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A CEO sharpens his eye for detail

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Marc Benioff founded Salesforce.com in 1999. A pioneer in cloud computing, it now employs more than 13,000 people with annual revenues about $5 billion.

Benioff, 50, anticipated his customers’ needs before they realized what they needed. In 1999, companies didn’t want their information stored in a huge database in what’s now known as the cloud. But Benioff saw the future and pounced.

Benioff coupled his big-picture thinking with a keen eye on detail. When Benioff interviewed a job candidate, George John, to fill a product management position, John was struck by Benioff’s probing personality.

“I felt like I should have paid him afterward for his incisive analysis of my interests and strengths,” John recalls.

Many CEOs, by contrast, talk too much when interviewing top candidates. Instead of uncovering their interests and strengths, some bigwigs lecture applicants about the company’s culture, history and their own brilliance as leaders.

Benioff’s attention to detail carries over into his everyday behavior. When he strolled by a sales representative’s desk, he noticed the rep’s computer screen lacked a new feature that should have allowed him to access the company’s latest software upgrade. The problem was promptly addressed.

At the time, Salesforce.com was a major operation with 500 employees. Benioff’s concern about a minor issue inspired his team to treat every product release as an important event.

— Adapted from “What these 6 CEOs learned from working at Salesforce,” Erika Morphy, www.citeworld.com.

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