In the olden days, voters during presidential races would get into heated arguments over such amusingly quaint topics as tax policy, health care, and the future of Social Security. Back then, the release of a major candidate’s paid speeches to a leading firm in a highly controversial industry – speeches that the candidate had refused to release, despite considerable public interest – would have been an important event.
Can you imagine?
Of course exactly that happened over the weekend, when WikiLeaks published transcripts of three speeches that Hillary Clinton gave, for $225,000 each, at Goldman Sachs conferences in 2013, shortly after she’d stepped down as Secretary of State. America’s response was a brief shrug by the minority of voters who even noticed the transcripts.
In those long ago days, the transcripts would have been scrutinized and analyzed with good reason. Bernie Sanders’s challenge to Clinton in the primaries forced her far to the left on several issues, and many potential supporters question the sincerity of her new string-’em-up attitude toward the big Wall Street banks, especially after the recent revelation that she has at least twice as many six-figure donors as Donald Trump. The transcripts, in which she’s distinctly friendly and flattering toward Goldman and the industry, would have attracted attention. But now the race has moved beyond policy, or rather beneath policy, to the personal.
In one of those transcripts, a clever questioner asks Clinton for her advice to someone thinking of running for president in 2016. Her prophetic answer, in part:
“Whoever runs next time has to have a very clear idea of where he or she wants to take the country and has to run on those ideas, because the election cannot be about personalities, participants sniping. All of the irrelevant stuff the day after the election sort of dissipates, and you wake up and say, okay, now what am I going to do?”
Assuming she wins, as now seems likely, she’ll wake up on Nov. 9 believing she ran on clear ideas and seeing her victory as a mandate to pursue them. But polling shows that most voters on both sides aren’t voting for their candidate’s policies; they’re voting against the other candidate. Instead of favoring a set of policies, we’re mostly antagonistic toward a person, whether it’s Trump the psychopath or Clinton the demon. When an election turns on personalities rather than policies, then when we wake up on Nov. 9, regardless of who wins, we’ll be asking ourselves, now what are we going to do?
A certain genre of leadership books offers leadership lessons from a wide range of historical figures, including Santa Claus. A new entry rises high above most of the others, and I highly recommend it. The Leadership Genius of Julius Caesar by Phillip Barlag, published today, delivers just what it says, and if you’re like me, you’ll be astonished.
Barlag’s theme is that Caesar, like all effective leaders, led through power, not force. That is, “He did not compel followers through threats, fear, or intimidation. He understood the source of a leader’s power: the incentive and desire for someone to follow of their own free will.” Barlag shows how Caesar applied that principal in eight ways, each illustrated with a mind-blowing episode from Caesar’s eventful life. This book isn’t a long read, but it’s an impressive one that you will not forget.
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What We’re Reading Today
Donald Trump continues “rigged election” message
Trump and surrogates Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich expressed concern over the weekend that polling places could be rigged and that the media are biased in support of Hillary Clinton. Gingrich called for Trump supporters to monitor polling places on Election Day. Trump running mate Mike Pence tried to back away from the message, saying he and Trump will accept the election results. CNN
Brexit could cost Britain billions…
…in order to keep access to European Union markets. Prime Minister Theresa May is considering whether the country will negotiate payments for market access. Some business people fear Britain will try to work outside the single market post-Brexit in order to keep control of immigration. Fortune
Hillary Clinton embraces covert actions overseas
But she says it works only if it remains secret. Clinton made the statements in a speech at a Goldman Sachs event, the transcript of which was published by WikiLeaks over the weekend. She advocated covert actions in Syria while secretary of state in order to counter Russian influence supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. NYT
Building a Better Leader
When fixing an organizational problem…
…remember that management has had time to analyze the problem and figure out a solution, but employees may be hearing about the issue for the first time. They need time to process the information. NewCo Shift
Small moves can still lead to the C-Suite
Sometimes a lateral move is the right one if it means you’re gaining skills you’ll need in order to make bigger jumps in your career. Fortune
Are you being too helpful?
Leaders who give step-by-step instructions to solve employees’ problems aren’t giving their team the chance to come up with creative solutions themselves. SmartBrief
Ford broadens its message
CEO Mark Fields has turned the message of “One Ford” into a dueling battlecry, with one part of the carmaker focusing on vehicles while the other becomes a transportation services provider. It’s Fields’s way to embrace the simultaneous rise of electric power, autonomous technology, and ride-sharing. But it’s a move away from the simple message former CEO Alan Mulally used to save the company in the financial crisis. WSJ
PepsiCo sets sugar reduction target
The soda maker will set a goal to increase the proportion of drinks with fewer than 100 calories from added sugar to two-thirds of its beverage stock by 2025; it’s currently 40%. CEO Indra Nooyi sees the initiative as a way to address changing consumer tastes and rising health concerns. Reuters
Cisco Chairman: U.S. at risk of being left behind
John Chambers says America needs to position itself better for the digital age with education and infrastructure spending reform. He says, “I find it ironic we’re the only major country in denial” about how technology is changing work and the global economy. Fortune
Up or Out
Sears has named Jason Hollar CFO. WSJ
Dalian Wanda has hired Andrew Kam to run its theme park business. Kam had previously worked as managing director of Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. Fortune
Fortune Reads and Videos
U.S. prepares major cyberattack on Russia
The CIA has created scenarios that include hacking government officials’ email or devices for embarrassing information. Fortune
Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel pledges $1.25 million for Trump
But Hillary Clinton still holds a wide lead in campaign support from the technology industry with $7.7 million raised, according to Crowdpac. Fortune
Samsung safety-tested Galaxy Note 7 batteries…
…at its own facility. It’s the only phone manufacturer to use internal labs to test batteries. Fortune
Tesla postpones a big announcement
It was supposed to happen today, but CEO Elon Musk says that, whatever it is, it “needs a few more days of refinement.” Fortune
Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon turns 50 today. Boardroom Insiders