CEO DailyCFO DailyBroadsheetData SheetTerm Sheet

ServiceNow’s Bill McDermott says the rules of leadership have changed

July 14, 2020, 9:18 AM UTC

This is the web version of CEO Daily. To get it delivered to your inbox, sign up here.

Good morning.

There’s a new episode of our podcast Leadership Next out this morning, in which Ellen McGirt and I talk with Bill McDermott, CEO of ServiceNow, former CEO of SAP, and an inspiring example of the new style of leadership.

I first met McDermott ten years ago, backstage at Radio City Music Hall, where he was preparing to go onstage to give a talk on leadership and I was preparing to interview the legendary leader Jack Welch. For the podcast, I reminded McDermott of that meeting, and asked him about the change in leadership that’s occurred in the 20 years since Welch stepped down as CEO of General Electric. His response was worth capturing:

“Jack was an incredible force of nature. He figured you had to be number one or two in any business, and he held people highly accountable. And if you didn’t perform, you didn’t last long. That was a leadership style that proved to be highly successful for him.

“I do think the rules have changed so much. There is a bigger war for talent now than there ever has been. I believe you have to create cultures that have an enormous focus on purpose. And you have to create environments where people feel inspired to come to work. So the pendulum has really swung more toward a leader being absolutely in service to the employees and absolutely finding new ways to inspire them, new ways to innovate, new ways to bring out the best in them. And the accountability is in unleashing the entrepreneurial spirit versus managing hard line. There’s a soft touch that you need today that’s pretty unique.”

That, in a neat nutshell, is why we launched Leadership Next–to tell the story of how leadership has changed. There’s much more in this interview worth listening to, including how a working-class kid and deli manager from Queens managed to end up running a giant tech company in Germany.

And separately, thanks to those of you who inquired about my health. I got test results back yesterday, and I’m happy to report, courtesy of LabCorp, that 10 days ago I was COVID free. Still not sure how the whole test & trace thing is supposed to work with delays running that long. But I did learn something from this piece by former Fortune investigative reporter and editor Wyndham Robertson, who trained to be a contact tracer in North Carolina.

More news below.

Alan Murray


SoftBank's ARM

SoftBank is reportedly looking to offload ARM Holdings, the British chip designer, either through an IPO or a full- or partial sale. ARM is one of the most important companies in the tech world, as its designs power pretty much every smartphone out there—and soon, if reports are to be believed, Apple's laptops too. Wall Street Journal

WeWork hopes

WeWork chairman Marcelo Claure says the company—written off by many not so long ago—will be profitable by next year. Claure claims there is strong demand for WeWork office spaces now that large companies are telling their employees they can work from wherever they're located. Cost-cutting has also helped. Fortune

SiriusXM and Stitcher

Satellite and online radio giant SiriusXM is shelling out $325 million to buy Stitcher, the podcast and Internet radio service. The move should help Sirius in an increasingly competitive podcast landscape, with rivals that include the likes of Apple and Spotify. Sirius's podcast network includes shows from celebrities such as Conan O'Brien and Rob Lowe. Fortune

Ma stake

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma cashed out more than $8 billion worth of his shares in the company over the past year, leaving him with a stake of 4.8% rather than 6.2%. Ma retired as executive chair in September, and these days focuses on philanthropy. Executive vice chairman Joseph Tsai also offloaded shares worth more than $3 billion over the same period. Reuters


Q2 earnings

How bad will Q2 earnings be? Analysts say it will be the worst quarter of the current economic contraction, but some—including Goldman Sachs—argue that the estimates out there are too rosy. The bank is however very optimistic about 2021 and 2022. Fortune

U.K. recovery

The U.K. economy did not recover as much as hoped for in May. Economists thought they might see a 5.5% rebound but got just 1.8%. So, yet another reminder that the coronavirus recovery will be no quick affair. CNBC

COVID-19 immunity

A British study suggests that COVID-19 antibodies could last only a few months. The study has not yet been peer-reviewed, but if the findings are confirmed, then it could mean a potential vaccine would only have short-lived effects—and that "herd immunity" is a pipe-dream. Fortune

EU tax

The European Commission is looking at ways to get low-tax EU member states to change their ways, in order to make it harder for multinationals to exploit advantageous corporate tax schemes. This would be an unprecedented move requiring the approval of most—but not all—member states. Financial Times

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.