Mark Cuban believes in small businesses -- and entrepreneurs. He owns a number of companies himself, including the Dallas Mavericks. A star on Shark Tank, he's invested in dozens of other ventures. If he had to start over tomorrow, he would find a job in sales and save up to start a new business.
(And, not incidentally, he's a really nice guy.)
As Cuban has said, "I love business ... because it's effort and ability. You can work on the ability side. You can work on the effort side. And accomplish anything."
"Anything" might even include running for president. Cuban has always been willing to share business advice, but in recent months he's shown greater interest in discussing public policy.
Including tweeting just this weekend that families should get $1,000 in stimulus checks every two weeks, with the provision that those funds must be spent within 10 days.
Why? According to Cuban, "It's time to face the fact that PPP didn't work. Great plan, difficult execution. No one's fault. The only thing that will save businesses is consumer demand. No amount of loans to businesses will save them or jobs if their customers aren't buying."
In addition, because this will take time, we need to consider an interim spending stimulus program. All 128m households could get a $1k check every 2 weeks for the next 2 months that MUST BE SPENT WITHIN 10 DAYS OF RECEIPT OR IT EXPIRES. This "use it or lose it" prog will-- Mark Cuban (@mcuban) May 17, 2020
Sound like someone considering a presidential candidacy?
Possibly. When asked, he responded, "I never would have considered it prior to a month ago, but now things are changing rapidly and dramatically. I'm not saying no, but it's not something I'm actively pursuing. I'm just keeping the door open. You just don't know what can happen between now and November."
More likely, though, Cuban's increasing willingness to suggest policy changes sounds like someone embracing the position -- and power -- of an informal leader.
Formal leaders are designed. They have the position, the title, and, theoretically, the authority.
Informal leaders build their own "followerships." People follow informal leaders because they want to, not because they have to -- and as a result, these leaders tend to have greater influence on the people around them.
Formal leaders are thermometers; rarely can they do more than indicate the process and guideline temperature.
Informal leaders are thermostats; they have the power -- because they've been given that power by the people around them -- to set the temperature. To motivate and inspire people. To lead by example. To create and maintain culture.
In part, they have that freedom because they aren't formal leaders. They can say what formal leaders often cannot. They can do what formal leaders often cannot.
Which is why, when informal leaders are designed as formal leaders, their influence often fades. The role is different. The expectations are different. The people they lead perceive them differently.
Every business needs thermometers and thermostats, but it's extremely difficult for a formal leader to overcome the inherent constraints that accompany designated authority.
And that's why Cuban hasn't ruled out running for president, yet it's also why, in my opinion, he won't.
In this case, informal leadership is more effective. He can suggest changes. He can propose policies. He can, through the influence given to him by the people who admire and respect him, bring attention to creative ideas and spark broader conversations. And leverage his position as a member of Trump's advisory council on reopening the country.
He could actually have more influence by not having the job: He can be presidential, without being president.
Which leads to a broader point.
Smart business owners spend considerable time identifying, nurturing, and developing informal leaders, because they realize informal leaders can sometimes be more effective than formal leaders.
Because they can be in charge without being the boss.