Economics/Class Relations

Efficiency and empathy. Can Salesforce have both?

April 1, 2023

 

A NOTE FROM OUR EDITOR-IN-CHIEF ALYSON SHONTELL

Happy Saturday!

Fortune magazine’s latest cover story is out and the subject is Marc Benioff. It digs into an important question all leaders face as economic headwinds strengthen: Can you be both an efficient and empathetic leader at the same time? The Salesforce founder spent years creating a beloved internal culture that has ranked highly on Fortune‘s 100 Best Companies To Work For list. But can great company culture survive when CEOs are forced to tighten their belts?

 

Tech editor Alexei Oreskovic breaks down Benioff’s dilemma, below:

If you live in San Francisco, Salesforce is a big presence. It’s the city’s largest private employer, its carnival-like Dreamforce conference shuts down several blocks of the downtown area for a few days every year, and its namesake tower soars higher than any other building, dominating the skyline.

 

Marc Benioff, Salesforce’s garrulous founder and CEO, is also a big part of the company’s aura. An outspoken advocate of stakeholder capitalism and corporate responsibility, Benioff has infused the company with progressive values and so-called empathetic leadership principles.

 

Lately, though, there has been a noticeable disturbance in the force at Salesforce. Benioff has laid off thousands of employees and cut costs amid a slowing economy and pressure from activist investors. As you might imagine, it has not gone over well with Salesforce employees accustomed to being told they were “family.” The fallout has been chronicled for several months by Fortune reporter Kylie Robison, who has delivered a string of scoops about the goings-on inside Salesforce at this pivotal juncture.

 

For our upcoming print issue, Fortune editor-at-large Michal Lev-Ram interviewed Benioff to better understand how his approach is changing, and how he is reconciling his values with the difficult demands of the current business climate. The 58-year-old San Francisco native insists he’s just as committed to his principles as ever. But, in a classic bit of Benioff flair, he says he also assesses new challenges—whether it be the post-pandemic work policies or market gyrations—with a Japanese concept about having an open mind. From the story:

 

“I think you have to have, as the Japanese say, shoshin, or beginner’s mind,” the CEO tells Lev-Ram. “As the leader, you have to realize that the past is gone, and that you’re going to have to create a new future. But it also means that the kind of leadership notion that you’ve had in the past is also gone. In the expert’s mind, there are few possibilities, but in the beginner’s mind, there’s every possibility.”

Click the link below to read the full story about Benioff’s evolution as Salesforce CEO.

 

Marc Benioff says he can juggle empathy, cost cuts, and layoffs as he doubles down on efficiency at Salesforce
BY MICHAL LEV-RAM

 

MARCH 30, 2023

 
Fortune’s top trending stories:

MAGAZINE

How Binance really operates: The world’s largest crypto exchange boasts vast profits, hefty influencer payouts, and a ticking time bomb on its balance sheet

Binance’s big investments in its own BNB coin and in kickbacks to social media influencers could expose it to bigger risks.

4 young conference founders bought a $40 million Utah ski mountain to build a utopia for tech elites. Ten years later, it’s still a stalled mess

The Summit Series conferences are known as “TED meets Burning Man” extravaganzas. But building an eco-friendly resort community for the rich and famous is quite a different undertaking.

Over 150,000 people have been let go so far this year. Are layoffs a confession of bad management?

If 2023 is “the year of efficiency,” what were the CEOs of Meta, Amazon, and others doing in all those previous years?

FINANCE

World Bank says global economic growth is nearing a ‘speed limit’ and it could be a ‘lost decade in the making’

The past 30 years of economic growth and development could be reversed this decade if governments don’t act.

How Credit Suisse redefined the IPO market during the Dot-Com boom—then lost its grip and spiraled into scandal

In its glory days, Credit Suisse helped put Silicon Valley on the map.

SUCCESS

These are the job interview questions people hate answering—and how to approach them

Hearing the words “tell me about yourself” in a job interview might be a nightmare scenario for some jobseekers—but experts say it needn’t be.

The majority of Americans don’t feel employers provide fair workplaces—and it could lead to more resignations

Not only are so many workers seeing inequities in their organizations—a significant number of Americans say there’s no accountability.

LEADERSHIP

Google, Meta, Salesforce, and more get tough on employee evaluations. Here’s how they’re overhauling performance reviews

Tech companies are among the employers toughening performance reviews to weed out underperformers.

Founders and CEOs look at a possible TikTok ban in fear: ‘No other platform does this as successfully’

With over 1 billion monthly active users on TikTok, concerned CEOs and small-business owners tell Fortune how their reach and revenue would be hit by a ban.

TECH

How Lyft’s new CEO ‘got really good at doing more with less’ leading a nonprofit for 14 years and why he thinks it could save the rideshare company

In its effort to reverse its long running lack of profit, Lyft has hired a new chief executive from an odd place: a nonprofit organization.

Elon Musk and Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak among over 1,100 who sign open letter calling for 6-month ban on creating powerful A.I.

The letter calls on technology companies and governments to create safety standards and control mechanisms for powerful A.I. before resuming work on developing such systems.

 

 

 
Meet this pro pickleball player earning six figures at 16 years old
Leadership Next: Chemours CEO on cleaning up the chemical titan’s legacy
 

 
Check out what’s new from Fortune!
An investment in your career that pays dividends

Fortune Connect is the new, cutting-edge leadership development community designed for the next generation of purpose-driven leaders who want to change business for good.

 

Ready to accelerate your career? Learn more

 
 

 

Subscribe to The Trust Factor to get a weekly guide to earning, retaining, and strengthening trust throughout your business—the new KPI executives need to succeed.
 

Leave a Reply