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The best new books on how to lead from a distance—and design a market to combat climate change

May 24, 2021, 8:54 AM UTC

Good morning.

Two books out this week are worthy of attention.  

The first, called Leading at a Distanceis from Spencer Stuart’s James Citrin and Darleen DeRosa, and it provides practical guidance to all CEOs still struggling to figure out the new world of work—which is to say, all CEOs. I spoke to Citrin and DeRosa last week. Citrin told me:

“What has happened in the last 15 months, and what is going to happen in the next year or two, is an acceleration of the trends in how leadership works Command and control and hierarchical leadership literally doesn’t work. You can’t be micromanaged, and employees have to invest their discretional effort. Leaders are engaging more than ever with authenticity and vulnerability.”

The two studied 600 virtual teams and found the highest-rated teams “are high on both purpose and process.” Purpose gives them the motivation to give their best; process ensures the basics of goal setting and decision making are handled promptly and properly.

The other book is Value(s) by Mark Carney, who served as governor of the Bank of England, and the Bank of Canada before that. He says the book is his reflection on how to turn around a society that seems “to embody Wilde’s aphorism—knowing the price of everything but the value of nothing.”

A good part of the book addresses creating the market mechanisms to meet climate challenge. When I spoke with him last week, he agreed that business is increasingly stepping up to the challenge. It’s been building for a few years. It started in earnest about 18-20 months ago. Within the financial sector, this is a top three strategic issue.” Like me, Carney had worried the COVID-19 crisis would cause people to back away from costly climate commitments. But instead, the opposite happened. I asked him why.

“What did people take from the COVID crisis? It had much more of a feeling of a bolt from the blue. But this was predicted by science; scientists had told us it was going to happen. It underscored that you have to invest in resilience, and we are all in this together, and we have to work together.”

News below. And check out former Aetna CEO Ron Williams’ piece on why business leaders shouldn’t—and can’t—avoid speaking out on voting rights.

Alan Murray


Mask free summer

In the U.S., COVID-19 cases have hit their lowest level in almost a year, according to data from Johns Hopkins, with about 39% of the population fully vaccinated, and with 49% of the population having received at least one shot—just in time for Memorial Day weekend. Of course, there's a very different picture in other parts of the world: India has now recorded 26 million cases. CNBC

Bitcoin rollercoaster

Bitcoin's bumpiness didn't stop this weekend—its measure of volatility is above what a measure traditionally used to track stock markets has seen in three decades, with double-digit percentage swings. Two common themes: the tweeting of Elon Musk—lately, about bitcoin's environmental footprint—and China's warnings of a crackdown. Bloomberg

Plane diversion 

Political outrage is growing after a forced diversion of a Ryanair plane, which was flying between Athens and Vilnius. The plane was forced to land in Belarus—where a 26 year old political activist onboard was arrested. Belarusian media reported the arrest had been made after a false bomb alert, in an incident raises thorny questions for civilian airlines and European politicians alike. BBC

Wuhan lab 

Mystery is once again growing around the Wuhan Institute of Virology, after a U.S. intelligence document reported that three researchers from the lab became sick enough they had to go to hospital in November 2019, roughly around the time that many epidemiologists believe the virus began circulating around Wuhan. However, the Chinese government has always denied that there is any evidence the virus escaped from one of the labs. WSJ


Olympic Dreams 

Masayoshi Son, the CEO of SoftBank, tweeted out his alarm over Japan hosting the Olympics this summer, saying the pace of the vaccine campaign in the country meant hosting posed significant risks. Meanwhile, the Japanese government is pushing for inoculations to speed up in a race against time. The drama, the pandemic aside, hits on an awkward truth: regular citizens are much less interested in hosting the Olympics than they once were, as Fortune's Viv Walt writes. Fortune

Baby bust

Demographers predict that around the mid point of this century, deaths will officially outweigh births, sending the global population into longterm decline—for the first time ever. Falling fertility rates will make first-birthday parties a rarer sight than funerals, the New York Times writes, and require huge adjustments in how our economies work. NYT

Hollywood's big summer 

Multiplexes in the U.S. are open for business, in what the WSJ calls a "referendum on the industry"—an $11 billion business just in the U.S. alone. This weekend, the latest "Fast & Furious" film debuted with a strong opening weekend, and Disney's "Cruella" and Paramount's "A Quiet Place Part II" will be the next movies to test the industry's strength— and whether fans will both head to theaters while keeping the streaming business afloat from home. WSJ

Sweden's favorite backpack 

If you followed Fortune's coverage of the buzzy rise of Dr. Martens, here's another story of a legacy European brand: Fjällräven. A hit with hipsters and hikers alike, Fortune's Eric J. Lyman takes you through the brand's rise and rise. Fortune

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by Katherine Dunn. 

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