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Power Sheet – December 4, 2015

December 4, 2015, 3:17 PM UTC

Let’s look at four leaders in the news this morning – two to applaud and two to boo.

House Speaker Paul Ryan continued to lead Republicans in setting a policy agenda, or at least tried to, in a high-profile speech yesterday. Not that he was very specific; his objective was to rally his party to “show what we would do, what our ideal policy would be looking forward to 2017 and beyond. We owe it to the country to offer a bold, pro-growth agenda.” Offering a clear program of what it favors, not just what it opposes, is exactly what the party has not done, and that drives Ryan, a policy wonk, nuts. He stated his big-picture goals: “simplifying the tax code, introducing greater competition into the health insurance market, promoting trade, and generating jobs that propel people out of poverty.” How many Republicans will get on board remains to be seen.

The cluelessness and arrogance of suspended Fifa president Sepp Blatter continue to astound. Yesterday, 16 more defendants were arrested in the widening Fifa corruption scandal, and the U.S. Justice Department announced that eight defendants previously charged had pleaded guilty. And on that same day, an adviser said that Blatter would like to be named Fifa’s honorary president. The mind reels. Since the scandal broke in May, Blatter has insisted that he knew nothing about the widespread bribery that defendants were charged with, though everyone else in the soccer world has known about it in a general way for years. Now, he says, not only is he blameless; he should be honored. I’m not sure what the opposite of leadership is called, but we’re looking at it.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, fighting a mammoth corruption scandal, may be impeached. The country’s lower legislative house approved the case against her Wednesday evening. The road to impeachment remains long, and she may well be able to stop her opponents, but the process will paralyze the country as it suffers through a deep recession, and virtually no one but her loyalists believes she can remain untainted by the scandal. Her response is simply stout denial and denunciation of the other side.

Leadership lessons surround us every day, and they make reading the news much more engaging.

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What We're Reading Today

Uber competitors unite

Four ride-sharing companies - Lyft, Ola, Didi Kuaidi, and GrabTaxi - have joined forces, letting customers book rides from all the services through any of their apps. The companies will also share technology, local knowledge, and resources. Lyft CEO Logan Green has made other deals such as this in attempt to gain footing against Travis Kalanick's Uber in Asia. Quartz

Avon faces potential proxy war

Nearing a sale of its  North American unit (2014 revenue: $1.2 billion) to Cerberus Capital Management, the beauty products company now faces a challenge by activist investors. Barington Capital is leading a charge to stop the deal and argues Cerberus originally bought Avon shares at a "fire sale" price. The group opposing the sale also wants to remove management, including CEO Sheri McCoy Fortune

Zenefits battles former employees over vacation days 

The HR software startup valued at $4.5 billion has offered cash payouts to avoid lawsuits by former employees over pay for unused vacation days. Zenefits argues it has always had an unlimited time-off policy, under which unused vacation days don't have to be paid for, but an employee handbook last year called it "paid time off," which would require the days to be paid for. The Parker Conrad-run company has asked former employees to agree to the cash payout by Dec. 11.  BuzzFeed

Senate votes to appeal Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood

In a 52-to-47 vote, the Senate agreed to cut key provisions in the healthcare bill - including the individual mandate to own health insurance - and remove funding for Planned Parenthood for one year. While the GOP-controlled Senate has wanted to repeal Obamacare, it hasn't had the votes to circumvent filibusters. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell used a budget procedure to bring the bill to the floor. President Barack Obama will assuredly veto the bill if the House approves the measure.  USA Today

Building a Better Leader

The most destructive phrase in business

Columbia Business professor Adam Galinsky says it's "we need to talk." It creates a power dynamic and is filled with ambiguity. Inc.

To increase women in the workplace...

...introduce candidates to their role models and implement family-friendly policies. Fortune

To create a successful wellness program...

...tap leaders for inspiration, offer health related incentives, and share the results. SmartBrief

Inside Government

Defense Department opens all combat jobs to women

The move by Secretary Ash Carter overturns a rule that restricted women from combat roles. It will open 220,000 military jobs to women and comes as a deadline by the White House to force this measure approached in January. NYT

Paul Ryan lays out conservative agenda 

In a speech that lacked details, House Majority Leader Ryan said that Republicans need to start solving problems facing their constituents. He pleaded repeatedly for big ideas and said that in 2016 he would push legislation through the House even under the threat of veto. The speech may have been directed at GOP House members, encouraging them to follow his lead.  Yahoo

The Secret Service is an "agency in crisis"

A report released by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform says the Secret Service has suffered since 2011 from budget cuts, long hours, mismanagement, and sinking morale. Public embarrassments, including a prostitution scandal, have resulted. The agency says that Director Joseph Clancy, appointed last February, has taken a number of steps to fix the problems.   Fortune

Up or Out

Ulrich Hackenberg, a member of Audi's management board, has resigned. He was one of eight executives suspended for his suspected involvement in evading emissions rules through software in the vehicles.  NYT

Fortune Reads and Videos

Net neutrality heads to court

The telecom industry has sued the FCC over its net neutrality laws; the D.C. circuit court of appeals will hear the case today. Fortune

Mark Zuckerberg responds to critics

He says there's nothing strange going on with his charitable foundation, which is set up as a limited liability corporation instead of a non-profit.  Fortune

Microsoft's latest critic: Former CEO Steve Ballmer

Ballmer called Microsoft's revenue reporting “bulls–t.” Fortune

Tinder for mergers and acquisitions  

New software from Axial Networks eases the courting process between companies. Fortune

Today's Quote

Jay Z, rapper and owner of streaming music service Tidal, turns 46 today.  Biography

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo turns 58 on Sunday.  Biography

Utah Representative Mia Love, the first African American woman elected to Congress as a Republican, turns 40 on Sunday.  Biography

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Produced by Ryan Derousseau