America’s love affair with non-politician politicians is looking like more than just a fling, and the trend is important for all leaders.
Most striking in the past 24 hours is how far both parties’ favorites have fallen. Hillary Clinton is no longer the prohibitive favorite, and Jeb Bush isn’t any kind of favorite. Among Republicans, any candidate who has ever held elected office is now scorned. Donald Trump and Ben Carson are tied at the top of latest poll in Iowa with 23% support, and no other candidate is within 10 points. Nationally, they’re No. 1 and No. 2, with Bush, at 7% support, sweating down in the engine room with all the others.
The Democrats don’t have any never-ever politicians in the race, but they’ve got Bernie Sanders, a senator who, like Trump and Carson, talks like he just doesn’t give a hoot what anybody thinks. For starters, calling yourself a socialist is not supposed to play well in the U.S. He doesn’t care, and that’s what voters love. A new Iowa poll shows him closing in on Clinton with 30% support vs. her 37%—the first time her support has fallen below 50%.
It’s all enough to encourage other non-politicians, which is just what happened over the weekend when longtime CNBC host Larry Kudlow said he might run for the Senate in Connecticut against Democratic incumbent Richard Blumenthal. He said he’s been approached about a run by the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Kudlow carries some baggage; he’s been open about considering himself a recovering alcoholic and cocaine addict for the past 20 years. But he has never held office (though he did work in the early Reagan White House), and right now that’s what counts.
What could this trend mean for business leaders? The deep issue is not the sin of office-holding but rather authenticity. Trump, Carson, and Sanders seem to be revealing their true selves. Bush, Clinton, and most of the others don’t; their every word seems calculated and expedient. Seeing Sanders gaining on her from the left, Clinton yesterday declared her support for a bill that would slow the revolving door between government and business—a bill that Sanders co-sponsored weeks ago. Seeing Trump gaining, Bush tried talking tough and put himself in a hole with a remark about “anchor babies,” and then kept digging.
Business leaders on the whole are not highly esteemed these days, but consider those who are, like Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk. When they speak, no one thinks they’re reading from notes based on polling data. Authenticity is hardly the only important trait in a leader, nor has it always been valued so highly; competence and business acumen used to be just about enough. But today, the inauthentic leader is doomed to irrelevance.
What We’re Reading Today
Toshiba struggles with accounting
It again delayed its annual financial report yesterday because of newly discovered accounting errors. It’s now three months later than expected, after an independent auditor said the company had overstated results by $1.2 billion over several years. CEO Masashi Muromachi says the new numbers will come Sept. 7. Reuters
General Mills looks to cut carbon emissions by 30%
In an aggressive plan by CEO Ken Powell, the cereal maker will invest $100 million in energy efficiency and clean energy to reach the mark over the next decade. It’s a coordination nightmare, since two-thirds of the company’s total emissions come from third-party partners. Fortune
Apple, Cisco team up on the ‘fast lane’
In an effort to bring iOS devices into the corporate office, the two companies will put aside past fights over the iPhone name. Apple products should more easily integrate with enterprise systems run by Cisco. It’s another sign that CEO Tim Cook runs Apple far differently than Steve Jobs ever did. The Verge
Could taxes trump The Donald?
Many Republicans are concerned that Donald Trump‘s proposals for increasing taxes could force other GOP candidates to follow suit. Although the latest Iowa poll numbers may halt that fear as Ben Carson rises to the top. NYT
A peak inside Julian Assange’s asylum
He has yet to leave his small flat in Ecuador’s U.K. Embassy since receiving protection in June 2012. According to leaked documents, Assange has struggled with the isolation and has gotten into a number of arguments with guards. Buzzfeed
Building a Better Leader
Industry experience leads to company survival
In looking at companies’ market value over a seven-year span, the National Women’s Business Council found that those run by leaders with industry experience fared far better than those run by leaders with entrepreneurial experience, regardless of gender. NWBC
Walmart cuts employee hours
In an effort to stem over-scheduling, the retailer instructed some stores to reduce hours. With CEO Doug McMillon increasing spending on hourly wages by $1 billion, the company is looking to curb costs in other ways. Fortune
The busiest airport in the world is…
…located in the U.S., but not in New York or Chicago. Atlanta, with 96 million yearly passengers, is the most active, followed by Beijing and Tokyo. CNN
T-Mobile CEO to customers: Stop stealing data!
In a strongly worded letter to customers, CEO John Legere called for a small percentage of them to stop using special software to get past T-Mobile data limits. Legere says customers caught doing so will be banned. CNNMoney
Obama considers sanctioning China over cyber-theft
The move would seek to punish companies and individuals that benefitted from the theft of U.S. secrets by Chinese hackers. While the White House is unsure if it will move forward with the sanctions, it would mark a major shift in the Obama Administration’s handling of the theft. Washington Post
Putin gives Facebook, Google more time
A new law set to go into effect today requires that all data about Russian citizens must be stored in centers located in Russia. But regulators told the tech companies that they would not check until the beginning of 2016, delaying a showdown with Facebook, Google, Twitter, and others. WSJ
Up or Out
General Electric has made CMO Beth Comstock vice chair, the first woman to hold the position at the company. Fortune
BJ’s Wholesale has found its new COO in former Hess Retail Corporation CEO Christopher Baldwin. MarketWatch
Royal Caribbean has named Michael Giresi its new CIO, replacing Bill Martin, who is retiring. WSJ
Chang Xiaobing has joined China Telecom Corp. as its new CEO. Nasdaq
Fortune Reads and Videos
Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer is pregnant…
…with twins, due in December. In 2012, Mayer was criticized for taking only two weeks off after giving birth to her first child shortly after becoming CEO. She plans to keep to a similar schedule this time as well. Fortune
Smartwatch battle heats up
Samsung’s newest offering works as a standalone phone. Fortune
Obama set to run wild
The president will join Bear Grylls on his extreme survival training show “Running Wild” when he visits Alaska. Fortune
Vinyl makes a comeback
Tesco, the world’s third largest retailer, will begin stocking records on its shelves in the U.K., starting with Iron Maiden’s newest album. Fortune
“I think that for me, it’s God, family, and Yahoo—in that order.” —Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer in 2012, discussing how she gets so much done in a day while taking care of a newborn. Fortune
Share Today’s Power Sheet:
|Produced by Ryan Derousseau|