by Ruth Riddle:
Why is a stable staff perceived to be positive, and staff transitions viewed as negative? It is akin to the perspective of a stable marriage versus multiple marriages.
The lifetime marriage is the accepted standard of familial bliss and stability. It is celebrated, despite the hidden sorrows and tempests, despite the compromises and missed opportunities. Who is to say that Mr. and Mrs. Longevity would not have been happier and more successful had they separated after 10 years?
And so it is with staffing. A faithful staffer of 30 years, who retires with a gold watch, was the pinnacle of professional success…50 years ago. Today, the typical staffer flits from job to job every few years.
The Trump White House has experienced many staff transitions since January 2017. All of them has proven prudent and necessary. Talented people gave way to other talented people. Personal merit has never been the cause of staff transitions. The issue has never been the abilities of the outgoing staff. Their considerable talents have never been disputed. Each has a proven record of success. The issue was always whether they were the best fit for the goals of President Trump.
The most recent, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and the first, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, served with distinction but had not fulfilled the needs and vision of President Trump. Their replacements, Pompeo and Kelly, respectively, are the right people for the current challenges ahead. As President Trump reassesses his cabinet and administrative staff, he is making necessary changes to ensure the people around him are as committed as he to the America First agenda.
Great leaders, like President Trump, are focused on goals and results. People are chosen to pursue the goals and achieve the results. Great leaders, like President Trump, are loyal to the mission, not to the staff. When a mission appears to be at risk, due to the wrong staff, great leaders, like President Trump, make changes to the staff.
The American people are the beneficiaries of a great leader’s ability to set aside loyalty to a person and focus on loyalty to the country and the mission. Staff are the cogs in the wheels of government. To ensure forward movement, the cogs must be replaced periodically. Allowing sentiment to forestall staff replacements is not the tactics of a great leader, like President Trump.
Think back to the campaign and Corey Lewandowski. He brought Trump to primary victory, at which point his abilities were no longer suited for securing the nomination at the July 2016 convention. Paul Manafort was given the nod for that task. Personal loyalty to Mr. Lewandowski could have placed Candidate Trump at risk of losing the nomination. As stated in Lewandowski’s book, Let Trump Be Trump, “The mode that he [Trump] switches into when things aren’t going his way can feel like an all-out assault; it’d break most hardened men and women into little pieces.” Corey remains unbroken and one of President Trump’s most ardent supporters.
As the Trump administration moves forward, the president will continue to reassess his staff. As he ticks off the promises made and kept to the American people, he will determine whether his staff can help him keep the promises yet to be fulfilled. Anyone who accepts the president’s offer to work in his administration must understand he is but a cog in the president’s wheel. A position in the Trump administration is not a 30-year commitment and a gold watch.