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Trump is 'better than' his rocky first 11 days in office, management guru Sonnenfeld says

President Donald Trump's turbulent 11 days in office do not reflect his capabilities as the first CEO to win the White House, Yale School of Management's Jeff Sonnenfeld told CNBC on Tuesday.

When Sonnenfeld met with the Trump three weeks ago, he said, he reminded the then-president-elect "that there are certain qualities as the first CEO to become commander in chief that he was bringing to bear in terms of framing issues and communications and problem-solving and accountability and metrics," Sonnenfeld told "Squawk Box."

"He seemed to get all that," the dean of leadership studies continued. "And we talked about the taking-charge process. This is a terrible taking-charge process, especially his last few weeks. He's much better than this."

Sonnenfeld said that Trump's wave of executive orders has been poorly managed by the president's top aides. "He's being misadvised, I think, by a very small group of advisors that are playing to some instincts that aren't working out well," he said.

The response from CEOs to Trump's executive order issuing a travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries has been especially heated, Sonnenfeld said.

He compared it to the reaction to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which was put in place in response to scandals at Enron and Tyco as a way to protect investors from fraudulent accounting activities. The act made it expensive for publicly traded companies to monitor their internal operations effectively.

Sonnenfeld said he had heard directly from 36 major CEOs across industries who were seeking advice on how to constructively respond to Trump's order.

"I've been advising them to not rely on the comfort of a shield of collective action through trade associations that have been largely ineffectual, speak their own mind[s] but do it with homework and preparation, showing grassroots legitimacy," he said.

"[Trump] can often deal with a counter-opinion quite well if it's based on facts and you're not insulting him and not giving him a lot of philosophy. He's very pragmatic. And that's been working out well for a lot of CEOs until this sudden sea change we've seen in the last few days," he continued.

Now, CEOs like Tesla's Elon Musk, who offered to help Trump rewrite the legislation, are taking on a more positive approach, trying to gently insinuate that Trump's message is being construed as "a negative portrait of America and what we stand for," Sonnenfeld said.

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