Donald Trump will likely announce his VP pick this week—the Republican convention starts a week from today—and I have nothing to add to the one zillion words that have been written about it. Whoever his choice, it will further stoke a larger argument that’s worth pondering for any leader: As a candidate, is Trump a bumbling incompetent or a canny disrupter?
The latest addition to the “incompetent” argument is this Washington Post piece describing in persuasive detail how Trump squandered the golden gift of FBI Director James Comey’s takedown of Hillary Clinton’s judgment and behavior. In a disciplined campaign, Trump would have talked about nothing else for a week. In reality, he went off-script within 24 hours, ranting about his retracted Star of David tweet and praising Saddam Hussein. Those remarks dominated the media coverage of Trump in the days after Comey’s statement. What should have been a great run for him turned into a terrible one, and Trump has never gained the momentum he should have built from the FBI news.
Oh, and remember the State Department Inspector General’s scathing report on Clinton’s email practices, released in May? Maybe not, because within 48 hours Trump made his speech denouncing Judge Gonzalo Curiel for his Mexican ancestry, which instantly dominated the political news. Another gift thrown away.
The only problem with the “incompetent” argument is that if it’s valid, Trump should be hopelessly behind in the race. Instead, he’s just slightly behind and clearly still competitive; the latest Real Clear Politics poll average shows him trailing Clinton by 4.5 points. Thus the “disrupter” argument. It holds that Trump is a viable candidate, having won the Republican nomination by a massive popular-vote margin over his closest competitor, Ted Cruz, because he has reconceived running for office.
Specifically, he’s following three precepts that violate conventional wisdom but now work powerfully: 1) Attitude is more important than policy positions. 2) Anger counts for more than logic. 3) Real-people language—genuine real-people language, not the fake variety that some politicians affect—is more valuable than sounding statesmanlike. Conventional candidates can’t even think in those terms. That, and his success so far, are the signs of a successful disrupter.
My take: Both arguments are valid, and the “incompetent” view will prevail. Trump’s disruptive strategy will attract a lot of votes, but as the most disliked nominee in modern history, he won’t attract enough to win. Nonetheless, we can be certain that politicians of both parties are studying the Trump phenomenon and how they can apply its lessons in their own careers.
Love him or hate him, the disrupter side of his performance has revealed important realities about the U.S. public. All leaders, not just politicians, will have to pay attention.
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What We’re Reading Today
Andrea Leadsom quits race for UK Prime Minister
The sudden resignation from the contest leaves Home Secretary Theresa May as the only candidate left in the race to succeed Prime Minister David Cameron. May—who supported the Remain side in the Brexit vote—held a large lead in support. A committee of Conservative Party leaders must decide if another candidate will be allowed to run or if May will become the Prime Minister. BBC
The UFC sells for $4 billion
Long rumored to be up for purchase, the mixed-martial arts franchise will sell nearly the entire organization to WME-IMG group. CEO Dana White confirmed the news, and will remain on following the sale. It’s the largest such sale of a sports entity in history. CBS Sports
Texas Governor suffers serious burns
Gov. Greg Abbott suffered second- and third-degree burns on his legs and feet after an accident involving hot water while on vacation. He may miss the GOP Convention due to the injury, but was able to make it back to Texas following the police shootings. Dallas Morning News
Brexit’s first victim?
J. Christopher Flowers, and his private equity firm, which specializes in distressed bank assets, has a large UK exposure in one of his funds that has invested in OneSavings. The bank has suffered heavy losses before and after the Brexit vote. Flowers had neared a deal to buy out investors in the fund that’s most invested in the bank, but that fell through after Brexit. Fortune
Building a Better Leader
Bringing large teams together like the military
If you want to unite a number of small teams for one cause, bring them together—in-person—to rehearse before the main event. Knowledge@Wharton
When looking to delegate…
…marketing, scheduling, and customer support are usually the first choices. But make sure there are systems in place to ensure these tasks are handled well. Fortune
For a mentorship to succeed…
…the mentor must gain some benefits from the relationship, not just the mentee. But the process of providing advice and answering questions can hone your leadership skills. LinkedIn
Elizabeth Holmes pushed positive spin to employees
Details of the Theranos CEO’s efforts to respond to problems at its Newark, Calif. lab have begun to come out. Holmes kept employees in the dark; many learned how dire Theranos’ situation was when the decision to void two years’ worth of lab test results was made public. It’s indicative of a culture of secrecy that Holmes built within the organization. On Friday, the government announced that Holmes will be banned from owning or running a lab for two years. WSJ
Walmart fights Prime Day with free shipping
Jeff Bezos‘ Amazon has set its Prime Day for July 12, which offers deals for Prime users and brings in more sales for the company than Black Friday. To combat this, Walmart is offering free shipping for five days starting on July 11. Doug McMillon‘s company is trying to lure more online shoppers, as its digital sales growth has recently slowed. Fortune
CEO that offered $70,000 minimum salary to his employees…
…won a lawsuit filed against him by his brother. Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments, was sued by his brother Lucas, who’s a minority owner in the company. The suit claimed Dan was paying himself excessively and Lucas wanted to force a sale of the company. The $70,000 wage hike was discussed in the trial, as Dan only told Lucas of his plan a few days prior to the the announcement. But a judge ruled that employee pay was up to management, not the board. Inc.
Fortune Reads and Videos
Another woman claims her career was “taken away”
...after she resisted Roger Ailes‘ sexual advances. Ailes has denied all claims. Fortune
As Shake Shack makes a big bet by opening on the West Coast…
…its CEO admits that even he likes to go to In-N-Out Burger when he flies to Los Angeles. CEO Randy Garutti says his company’s expansion doesn’t have to be at the expense of a competitor’s business. Fortune
Donald Trump considers a Democratic running mate
Trump is reportedly vetting retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, who is an outspoken critic of President Obama. Fortune
Hackers are spreading malware via Pokémon GO
It’s targeting Android phone users, providing a backdoor to their phones. Fortune
Quote of the Day
“The best interests of our country inspired me to stand for the leadership. I believe that in leaving the EU a bright future awaits, where all our people can share in a new prosperity, freedom and democracy. The referendum result demonstrated a clear desire for change – strong leadership is needed urgently to begin the work of withdrawing from the European Union. A nine-week leadership campaign at such a critical moment for our country is highly undesirable.” —Andrea Leadsom The Telegraph