President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence arrive for the “American Leadership in Emerging Technology” event at the White House in June. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Last week, two former presidents and the current vice president spoke at public events about leadership and chose an interesting word to highlight, especially given the nation’s current chief executive. The word was humility, and the importance of remaining humble as a leader.
At a graduation of the Presidential Leadership scholars program in Dallas, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton never said President Trump’s name, but offered references many in the crowd thought were meant to apply to the current White House resident, Reuters reported. Bush said Clinton “was humble in victory, which is very important in dealing with other people.” The 42nd president responded: “.” And then: “You want to be able to say ‘things were better off when I quit, kid’s had a better future, things were coming together.’ You don’t want to say, ‘God, look at all the people I beat.’ ”
The remarks came a day after Vice President Mike Pence addressed the National Student Leadership Conference, a summer session of outstanding high school students, in Washington. At that event, Pence held up humility as one of the three key traits for good leadership, saying “it’s often in too scarce a supply in our society today.” Then he used Trump as an example. Trump, he said, “leads by asking questions and he listens,” sharing the story of a meeting with tech executives during the transition, when he said Trump asked questions and listened to the executives for much of two hours. “And I believe that reflects the kind of humility that will enhance your ability to be a leader.”
Trump may be many things, but humble is not one of them. The president brags constantly, appears unwilling to admit his mistakes, and remains focused on outside measures of his popularity, whether they be ratings, polls or crowd size. For more on Pence’s speech to high school students, read here.