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By Brad Tuttle
June 23, 2017
President Donald Trump during a cabinet meeting at the White House in June.
President Donald Trump during a cabinet meeting at the White House in June.
NICHOLAS KAMM—AFP/Getty Images

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:

“Arrogant”
“Authoritarian”
“Clueless”
“Confusing”
“Dictatorial”
“Hubristic”
“Incompetent”
“Narcissistic”
“Self-absorbed”
“Terrible”
“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.”

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The purpose of this disclosure is to explain how we make money without charging you for our content.

Our mission is to help people at any stage of life make smart financial decisions through research, reporting, reviews, recommendations, and tools.

Earning your trust is essential to our success, and we believe transparency is critical to creating that trust. To that end, you should know that many or all of the companies featured here are partners who advertise with us.

Our content is free because our partners pay us a referral fee if you click on links or call any of the phone numbers on our site. If you choose to interact with the content on our site, we will likely receive compensation. If you don't, we will not be compensated. Ultimately the choice is yours.

Opinions are our own and our editors and staff writers are instructed to maintain editorial integrity, but compensation along with in-depth research will determine where, how, and in what order they appear on the page.

To find out more about our editorial process and how we make money, click here.

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