It may seem obvious, but today’s news reminds us of a centrally important, often overlooked leadership trait: A successful leader must want to lead.
Former senator Jim Webb dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination on Tuesday, which was hardly surprising. Polls showed his support was near zero, and he hadn’t raised nearly enough money to wage a credible campaign; he spoke for all of 15 minutes during last week’s two-and-a-half hour debate. But Webb wanted intensely to lead and still wants to. In announcing his withdrawal on Tuesday, he insisted that he was exploring an independent candidacy and that if he could attract enough initial interest, he’d raise a lot of money and would beat the major party nominees. That is all virtually impossible, but Webb’s intensity has come through powerfully during his brief run. He burns to lead.
Seemingly toward the middle of the spectrum is Joe Biden, who is said to be on the verge of announcing whether he’ll run for president. Maybe that on-the-fence image is inaccurate. Some say he wants desperately to be president, but as a two-time unsuccessful candidate he’s making a sober evaluation of whether his chances justify putting himself through the hell of running. In any case, unlike most of the candidates of both parties, he hasn’t been willing to hurl himself into the process just for the chance of having a shot and being in position to capitalize on some unpredictable twist in the campaign.
At the other end of the wanting-to-lead spectrum is Paul Ryan, who resolutely does not want to lead the House of Representatives as Speaker but may end up doing so anyway. On Tuesday evening, he reportedly told colleagues that he’ll run only if all three of the major House Republican caucuses first endorse him unconditionally—and if they don’t, he’ll be happy to stay right where he is. The drama of his possible election is consuming Washington, but if he runs and wins, then what? He supposedly holds the power to unite Republican representatives on issues including the debt ceiling and government funding, which seems unlikely, and he would be weakened by the universal knowledge that, like current Speaker John Boehner, he just doesn’t want the job—which is why he would presumably plan on giving it up ASAP after next year’s election.
During the campaign for the 2008 election, Saturday Night Live’s Darrell Hammond impersonated Republican candidate Fred Thompson, making fun of his obviously lukewarm interest in being president. In a fake TV commercial, Hammond had Thompson saying, “How badly do I want to be your president? On a scale of one to ten, about a six.”
It’s worth remembering that people deeply want to be led, and they want a leader who deeply wants to lead them. They can sense ambivalence. So here’s a thought to keep in mind as the actual casting of primary ballots draws near: Will voters believe that Donald Trump truly yearns to be president? Do you think he does?
What We’re Reading Today
Syngenta CEO steps down
Only two months after Mike Mack veered the Swiss-seed maker away from a takeover attempt by rival Monsanto, he has stepped down. At the time, Mack said the $46 billion offer didn’t properly value the company, but shareholders were upset when they weren’t consulted more about the merger. CFO John Ramsay will replace Mack on an interim basis until a permanent successor is named. WSJ
Paul Ryan will run for House Speaker…
…if a few conditions are met. In a meeting with House Republicans, Ryan said he would consider running for Speaker if key GOP factions publicly support his ascendancy before the end of the week. Ryan also said he would seek to change the rule that allows a majority vote to remove a sitting Speaker. The various groups within the GOP had not come to a decision on Ryan’s terms. Washington Post
Syrian leader meets with Putin
In a surprise visit to the Kremlin, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. It’s Assad’s first overseas trip since civil war broke out in Syria in 2011. It’s a sign that Assad feels more comfortable in his position now that Russian planes have led airstrikes to fight militant groups, like the Islamic State, in the country. BBC
First Data’s turnaround started at the top
When Frank Bisignano took the helm of the struggling payment processor, it appeared the $30 billion leveraged buyout by KKR had turned into a disaster. The plan was to shrink the company to make it more nimble. Bisignano shunned the idea, rebuilding talent and turning the firm into a tech juggernaut instead. Fortune
Building a Better Leader
Mixing content strategy with activism
Patagonia tries its hand at growing its brand using causes that hit at the hearts of potential customers. Fast Company
This engineering company has never had layoffs…
…or an opening. Fortune
Need to keep your best employees?
Consider implementing ‘stay interviews.’ Training
Tesla Model S dropped from Consumer Reports
Despite a number of rave reviews about the vehicle from Consumer Reports, the publication dropped its recommendation due to complaints from buyers. The complaints ranged from squeaking noises, door handle problems, and engines that need to be changed out. Elon Musk‘s cars have been revered partly because of the reviews in publications such as Consumer Reports. The demotion comes as production issues have slowed the supply targets of the next vehicle installment, the Model X. Consumer Reports
Honda, Takata hid airbag study from regulators
By 2012, Takata and Honda knew that the use of ammonium nitrate was likely causing airbags to explode, according to a study by Penn State University, which the companies commissioned under the condition that they were not named in the research. Takata then disputed the findings once they were released, only providing results to regulators two years later. It has led to the largest recall in U.S. history, with 19 million affected vehicles. NYT
Uber CEO: Our drivers don’t work enough…
…to be considered full-time employees. Travis Kalanick said that over 50% of Uber drivers work less than nine hours a week. Uber may use this fact as a defense in a class-action lawsuit in California court from drivers who claim the company misclassified them as contractors. Fortune
Up or Out
Square has hired former Yahoo chief development officer Jacqueline Reses to head its financing service. Fortune
Owens-Illinois has named Andres Lopez its next CEO, effective at the beginning of 2016. Current CEO Al Stroucken will retain his role as executive chairman. Nasdaq
Jill Hazelbaker, who joined Snapchat a year ago as its PR and policy head, will join Uber as its VP of communications and public policy. Re/code
Fortune Reads and Videos
Michael Dell comments on EMC
And defends the planned merger against recent remarks from HP CEO Meg Whitman. Fortune
Yahoo to delay Alibaba spinoff
Marissa Mayer won’t likely move forward with the spinoff until January or later to give time for the Yahoo board and the SEC time to review the move. Fortune
CVS will remove automated tellers from some stores
Humans win this round. Fortune
Over 50% of restaurant workers admit to…
…working while sick. Fortune
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, turns 66 today. Biography
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|Produced by Ryan Derousseau|