an hereditary interest, in his office. He may be bribed by a greater interest to betray his trust; and no one would say that we ought to expose ourselves to the danger of seeing the First Magistrate in foreign pay, without being able to guard against it by displacing him. One would think the King of England well secured against bribery. He has, as it were, a fee simple in the whole Kingdom. Yet Charles II. was bribed by Louis XIV. The Executive ought, therefore, to be impeachable for treachery. Corrupting his Electors, and incapacity, were other causes of impeachment. For the latter he should be punished, not as a man, but as an officer, and punished only by degradation from his office. This Magistrate is not the King, but the prime minister. The people are the King. When we make him amenable to justice, however, we should take care to provide some mode that will not make him dependent on the Legislature.

                Warren Throckmorton is blogging a series of articles on the 1787 constitutional convention, which, using nothing but primary sources, provides an insight into what were the framers’ intentions and concerns.

                • What matters now is their words, and how they have been interpreted by the courts. This is just a replay of the intellectually dishonest electoral college plots, then the silly emoluments farce. It’s especially hilarious from the party that attacked Scalia for his “originalism.” We don’t recall Presdients for being bad leaders and having the news media plotting against you. Obama was a horrible President. He was just classy about it, and he was fawned over by the news media, which refused to hold him accountable.

            • The Constitution does say what the tipping point is–“high crimes and misdemeanors”–but is also horrendously unclear on what that means.

              I don’t think we’re they’re yet. But we’re getting close.

    • I decided that he was unqualified and unfit to be elected a long, long time ago, but since he was, the President certainty has every right to try to do the job he was elected to do the best he can.

  1. The greatest loyalty I got from a subordinate was when I went nose to nose with a judge for humiliating her in open court.

    On the one hand, the judge was trying to enforce decorum.

    But my subordinate, a paralegal, was just doing what she was asked to do (not by me): go get an order signed by the signing Judge.

    She was not dressed for court, and the Judge let everyone in the courtroom know. She called me and I dragged her back up to the Judge, who told her an attorney should bring her, the Judge, also a woman, such an order for signature. I told the Judge that she needed to follow the rules of decorum as well and implied that the Board of Judicial Standards would need to review this incident if we could not resolve it.

    The Judge apologized to my paralegal, signed my order, and reminded me that it would be good for attorneys to appear to get orders from the signing Judge (I agreed; again, this was not my fight: the Judge was right).

    This was over 10 years ago and I am sure the paralegal remembers when someone stuck up for her.

    Dealing with this again today. Paralegal today said a client yells at her. I told her if she ever yells at her again, I need to know. I get paid to get yelled at; she does not.


    • This is ethical behavior, Jut. I tell resources that I get paid to be yelled at (I am a project manager) and they should not stand for it, when doing what they are supposed to do.

      The down side is I get into the ugliest situations and have to keep my cool while someone who should know better is having a meltdown, sometimes over weeks.

  2. In my experience, the best leaders share certain characteristics. First, there needs to be more than “minimal” loyalty to those he professes to lead. He needs to be completely loyal to those who are loyal to him, barring criminal activity, unethical behavior, or clear demonstration that the staff member is not loyal. Trump fails. Second (again, in my experience) the best leaders are (for lack of a better word) humble. I do not mean the kind of self-effacing false humility too often seen, as the leader should be comfortable with his/her own talents and skills. Rather, I mean the kind of humility where a person recognizes that there is something to be learned from everyone in the orbit of this particular star, listens to them, and can recognize what can be employed for improvement. I have many stories illustrating this but not the time right now to enumerate them. “The buck stops here” (although Harry had a disturbing propensity to blame others) and T Roosevelt, “It is better to be faithful than to be famous,” something DJT could not possibly understand.

  3. This is Trump the trash reality entertainer coming out. The entertainment world that promotes and rewards pettiness, spite and snitchy drama doesn’t work in real life.

  4. While no fan of either the President ( and I was willing to give him the benefit of a chance to prove himself) or Mr.Sessions, the disrespect the president has shone Mr.Sessions has indeed shone his disregard for decorum and understanding of proper protocols! Mr. Sessions has in these instances has behaved admirably. Something I never expected to say about a racist homophobe. So my question is how do we proceed from here?

