Power Sheet – September 23, 2015


In the next few historic days, the two men who are arguably the world’s two most powerful leaders are visiting the U.S. at the same time. At least they are the two leaders with the most followers. Xi Jinping, leader of 1.5 billion Chinese, and Pope Francis, leader of 1.2 billion Catholics, arrived on opposite coasts yesterday, and the opportunity to compare them is irresistible.

Produced by Ryan Derousseau

The stylistic differences are most immediately obvious, and they’re striking. “Pope starts U.S. trip with modesty, tone of conciliation” is how Reuters headlined its story. The same could not be said of Xi, though he tries to project modesty. But he has been intent on conveying power and even intimidation lately, recently staging a high-visibility military parade in Beijing and then starting his U.S. trip in Seattle, not Washington, a move seen in diplomatic circles as a snub to President Obama. Xi got off his plane and into a big SUV for the drive into town. Francis got off his plane and into a Fiat 500L, which looks a lot like an SUV shrunk by half.

On matters of substance, Xi and Francis actually share a couple of concerns. Both are intent on rooting out corruption, and both are finding that it isn’t easy. Only one of them, however, has corrupt leaders shot. Both are opposed to lavish living. Xi has almost single-handedly stopped the galloping growth of the luxury goods business in China by making clear that extravagant dinners and celebrations, including expensive “gifts,” are no longer tolerated (it’s part of the anti-corruption drive). Francis’s criticism of lavish living is part of a larger critique of capitalist culture, or so it seems to many observers. On his flight from Cuba to the U.S., however, he told reporters that he wasn’t opposed to capitalism and that “the impression that I am a bit to the left … would be an error of explanation.”

It’s intriguing to consider that neither leader was elected by his followers. But then the nature of their institutions, and the reasons people follow each leader, are so starkly different that maybe it’s best not to carry these comparisons too far. It’s perfectly legitimate, though, to compare them on one more dimension. Francis’s approval rating among the U.S. public is 60%. Xi’s is 28%

During the rest of the week it will be instructive to read the news coverage of Francis and Xi in the U.S. not as two separate stories, but as one story about two kinds of leader.

What We're Reading Today

Hillary's once-deleted emails have been found

The FBI's ability to recover deleted emails means that correspondence by Hillary Clinton could eventually become public. More than half of the 60,000 emails she sent from her personal server while Secretary of State were not related to the job, she says. The investigation is expected to take another few months. Bloomberg

VW's CEO tries to save his job

Martin Winterkorn met with a five-member board committee to discuss how VW managed to cheat U.S. emission tests, leading the company to set aside $7.3 billion for recalls and opening up investigations in other countries. The five-member committee will provide a recommendation about Winterkorn's future to the full board, which will meet on Friday to determine whether to part ways with the CEO. Deutsche Welle

Goldman Sachs CEO announces cancer diagnosis

Lloyd Blankfein says he has a "highly curable" form of lymphoma. The 61-year-old head of Goldman will continue to work, though he will likely reduce travel plans. Goldman COO Gary Cohn will take on some of Blankfein's responsibilities as he undergoes treatment. He's not the first CEO to tackle cancer while remaining on the job. CNBC

Bank of America's CEO secures chairmanship

It's a big victory for Brian Moynihan, who took the dual role of CEO and chairman at the bank last year. The board had to change the rules for him to do so, which upset a number of investors, particularly pension funds that wanted a stronger check on Moynihan. Even with the win, 37% voted against him, signaling a stir of discontent among the bank's investors. Reuters

European Union ministers approve migrant plan

The EU interior ministers forced through a plan to redistribute 120,000 migrants seeking asylum in Europe. Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia voted against the proposal but will likely be forced to take some migrants if the plan passes a EU vote from presidents and prime ministers. But the overall migrant crisis is far greater than what's addressed in the current plan. More than 480,000 have reached Italy and Greece since January, and Germany expects to receive 1 million arrivals this year.  Economist

Building a Better Leader

Premiums continue to rise

Single and family premiums for employee-sponsored health insurance rose 4% this year. It's in line with the long-term growth of premiums, which have risen 5% annually since 2005. Deductibles have increased 67% since 2010. Kaiser

When your CEO turns rotten...

...expect to rebuild your company's culture from the ground up. Entrepreneur

Starbucks fails to make headway on employee changes

Howard Shultz, founder and CEO of Starbucks, promised last year that the coffee chain would improve on employee practices, including providing more consistent scheduling and no longer forcing employees to close a store at night when working the next morning. According to a new report, those promises haven't been fulfilled at many stores. The pressure on store managers to reach quotas has, in some stores, delayed the changes. NYT

Mending Fences

Turing rolls back drug price

After CEO Martin Shkreli adamantly defended the practice of selling old drugs at a steep price, Turing has announced that it will decrease pricing of a drug used to fight an infection seen in AIDS and cancer patients. Turing had recently bought the 62-year-old drug and raised its price by 5,000%. Shkreli created a social media firestorm when he argued for the increase on Twitter. NYT

China President opens door for U.S. cybersecurity deal

Speaking to business leaders in Seattle, President Xi Jinping said he would work with President Barack Obama on finding common ground in fighting cyber attacks. It's an issue that has led to tension between the two leaders and a sign of hope that a dialogue may open. Bloomberg

Google welcomes in Wall Street

Under new CFO Ruth Porat, Google has begun hosting 15-30 minute analyst calls, briefing investors on business updates. It's a common practice among other large companies, but one Google as avoided. WSJ

Up or Out

Twitter's senior director of engineering Akash Garg is moving to Uber to head its mobile and web engineering teams.  Fortune

Linda Boff, a 12-year veteran of GE, has been named its chief marketing officer.  Reuters

Norfolk Southern Corp. has named Michael J. Wheeler its next chief operating officer and Cindy C. Earhart its new chief information officer. PR Newswires

Fortune Reads and Videos

Uber launches new carpooling feature in China

The feature targets carpoolers who are heading in the same direction. But typically Travis Kalanick's company launches new offerings in San Francisco, which speaks to the growing importance of China for Uber's future. Fortune

Volkswagen hires BP's Deepwater Horizon defense team...

...as the lawsuits begin to roll in.  Fortune

The Super Bowl of craft beer kicks off

The expo, which will have over 3,500 beers on tap from 750 breweries, sold out of tickets for the three-day event in 77 minutes. Fortune

Jos. A. Bank dumps its ridiculous deals 

The "Buy One, Get Three Free" offerings are no more. Could it have been getting mocked by Saturday Night Live that led to the change? We like to think so. Fortune

Today's Quote

“I tell the kids, somebody's gotta win, somebody's gotta lose. Just don't fight about it. Just try to get better.” -- Hall of Fame baseball player Yogi Berra, who passed away at the age of 90 on Tuesday. 

Share Today's Power Sheet: 

Subscribe to Well Adjusted, our newsletter full of simple strategies to work smarter and live better, from the Fortune Well team. Sign up today.

Read More

Great ResignationDiversity and InclusionCompensationCEO DailyCFO DailyModern Board