CEO DailyCFO DailyBroadsheetData SheetTerm Sheet

Meet the woman at the top of this year’s list of the world’s greatest leaders

May 12, 2021, 1:02 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! The Washington Post gets a new editor, Rep. Liz Cheney prepares to lose her leadership spot, and Fortune’s list of the World’s Greatest Leaders has a new No. 1. Have a wonderful Wednesday.

– Meet the World’s Greatest Leader. Here at Fortune we love a good list. There’s the iconic Fortune 500, Most Powerful Women, 40 Under 40—the, well, list goes on.

But there’s something unique about our ranking of the World’s Greatest Leaders—the latest version of which published this morning. While many of our lists rely on “hard” metrics like company size or revenue growth, evaluating someone’s leadership is far more art than science. And each year we tweak and refine our definition of great leadership, taking the lessons of the past 12 months into account and doing our best to recognize the new face of leadership as it emerges.

This year, that face is a decidedly female one. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is our new No.1—the first time a woman has ever held the top slot solo. (Winners are sometimes part of a group.) For anyone who needs a refresher, what Ardern has accomplished in the past year-plus is astounding: she has all but eliminated COVID-19 in her country of nearly 5 million, with fewer than 3,000 cases and only 26 deaths. She’s adopted world-leading climate, gender-equity, and equal pay policies. Then, in March, New Zealand became the first country to require banks, investment managers and insurers to disclose the effects of climate change on their businesses. If only all world leaders could set the bar so high.

Ardern is certainly a singular leader, but she’s in great company on our list, which also includes NBA Players Association executive director Michele Roberts (one of the saviors of the league’s 2020 season), Ping An Group co-CEO Jessica Tan (a leader in China’s COVID response), Fair Fight’s Stacey Abrams (voting rights champion), Dolly Parton (American icon-turned vaccine funder), and many, many more inspiring women.

You can explore the full list here, and read more about how the past year has changed our ideas of leadership—and prompted many new faces to rise to the moment here.

Kristen Bellstrom
kristen.bellstrom@fortune.com
@kayelbee

The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Emma Hinchliffe

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

- GOP long game. In a speech Tuesday night, Rep. Liz Cheney prepared to lose her spot as the No. 3 Republican in House leadership when the House GOP conference votes today. She continued to stand by her argument that President Trump's denial of election results poses a danger to democracy–and is playing the "long game" as she continues to attempt to turn the Republican Party away from Trumpism. CNN

- Turning the page. Associated Press executive editor Sally Buzbee will be the next executive editor of the Washington Post, after the retirement of longtime editor Marty Baron. She's the first woman to hold the high-profile journalism job. You may remember her from our coverage of how her team at the AP prepared to call the 2020 election. Washington Post

- A.I. ethics. Google is planning to double the size of its artificial intelligence ethics team, VP of engineering Marian Croak said yesterday. That announcement is notable since it follows the controversy over the firing of A.I. ethics researcher Timnit Gebru and turmoil within the team at Google. Wall Street Journal

- Entrepreneurial spirit. Black women start businesses at higher rates than almost anyone else—17% of Black women are in the process of running new businesses, while just 15% of white men and 10% of white women are. But only 3% of Black women are running "mature businesses." New research examines where and why that drop-off occurs. Harvard Business Review

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Twitter hired Bumble's head of product design, Lara Mendonça, as senior manager of product design. Northwestern named Hari Osofsky, current dean of Penn State Law school, as dean of its Pritzker School of Law. Commonwealth Bank's Priscilla Sims Brown was named president and CEO of Amalgamated Bank. Anthemis's Jillian Williams joins Cowboy Ventures, focusing on fintech investing. MSCI named JP Morgan's Tia Counts chief diversity officer. Former Salesforce chief medical officer Ashwini Zenooz will join Commure as president and chief medical officer. Doximity promoted VP of strategic finance and financial planning and analysis Anna Bryson to CFO. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

- Alexa, who are you? Ever wondered who is the voice behind Amazon's Alexa? The tech giant has kept the virtual assistant's identity secret, but a new book by journalist Brad Stone reveals that voice actor Nina Rolle is the voice in question. When reached for comment, Rolle said she wasn't allowed to talk. Wired

- Pursuing parenthood. While birth rates seem to be falling amid the stress of the pandemic, for some women, the crisis made them realize that they're ready to be parents on their own. "The pandemic forced me to spend a lot of time with myself and my thoughts," says a California exec in her late 30s who moved forward with having a child by herself. "[I thought], why am I holding back on the joy I could be experiencing by starting my family sooner?" Financial Times

- NYC endorsement. In the NYC mayoral race, the New York Times endorsed Kathryn Garcia. The candidate ran the Sanitation Department under Mayor Bill de Blasio and has yet to break out in the crowded field. Other (male) candidates have suggested they would hire Garcia to critical roles in their administrations, and Garcia's pitch is to "cut out the middleman." New York Times

ON MY RADAR

Are you a Glennon or an Abby? New York Times

The story behind Stacey Abrams's fiction career The Atlantic

Awkwafina changes the rules of the game Allure

PARTING WORDS

"Somebody was trying to tell me the other day, 'Just make sure you don't get typecast, because you don't want to always be playing the powerful Black woman.' I was like, 'Yeah, I do. I also am one.'"

-Andra Day, who played the titular role in The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Our mission to make business better is fueled by readers like you. To enjoy unlimited access to our journalism, subscribe today.