Donald Trump ran for president based on his success as a leader in the business world. So what do the chief financial officers of some of the world’s largest companies think about President Trump’s management style?
Roughly six months into Trump’s presidency, CNBC posed just this question to its Global CFO Council, which includes executives from companies such as AT&T, BNP Paribas, Cisco, Clorox, DuPont, Facebook, Ford, Levi Strauss, Marriott, MasterCard, Unilever, and United Airlines.
Thirty-nine CFOs completed the anonymous survey, and of the 35 that answered the question asking them to describe Trump’s management style in a single word, only four responses could be construed as positive. They were “Business-style,” “Directive,” “Fluid,” and “Unconventional.” (Yes, the latter two aren’t necessarily positive, but we’re giving him the benefit of the doubt.)
The rest of the responses trash Trump as a manager. The most popular answer, mentioned by four CFOs, was “Chaotic,” and “Chaos” was named once separately as well. Three other words got two responses apiece: “Erratic,” “Reckless,” and “Unpredictable.”
Among the other terms used to describe Trump’s management as president:
“There are no words”
The executives who participated in the survey are also growing less optimistic that Trump can follow through on the promises he made as a presidential candidate. The CFOs’ confidence fell significantly between February and June when asked about Trump’s ability to repeal and replace Obamacare, begin building a wall along the Mexican border, launch a large infrastructure plan, and enact corporate and personal tax reform by the end of 2017.
For example, in February, when a similar survey was conducted, the CFOs were 59% confident that corporate tax reform would be law by the end of the year. By June, the CFOs’ confidence level fell to 44% on the issue.
Many organization and management experts have been unimpressed with Trump’s leadership style from the beginning. After the New York Times consulted several such experts a few weeks into Trump’s presidency, this was the consensus opinion:
On the other hand, 100 days into the Trump presidency, BusinessInsider.com asked four management experts to weigh in on how he was doing as a leader, and they had some good things to say. They characterized President Trump as an aggressive negotiator who has lots of energy and projects confidence.
Yet one of the experts, Columbia Business School professor Adam Galinsky, offered this caveat on how confidence translates to leadership: “I think we are attracted to confidence, but I think eventually that confidence has to be connected to actual performance.”