As President-elect Donald Trump today becomes President Trump, it’s worth speculating about what he might face in terms of unforeseen crises.
The ones we can see, in the forefront or on the horizon, are relatively easy. It’s the ones we can only imagine that tie our hands. And they are the ones individuals and companies must prepare to face.
For instance, President Obama in 2008 didn’t expect the economy to tank into the worst recession of our generation. In 2001, President Bush didn’t expect 9/11. We can be certain that President Clinton didn’t expect his private affairs to become public, but they did.
Going back further, President Nixon thought Watergate would remain a second-rate burglary. President Truman didn’t expect to become president and have to unleash the atom bomb. And while President Roosevelt faced the Great Depression, he didn’t take office expecting to fight World War II.
For all the talk of President Trump’s agenda — repeal Obamacare, change immigration laws, rebuild the nation’s infrastructure and Make America Great Again — history tells us those initiatives are easily derailed by urgent and unexpected crisis.
Which is why people ask whether a president, any president, is equipped and ready to deal with perilous times they may not have anticipated. This is why we as voters and citizens try to evaluate candidates on how they will react and lead in the worst of times.
This lesson is worth grasping for CEOs, non-profit leaders and organizational chieftains across the board. Since no one can accurately predict what the next crisis will be, you must be prepared, and prepare your team, to take on the next crisis, from wherever it emerges.
Let’s briefly look at successful pro football teams. Since quarterback is the key position, teams back up that position with one or two other quarterbacks, because failure to do so would lead to losses. In fact, each NFL team has 53 players, because coaches and GMs know players will get hurt, play poorly and get in trouble, risking the team’s success. If you look closely at the Falcons, Steelers, Patriots and Packers, you’ll find teams whose depth and superiority in their second- and third-tier players probably contributed to their success as much as their top stars. They are prepared for unforeseen crisis.
A crisis will hit. All you can do is prepare.