  5. It’s comical, he said ruefully. Every time a post, and especially a series of posts, criticizes a conservative, the Republicans, the President or someone of that ilk, Ethics Alarms immediately loses a bunch of followers. Criticizing Democrats, the news media, Hollywood, academia, BLM, Obama, Hillary, et al gets no detectable reaction, positive or negative.The blog has been stalled within a range of about 10 followers for months, going up and down based on who pals get caught here with the hands in the ethics cookie jar. What kind of idiot chooses information sources that way? No, this isn’t your echo chamber….

    • Which is truly odd in my observation-

      For the most part when you call out a conservative for an ethics violation or a conservative policy for a violation of ethics, I rarely if ever see a knee jerk defense rise from our *commenting* friends on the right, whereas, almost predictably you can expect our *commenting* friends on the left to jump to the defense of a liberal or liberal policy that’s been called out.

      In terms of traffic and non-commenting readers, I can understand there being no change when the Left is criticized, because didn’t you comment that during the litany of Obama fiascos, you observed a noticeable drop in participation of our resident leftists? So in theory, those most emotionally “harmed” by criticism of their sacred cows are long gone.

      Now perhaps among the non-commenting right wingers, you are noticing a similar exodus. Which I do find odd given my observation of the *commenting* population.

      • Yes, the hardest left commenters flee when they can muster an argument better than “Oh, yeah?” Those who remain are actually interested in discussing , not just proclaiming. The hard right doesn’t show up here. It does account for a lot of spammed comments. They think I’m a progressive.During the campaign we had more Gary Johnson supporters than Trumpers.

        • I have not seen Alizia in a while… was she not hard right? You have called her ‘Arch Conservative’ before, and she has been painted as alt-right, even though she is not really, just open to alternate theories than the mainstream accepted ones.

          • Sizes is absolutely not “American right”. Alt right at it’s core is an attempt to introduce European right into America. And European right is essentially Left wing economics with hard core exclusivism as the defining factor.

            “Socialism for our nationality” for all intents and purposes sums up European right wing politics.

            • Her last epic post ended…

              And that is why, again, I feel myself a *radical* to many of the so-called ‘Conservative’ positions, not to speak of those of the Hyper-Left.
              But I will say these things and get what exactly in return? silence, dislike, intolerance and condemnation. Yet I have said nothing unethical.

              I didn’t read that as sign-off.

              • she’ll be back. She’s just in the middle of some thick philosophical tome and once complete we’ll be regaled with whatever snippets she gleaned from that.

              • Nor did I, Jack. I hope all is well for her: she made me think, challenged my preconceptions (She was to the MY right, and I did not think that was possible!) and took the time to examine topics in great detail.

                Other opinions are why I am active on this site. I learned from Alizia, even if it was to reject an arguement, because I had to think about long held beliefs… and change them, if warranted.

              • Pointing out facts is not beneath me, and it is a fact that Alizia has denied known facts about the Holocaust, such as the death toll, in order to push her anti-Semitic and segregationist agenda.

                Carrying water for her is beneath you.. She doesn’t deserve your support, and you’re a better person than she’ll ever be.

                • I too was nonplussed by Alizia’s comments regarding the Holocaust. Still, I found her exceedingly intelligent, way way way too intelligent for me to read through pages and pages of text. I’m just not able to read long scribes, whether it’s her’s or Jack’s or whoever. I grow old. I grow grouchy. I grow distracted. Still, I love what you folks are doing here on Ethics Alarms. This is not an endorsement, just an observation.

                • Carrying water for her is beneath you.. She doesn’t deserve your support, and you’re a better person than she’ll ever be.

                  Chris, (and please understand I hold you in the highest respect: I would sooner destroy a stained glass window than a intelligent progressive as yourself)

                  Bite me.

                  I am not carrying water for Alizia. I simply am objective about her strengths and weaknesses, which you cannot seem to be.

                  You are quick to attack a single mistaken position for a political enemy, while going to great lengths to carry water for fellow travelers (socialists, progressives, totalitarians, anarchists… you know, morons)

                  You epic defense of all things progressive speaks for itself… and continues long after the horse is not only dead, but decomposed with the bones scattered.

  6. It continues today:

    We have a nation without a leader.

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