Donald Trump’s Face Tells the Story of Power-Based Leadership

Donald Trump is the epitome of power-based leadership. For example, the man wanted to trademark his catch phrase, “You’re fired!”, which would require every organization using this phrase to pay him tribute. Therefore, “The Donald” makes for an excellent study on the personal effects of power-based leadership.

Donald Trump - Many Faces - Many Frowns

Former Fan

When I graduated college, I idolized Donald Trump. At that time, entrepreneurs were making millions in new ventures and I wanted in. I studied Trump and admired his dominant success in business. In fact, I was thrilled when I met Mr. Trump, albeit briefly, during my interview for season 2 of The Apprentice. Then, my perspectives on leadership matured. It became less about the money and more about the people.

Contrasting Leadership

As my experience in the business world grew, I discovered two contrasting styles of leadership: the toxic, command-and-conquer  style and servant leadership. The former rarely lasted long, while servant leadership proved the most successful for the greatest period of time. This was my introduction to servant leadership and the evaporation of my adoration for Donald Trump.

Donald and His Frown

So it came to pass that I thought of my former inspiration less and less. Until, one day, I realized he could still teach me a lot about leadership – even if I did not believe believe in his methods. His face appeared on a search result about leadership and I noticed a frown that was very familiar. I was more used to seeing Donald Trump frown, than smile. For a celebrity of his stature, who is often posed for professional photographs. This seemed odd.

So I did another search – for photos of Donald Trump. What I found confirmed my suspicions. Through roughly twenty pages of photographs of Donald Trump, I found only about 15% of the images contained a smile. The majority were frowns.

Exceptions to Consider

Sure, Donald Trump seems equal parts actor and businessman of late. He has a reputation for being a tough manage to uphold. Furthermore, some people simply aren’t much for smiling. Still, it seems to me, when looking at the face of Donald Trump, one rarely sees happiness.

Does Power-Based Leadership Bring Happiness?

This is no scientific study. Perhaps Donald Trump is happy – he certainly says he is. However, I’ve come to realize most people reflect their happiness in their face. I see happiness in most public figures. Yet, when I look into the face of the man who epitomizes power-based leadership, I see frustration and the frown that dominates his media presence.

Question: Do you think power-based leadership creates happiness?


Picture of Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner is the founder and principal of Modern Servant Leader and Radiant Forest, LLC. He has studied and promoted servant leadership awareness and adoption for over 20 years. He is the author of 2 leadership books and has 2 decades of corporate management and leadership experience. His corporate experience spans CIO, VP, Director, and many management roles at Fortune 500, INC 500, and Nonprofits. Ben’s education includes a B.S. in Management Science & Information Systems from Penn State University and an MBA from Lehigh University. Ben's Full Profile Here: About Ben Lichtenwalner

7 thoughts on “Donald Trump’s Face Tells the Story of Power-Based Leadership”

  1. I thank you for that valid point.  I have always heard and believe that you know a tree by the fruit it bears.  In Mr. Trumps case, his frown is the rotten fruit that seems to be produced from his life…just saying.

  2. Thank you for your interesting perspective.  However, it appears far too undeveloped.  A review of his family facial characteristics and expressins over time, for example, should be included.  In addition, he is a thinker.  He ponders and strategies.  Take a closer look at facial expressions of very good, nice people when they are listening intently etc.  Mr. Trump is a very successful business man.  I would put a little more time into understanding his preferred business model and preferred strategies!

    1. Thank you for the feedback, Breathepeace. To be clear, I have no formal education or medical expertise that would justify such a formal analysis. Instead, all I offer here is my own subjective, assessment. Thank you for taking the time to provide your own. Keep serving.

  3. You’ve inspired me to look at all the people I admire and check out their frown-to-smile ratio (FTSR). Like Oprah, for example, seems to smile quite a bit and surely she is a servant-oriented leader as anyone.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Content

Servant Leadership Library

A list of companies that value servant leadership. This list includes big names like Southwest Airlines, Starbucks and YUM Brands as well as many, often less-known organizations.

Scroll to Top
We Value Your Privacy

This site uses cookies to enhance your experience. We do not share, sell, or lease your information for any other purpose.