It’s easy to forget that leadership is a skill unto itself, distinct from the skills required of those being led. As we get into a weekend frame of mind, intriguing evidence comes from the unlikely world of golf, in which leadership is rarely an issue at all.
Davis Love III said on the Golf Channel a couple of days ago that he’d welcome help from Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson as he leads the 2016 Ryder Cup team. A Golf Channel commentator had said earlier that those two great golfers didn’t deserve to be involved as leaders because they’d shown little interest in the Ryder Cup when they had played on the U.S. team. What makes all this interesting and worth our attention is that even in golf, one of the most individual sports of all, leadership makes a big difference, and the most successful leaders aren’t necessarily the ones you’d expect.
If you’re not a golf fan, just know that the Ryder Cup is a three-day tournament played every two years between an American team and a European team. Every time, the golf world generally agrees that the American team should win, and almost every time, it loses. Each team has a captain who does not play. The whole concept is awkward because the golfers on a team are trying their hardest to beat one another every weekend, yet for three days they’re supposed to come together and support one another as a team. Then they’ll go back to trying to beat each other.
As America’s 2016 captain, Love will choose co-captains, and it appears Woods and Mickelson may be interested. Part of the argument against them is that both have losing records in the Ryder Cup’s unique match-play competition (Woods is 13-17-3; Mickelson is 16-19-6). But Love doesn’t care about that, and in his interview he made a point that’s significant beyond golf: “Ryder Cup record really doesn’t have anything to do with being a leader,” he said, “because Paul Azinger and Ben Crenshaw both had losing Ryder Cup records [as players], but they were great leaders as Ryder Cup captains. Being a leader and winning matches don’t always go together.” That’s for sure. The teams captained by Crenshaw (in 1999) and Azinger (in 2008) achieved America’s only victories in the past 20 years.
But does a Ryder cup captain really lead his players? He does, because he creates the psychological environment in which they compete. That means he decides whom to pair with whom in some matches, crucial decisions because the members of some pairs strengthen one another while others do the opposite. “A well-placed comment spoken at the right time can make a difference and lead to positive outcomes,” Azinger later explained. “A pat on the back or just catching someone’s eye and giving him a slight nod can reestablish confidence and change an outcome.” The captain also roams the course during play and speaks to players who may be doing well or badly, deciding how best to spark a winning performance from each; and he must motivate them appropriately between matches.
Does any of this apply in the business world? It clearly does. To take one example, I was skeptical that Frank Blake would succeed as CEO of Home Depot when he got the job in 2007. He was 57 and had never held profit-and-loss responsibility in his career. But I was wrong; Blake was a highly successful CEO. I confused the job of leading with the jobs of those being led. In golf, business, and even government, we’d all do well to keep that lesson in mind.
What We’re Reading Today
Nevada kicks out DraftKings, FanDuel
The Nevada Gaming Control Board has ruled that daily fantasy sports games are a form of gambling, and therefore Jason Robins‘s DraftKings and Nigel Eccles’s FanDuel can’t operate in the state without proper gambling licenses. The two companies have commanded large valuations because their games are considered games of skill, not gambling, in (now) 44 states. Nevada is the first state to label daily fantasy sports a gambling venture. Fortune
Boeing’s concerning bubble
Delta Airlines CEO Richard Anderson threw cold water on Boeing’s stock price when he claimed there’s a “huge bubble” in used wide-body jets. He means a supply bubble, not a price bubble. Boeing’s 777s are most vulnerable, since they’re one of Dennis Muilenburg‘s company’s most profitable lines, and many of them are coming off lease. A glut of used wide-bodies could push down demand for new versions. Bloomberg
Tech IPOs stumble out of the gate
Only five of the 12 U.S.-based tech initial public offerings in 2015 have priced the company close to its private valuation. Over 82% of tech companies with IPOs priced similarly in 2014. The change indicates a slowing market and an important trend as Jack Dorsey‘s Square and other unicorns move forward with their own IPOs. Median valuations of companies that went public this year have increased only 32%, far below last year’s 61%. Reuters
Nigerian President fights graft with culture change
Muhammadu Buhari, president since May, has taken aggressive measures to fight corruption. He has delayed public contracts for review, begun monitoring government agency bank accounts, and overhauled the state oil company. Early results are promising, but the crackdown is slowing the economy of Africa’s most populous country. NYT
Building a Better Leader
Danny Meyer eliminates tipping at his restaurants
But does it make business sense, and will it catch on? Eater
Have to make a tough business decision
Always make sure to hold yourself accountable. Fortune
Wellness programs lose money…
…and may not be effective in improving employee health habits. Harvard Business Review
Apple’s newest patent foe: Universities
The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), University of Wisconsin-Madison’s licensing arm, sued Apple over chip efficiency technology and won, claiming $400 million in damages from Tim Cook‘s company. The two sides continue to wait for a monetary judgement. It’s unusual for universities to be so aggressive over patent claims, but WARF is the exception, filing 33 lawsuits since 2000. Reuters
Uber wins big UK case
A UK court ruled that Travis Kalanick‘s Uber app is not a taximeter, and therefore Uber service is not subject to the law that regulates licensed taxis in London. The London Taxi Drivers’ Association will appeal the decision. Fortune
FBI upset with Obama comments
The investigators looking into Hillary Clinton‘s use of personal email while she served as Secretary of State aren’t happy with President Barack Obama‘s comments on the importance of Clinton’s mistake on “60 Minutes.” Investigators reportedly felt the President cleared Clinton of wrongdoing before they reported their findings. NYT
Up or Out
Burberry Group has hired former Wal-Mart Asia CIO Fumbi Chima in the same role. WSJ
Lars-Henner Santelmann has been named head of Volkswagen Financial Services. He replaces Frank Witter, who became Volkswagen’s CFO. Reuters
Fortune Reads and Videos
Clinton’s $33M campaign war chest leads all candidates
But Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, with $27.1 million, is running a close second. Fortune
China’s No. 2 hints at weak economy
Premier Li Keqiang urges the top ranks of the government to reform for the economy’s sake. Fortune
McDonald’s franchisees disagree…
…with CEO Steve Easterbrook about the advantages of all-day breakfast service. Fortune
Theranos’s general counsel responds to allegations…
…that the company’s innovations in blood testing aren’t quite as innovative as investors thought. Fortune
On this day…
…in 1995, Nation of Islam founder Louis Farrakhan led the Million Man March, in which approximately 830,000 African-American men marched on Washington. The Nation
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|Produced by Ryan Derousseau|