Takes on the coming week in leadership:
-The Democratic presidential candidates will finally hold a debate Tuesday evening on CNN from Las Vegas. Have some fun with friends and co-workers by asking them to name more than two of the candidates – five will be onstage, assuming Joe Biden does not enter the race. The big question to keep front and center as you watch is, as usual, whom would you want to follow? Nobody has the complete package. Hillary Clinton can talk policy with authority but scores near zero on authenticity. Bernie Sanders is the opposite: winningly authentic but unrealistic on policy, promising pie in the sky that makes voters feel good until they really think about it. The big unknown is whether any of the other candidates can deliver a Carly Fiorina-style breakout performance and attract polling numbers above tiny single digits. Those other three, BTW, are former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, former Virginia senator Jim Webb, and former Rhode Island governor and senator Lincoln Chafee.
-Washington will be staring at Paul Ryan this week – from a distance, since he’s home in Wisconsin while the House is in recess. Until he makes some kind of definitive announcement about whether he’s willing to run for Speaker, the Roman delegation will continue to implore Cincinnatus (forgive the extended metaphor) by phone, email, and personal visit. If he gives in and says yes, this will be a great leadership story to watch – because while he could apparently win the vote, it’s far from clear that he or anyone could lead House Republicans successfully.
-Is Europe leadable? That word does not exist, but you know what I mean. EU leaders will meet Thursday to work on the refugee crisis, which could pose a greater threat to Euro-unity than the Greek financial crisis did. In the U.K., opposing sides are forming up in the fight over whether Britain should leave the EU. Prime Minister David Cameron intends to negotiate with EU leaders over new terms for Britain’s role and has promised a national referendum on staying or leaving once the negotiations are complete. It’s still unlikely the EU will disintegrate, but the scenarios are getting easier to envision.
-Much of the leadership news these past few weeks has been in politics, not business, but business leaders can still find lessons in the headlines. Perform a few thought experiments. What if, like the president, you got an approval rating from those you lead? What would it be? How confident are you that you’re right? Could you find out? What if your constituents, like a sample of the U.S. public, were asked regularly if your organization is on the right track or the wrong track? Most radically, what if you had to be elected? It’s often considered a strength of business leaders that they’re not elected – except that at some highly successful companies, they are. At Haier, for example, the world’s largest appliance brand, CEO Zhang Ruimin has divided the workforce into thousands of small teams, each focused on a particular customer and each of which elects its leader. At W.L. Gore, maker of Gore-Tex and much more, founder Bill Gore created a structure in which there are no bosses, only leaders, and you find out if you’re a leader by calling a meeting and seeing if anybody comes.
It’s a useful question to ask about any putative leader, including yourself: If he or she weren’t the boss, would anyone come to their meetings?
What We’re Reading Today
Dell announces EMC merger
Benghazi committee turns focus to Clinton emails
The committee headed by South Carolina Republican Representative Trey Gowdy was developed to discover what happened in 2012 when four Americans were killed in Libya but has seemingly expanded its focus to presidential candidate Hillary Clinton‘s private email use while she was Secretary of State. The inquiry has lasted longer than the Watergate investigation and has added 18 current and former State Department officials to its list of witnesses. President Barack Obama called Hillary’s use of private email a “mistake,” but not a “security threat.” NYT
China drafts anti-Uber law
Chinese regulators have written a proposal that would force Uber and its competitors, such as Didi Kuaidi, to operate like traditional taxi cab companies rather than as technology companies that provide a platform for hailing cars. It would significantly change how Travis Kalanick‘s company, whose Chinese operation is valued at $8 billion, manages drivers that it considers independent workers. The proposed law would require that drivers have three years of experience in order to work for an “online taxi.” Quartz
Southwest struggles with major delays
CEO Gary Kelly‘s company has blamed a technology glitch that delayed 450 Southwest flights yesterday, and Southwest expects the delays to continue today. Southwest didn’t provide a timetable for when it would resolve the issue; it doesn’t believe that hacking is to blame. Chicago Sun-Times
Building a Better Leader
Activist investors often benefit the firm they overtake…
…but not the workers. Three years after an activist investor’s changes take hold, on average, the company performs better and more productively, but employees’ wages stagnate. Harvard Business Review
A strange encounter
Early in the building of a digital advertising company, now-CFO of Criteo Mollie Spilman changed the focus of her startup after a conversation with a stranger on a plane. Fortune
The worst moment of the week…
…turns out to be 11:17 am today. So it will only get better from here. City A.M.
Apple blocks News app in China
Tim Cook‘s company does not allow iPhone users to access the app while in China, even if the phone is registered in the U.S. Since China provides the second largest revenue stream for Apple, the decision to cut off the app in the country is likely an effort to avoid a conflict with the Chinese government. Gizmodo
SABMiller’s management uncertainty led to A-B InBev bid
After SABMiller replaced its chairman, chief financial officer, and head of MillerCoors in just over a year, Anheuser-Busch InBev CEO Carlos Brito saw an opportunity to merge the world’s No. 1 and No. 2 brewers. SABMiller CEO Alan Clark had only been in the position since 2013, and Brito didn’t want to give him time to make significant changes. Reuters
Martin Winterkorn to quit remaining roles at VW
Former Volkswagen CEO Winterkorn, who’s under investigation for what he knew about efforts to trick regulators about diesel engine emissions tests, will step down from his remaining positions at the company, including chairman of VW’s luxury brand, Audi. The Telegraph
Up or Out
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is expected to announce a round of layoffs as early as this week, as he begins to try to turn things around at the company he co-founded. Fortune
Franco-Swiss cement company LafarfeHolcim has named Ron Wirahadiraksa its next CFO, replacing Thomas Aebischer. MarketWatch
Fortune Reads and Videos
Elon Musk announces Tesla’s newest autopilot feature
The software upgrade will give the car limited self-driving capabilities, including some steering on the highway and while parallel parking. Fortune
Glencore shops two copper mines
Divesting the mines in Australia and Chile is part of a reduction strategy to rid itself of $10 billion in assets. Fortune
Volkswagen recalls 2,000 vehicles from China
But CEO Matthias Müller won’t lose any sleep over this one. Fortune
Amazon’s newest Fire TV hasn’t taken off
It’s essentially the same experience as Amazon’s first generation of TVs. But Jeff Bezos‘s company promises future updates. Fortune
“I do think a founder has special permission to make sweeping changes across an organization.” – Michael Dell, founder of Dell.
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|Produced by Ryan Derousseau|