Ten Questions Today’s Business Leaders Must Answer

November 21, 2019, 10:41 AM UTC

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Good morning.

The fundamental nature of business leadership has changed dramatically in the last decade, for a host of reasons I’ve discussed here before, including: the pace of technological change, the democratization of information, the demands of a new generation of workers, increasing inequality within societies, the poor performance of national governments, etc. As a result, the job of running a large company—particularly a public one—is more complex than ever before, and requires new skills and new modes of analysis.

At the Fortune Global Forum in Paris this week, James Manyika, chairman of the McKinsey Global Institute, nicely captured this metamorphosis with a list of 10 questions that today’s best business leaders feel they must answer. It’s a daunting list, but worth spending some time with. The questions:

  • What is our mission and purpose as a company?
  • How far do we go beyond shareholder capitalism? How are we accountable to different stakeholders?
  • Who benefits in our economic success? How?
  • What is the time horizon for managing our economic success and impact?
  • What is our responsibility to our workforce, especially given future-of-work
  • How do we leverage data and technology responsibly and ethically?
  • What are our aspirations for inclusion and diversity?
  • What is our responsibility for societal and sustainability issues involving our business, and beyond our business?
  • What are our responsibilities regarding participants in our platforms, ecosystems, supply and value chains and their impact on society?
  • How should we address the global and local (including national) imperatives and implications of how we compete, contribute and operate?

Tape that one above your desk. It’s a lot to ponder.

You can read more on Manyika’s analysis in this piece he wrote for Fortune. Also out this morning, Fortune’s annual investment guide, which will help you make the most in a volatile environment, here, here and here. Other news below.

Alan Murray


GM Sues Fiat Chrysler

General Motors is suing rival Fiat Chrysler, alleging that parent company FCA Group bribed UAW union officials for more favorable contracts. The racketeering suit alleges that former FCA chief Sergio Marchionne authorized the bribes, in violation of labor management laws and wire and mail fraud laws. GM recently had its own run-in with UAW, which saw the union shut down its production for almost six weeks. Washington Post

Aramco IPO

Saudi Arabia has sidelined most international banks such as JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley in the final stages of its local listing. Only three of the nine "global co-ordinators" will get oversight of all investor orders, and of those only one—HSBC—is not Saudi. This seems to be a result of the fact that international investors are staying away from the IPO. Financial Times

Political Advertising

Google is the latest Big Tech firm to place a limit on political advertising. It's not a Twitter-style ban, but Google will no longer let political advertisers target its users based on their political affiliation. It will also ban "deepfake" doctored videos and "demonstrably false claims," as well as misleading claims about the census. Over to you, FacebookGuardian

Apple Stumble

Apple was supposed to screen its flagship original film The Banker today at AFI Fest in Hollywood, ahead of a limited theatrical release that will itself precede the film's addition to the still-meager Apple TV+ lineup in January. But it pulled the screening at the last minute due to "some concerns surrounding the film." This may have to do with reports of a central character's family history being inaccurately portrayed. The festival will screen a Netflix production instead. Variety


Cannabis Legalization

The Democrat-controlled House Judiciary Committee has approved a bill that would legalize marijuana across the U.S. It is also likely to clear the House itself—but it's not likely to get anywhere in the Republican-controlled Senate. CNBC

CEO Factories

General Electric was famously a breeding group for America's CEOs, but these days Amazon has assumed that role, according to a Wall Street Journal piece. Interestingly, the piece notes that some of the ex-Amazonians who go on to become CEOs and entrepreneurs are happy to leave behind the company's preference for skills over social cohesion. WSJ

Autonomous Tesla

Tesla is scheduled to roll out "full self-driving" mode for some of its drivers in the coming weeks. But what does that actually mean? As Fortune's David Z. Morris explains, Tesla will still require that drivers be ready to intervene under some circumstances. But will drivers recognize that fact, and how will they react when the computer tells them to take over? Fortune

Labour Manifesto

The U.K.'s Labour Party launches its left-wing manifesto today, with leader Jeremy Corbyn seeking to leverage opposition from "the rich and the powerful" as evidence of how real the change is that he wants to introduce—he's even invoking the ghost of FDR, who took the same tack. The manifesto includes mass re-nationalization, free broadband, a new "living wage," a million new "green jobs," and a windfall tax on oil companies. Bloomberg

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer. 


Know a standout female leader at your company or another? Tell us about her! We’re taking nominations for Fortune’s upcoming Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit, where we convene ascending leaders to converse about business, share advice, and connect with one another. It’s Dec. 10-11 in Laguna Niguel, Calif. Submit your nominations to MPWNextGen@fortune.com. They can register here.


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