Lessons for leaders in the week ahead:
-The Republican and Democratic primaries in Wisconsin tomorrow will highlight one of the most important abilities for any leader: adaptability. As of two weeks ago, neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton was supposed to be facing much trouble in Wisconsin, but polling released over the weekend suggests that both may be threatened. To what extent will either alter the strategies that have made them the frontrunners?
This is a classic problem for successful individuals and organizations, most of which find it impossibly difficult to give up what has worked for them in the past. So far, both candidates are barely tweaking past behavior. Trump is talking a bit more about women in an attempt to increase his minuscule support among them; Clinton is spending more time in Wisconsin than she had planned to, as Bernie Sanders’s poll numbers get dangerously close to hers. But neither is turning the steering wheel very far, and maybe neither will have to.
But if Trump loses tomorrow, his “inevitability” will look much less inevitable. If Clinton loses, it would be her seventh defeat in the past eight contests; even if she wins by only a small margin, she looks decidedly weaker. Then we’ll see who has the courage to accept the new reality, internalize it, and change course significantly.
-I admit that I’ve been rather desperately seeking a leadership angle in the Masters Tournament, which I continue to believe is the greatest reality show on TV and which begins Thursday. Medal-play golf is arguably the world’s most individual sport. Where’s the leadership? For the Masters, the answer is obvious: It’s the leadership of Augusta National Golf Club. This organization has created a kind of magic. The Masters is the sport’s most famous and most watched tournament because it’s the one that the world’s best golfers most want to win…which is why it’s the most famous and most watched, etc.
The explanation is brilliant leadership from day one in 1934, starting with founder Bobby Jones and, for 42 years, chairman Clifford Roberts. Billy Payne, chairman for the past decade, has maintained the standard. The story is too multi-faceted to tell here, but even if you’re not a golf fan, you may want to take a look at the TV coverage this weekend and marvel at this extraordinarily well managed institution.
-All good leaders want to get better, and anyone who wants to get better at anything should read a new book, published this week, called Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool. Ericsson, a professor at Florida State University, is the world’s preeminent authority on expert performance, and while many authors (including yours truly) have written about his work, this is his first book for a general audience; Pool is a science journalist who collaborated with him.
Rest assured that the book is not mere theory. Ericsson’s research focuses on the real world, and he explains in detail, with examples, how all of us can apply the principles of great performance in our work or in any other part of our lives. His uplifting message—and this is research, not up-with-people fluff—is that “people in every area of human endeavor are constantly finding ways to get better, to raise the bar on what was thought to be possible, and there is no sign that this will stop. The horizons of human potential are expanding with each new generation.”
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What We’re Reading Today
Alaska Air Group buys Virgin America
The owner of Alaska Airlines won a bidding war with a $2.6 billion offer. For Alaska CEO Brad Tilden, it will allow his company to expand on the West coast. It’s unclear, though, if CEO David Cush‘s Virgin America will continue operating under its name or get folded into Alaska Air. Fortune
SunEdison faces lawsuits ahead of potential bankruptcy
The solar energy company and its leaders have faced 24 lawsuits this year, including a major claim from Vivint Solar due to a failed $1.9 billion merger. Many of those suits have come in the past couple of months and are related to breach of contract claims. The company hasn’t had the chance to respond to all of the complaints. Ahmad Chatila‘s company is expected to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the next few weeks, after it only recently rose as a solar energy star. Reuters
Internal Trump campaign memo signals frustration
The memo, sent by senior campaign adviser Barry Bennett, urges others within Donald Trump’s campaign to ignore the criticism from the media and the “Washington establishment.” The memo was addressed to campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who was arrested for an alleged battery of a reporter, saying that the media’s “idiotic attacks just remind voters why they hate the Washington Establishment.” Washington Post
How Brazil’s leaders became corrupt
An interesting look at how the leftist government of Brazil came into office vowing to rid the nation of corruption, only to embrace the tactics they publicly sought to eradicate. The depth of the corruption became clear after Senator Delcídio do Amaral‘s arrest. A powerful figure in Brazil’s Senate, he turned on his allies, incriminating President Dilma Rousseff‘s inner circle and undoing her grip on the country. NYT
Building a Better Leader
When you’re ready to become a manager…
…ask your boss about the requirements, what skills best demonstrate your abilities as a leader, and how to demonstrate them. This will allow the company to see you as a serious contender. Harvard Business Review
To gauge a candidate’s interest in working for your company…
…don’t just ask them why they’re excited about the job. Ask them what they would do differently. Fortune
Companies are disproportionately prone to agreeing to a merger…
…with a business in the CEO’s home state. These mergers are, on average, viewed less favorably by the market than mergers outside the CEO’s home state. Quartz
The Panama Papers
A document leak of a secret Panamanian law firm…
…has unveiled the efforts to hide money by a number of high-ranking officials across the world. The documents detail over 40 years of efforts in building offshore companies by law firm Mossack Fonseca. Officials such as the Prime Minister of Iceland Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, and allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin moved money through banks or fake corporations. The documents themselves aren’t proof of any wrongdoing. Fortune
Leaders respond to the data dump
Putin has dismissed the papers. The Kremlin called them “a series of fibs,” even though Putin’s associates reportedly moved $2 billion through the offshore organizations. Iceland’s President Gunnlaugsson, when asked about his ties to an undisclosed offshore company owned by his wife, quickly ended a press conference calling the question inappropriate. And recently elected Argentinian President Mauricio Macri, who was listed as a director of a Bahama-based company, said he never owned shares in the company. CNNMoney
Fifa ethics committee member named in the report
Fifa’s independent ethics committee member Juan Pedro Damiani has a law firm that did business with one of former Fifa vice president Eugenio Figueredo‘s offshore companies, according to the data release. While nothing in the papers indicates wrongdoing, Figueredo has been indicted for money laundering charges in the U.S. It raises questions of Damiani’s ties while serving on the ethics committee. ABC News
Up or Out
ZTE Corp.’s CEO Shi Lirong will step down, pending board approval. CTO Zhao Xianming is expected to be named the successor. WSJ
Fortune Reads and Videos
London Stock Exchange CEO says if Brexit happens…
…the United States would have to “put Humpty Dumpty back together again.” Fortune
The newest email scam involves almost real speeding tickets
The wrinkle: those subject to the scams were actually speeding at the time and place that the scam indicates. Fortune
The average cost of a baseball game for two people…
…will come to $77.92 this year. But the gap between the cheapest and most expensive ballpark is about $110. Fortune
What it’s like to ride in a Tesla Model 3
There are some quirky design changes due to the differences between gas-powered cars and electric vehicles. Fortune
Richard Parsons, former chairman of Citigroup and AOL Time Warner, turns 68 today. Biography
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|Produced by Ryan Derousseau|