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Manage the Salesforce Way

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Understand the difference between management and leadership.
  • Identify the impact of leadership.
  • Understand Salesforce’s five characteristics of great management.
  • Determine the best way to get started to become a great manager.

Great Management

Are you a manager? Aspiring manager? Senior leader? If so, you’re in the right place.

In this module, we start by sharing research on what defines a great leader and a great manager. Then we zoom in on the management skills side of things. Why? Because regardless of your level, there are always new skills to learn and new behaviors to try out that can make you more successful.

Let’s get to it! People are at the heart of every business. And businesses cannot succeed without visionary leadership and great day-to-day management.

So what’s the difference between management and leadership? In a nutshell, leaders typically set vision and strategy and drive company goals. Managers work more at a team level, setting direction and priorities and focusing on execution.

A leader sets the vision for the company, a manager sets direction for the team and drives execution.

Can you be both a manager and a leader? Sure you can! Most leaders manage and lead people. All managers spend time leading, and all leaders spend time managing others—they aren’t mutually exclusive. How much you do of each depends on your level and role in your organization.

At Salesforce, we are committed to building both great managers and great leaders. We know great managers not only engage our people, they drive our business success. And the data backs this up. The Gallup article “Why Great Leaders Are So Rare” shows that businesses with great managers can double employee engagement and achieve more than 147% higher earnings per share than their competition.

Businesses with great managers achieve great business results.

A UK-based study by the Cranfield School of Management found that management and leadership skills had a clear link to the bottom line. And Aon Hewitt’s 2014 study called Top Companies for Leaders in Asia Pacific found that companies that invested in building leadership skills had a 9% higher shareholder return than those that didn’t.

Great management and leadership equals great business performance.

It’s a given that organizations with great leaders and managers get results. But there’s more than results that matter. What else? For us, it’s day-to-day behavior. We want our leaders and managers to act in ways that grow the business, build relationships, inspire and motivate, and ultimately create our unique Salesforce culture.

The starting point is knowing what makes a great leader and a great manager—what you do and say every day to make a difference. Many companies haven’t determined what great managers and leaders look like for them. We have, and we continue to refresh our expectations at each new stage of our growth.

It’s important to define and continue to refine what great looks like, because:

  • New forms of leadership are required as we change as a company.
  • We grow fast, becoming more complex and global every day.
  • Managers are eager to learn more about what it takes to successfully manage at Salesforce.
  • Employees want more structured support in our changing environment.

We held focus groups with leaders across the company and asked senior leaders:

  • What does it mean to be a great leader at Salesforce?
  • What are the behaviors you’re looking for in someone who is great versus average?

The result? We developed three frameworks that define:

GREAT Individual Contributors
GREAT Managers
GREAT Executives

We developed three GREAT frameworks: one each for individual contributors, managers, and executives.

We found that these roles shared five core characteristics, but that the day-to-day behaviors for individual contributors, managers, and executives looked different. Get all three frameworks by downloading this management pack.

Let’s focus on great management.

The GREAT Manager Framework:

  • Creates a common language for talking about great manager performance at Salesforce
  • Clarifies what Salesforce managers need to do every day to inspire and engage employees
  • Sets a framework for how we develop our managers to move from good to great
  • Helps us hold our managers accountable for being great

Ready to learn more? Let’s dive in!

Salesforce’s GREAT Manager Characteristics

Let’s take a look at the five GREAT Manager Characteristics. We’ll introduce you to a group of great managers who demonstrate these behaviors every day.

Salesforce Smart

Let’s start from the top—it’s important to know your business. Great managers know the Salesforce business, their own functional business, and their customer’s business. And there’s more. Great managers are innovative and help their teams experiment and think about things differently. They make sure their teams feel engaged and supported especially during times of change. Let’s get to know Sam, she’s Salesforce Smart!

Sam is Salesforce Smart! She knows the business, customers, and industry inside and out.

Wow, I love our business. There’s nothing better to me than learning about our competitors and customers. I encourage my team to see things in new ways and to come up with great ideas. Our business changes rapidly, and I always help my team understand changes that take place and how it connects to our work. I really care about my team. My team is awesome!

Get It Done

Great managers always help their teams get the work done well. For starters, they do a great job of prioritizing work and making sure each person on the team has a clear V2MOM. Great managers are focused on process improvement, and encourage the team to take calculated, well-thought out risks. They are resilient and don’t let challenges get in their way. Let’s hear from Gina’s team. They rave about how she helps them get it done.

Gina helps her team stay focused on the goal, even under tough circumstances.

Ever have a day when you were stuck or felt like you just weren’t sure what direction to head in? We don’t! Gina makes sure that our priorities are clear and that we have V2MOMs to guide us. She likes us to challenge the way things work and come up with new ways to improve our processes and systems. And if we fail, we know she has our backs. She helps us make things happen even when we face obstacles.


At Salesforce, we’ve developed our own approach to goal setting. Several of the GREAT Manager Characteristics are related to setting and executing goals. We call our goal setting process the V2MOM, which stands for Vision, Values, Methods, Obstacles, and Measures. Learn more about the V2MOM in the Organizational Alignment module.

Win as a Team

Great managers don’t achieve their goals on their own. They’re successful when their teams are successful. Great managers encourage collaboration, welcome debate, and help each person on the team feel included and important. Let’s hear what Winnie’s team has to say about her. They feel like winners thanks to her.

Winnie rocks! She helps our team understand that when we’re successful, Salesforce is successful. Because collaboration is so important to her, we’ve all learned to work well with other teams—they love to work with us. We know we can speak up and share different perspectives with her because she makes everyone on our team feel heard and respected. Winnie believes that we each have great ideas to contribute and that we’ll win together through our team effort.

Motivate and Champion

Great managers motivate their teams and act as a champion for team members. They coach and encourage their team to learn every day. They celebrate individual and team successes, and inspire everyone to do their best work. Let’s get to know Mo. His team thinks he’s the best manager they’ve had. What’s his secret?

Mo is great at motivating and championing his team.

Mo, your team loves working with you! They are clear on what they are accountable for and know they can stay on track with your support. Your team sees that you value your own development and they appreciate that you encourage them to continuously learn new things. They say that you have a great way of reading people which lets you work well with everyone, even in emotionally charged situations. Above all else, your team members feel empowered and know that you’ll help them be successful.

Courageous Communicator

Great managers are courageous communicators. They deliver messages effectively to diverse audiences because they always listen to understand first. They are bold when sharing their point of view, even when it may be an unpopular position. They are candid and respectful in all conversations. They aren’t afraid to be vulnerable, and they demonstrate humility. Let’s hear what one of Colin’s direct reports has to say.

Colin is authentic, consistent, and transparent.

If I had to sum Colin’s strengths up as a manager, I’d say he’s got amazing courage. What do I mean by that? He isn’t afraid to ask me for constructive feedback and really listens to it. I know I can trust him to be candid and insightful when giving me feedback. He doesn’t shy away from having difficult conversations and is not afraid to admit when he makes mistakes. People know that he listens to them and tailors what he shares with them to their needs. He’s a great listener, presenter, and overall communicator.

Values at the Core

It’s important to remember that no manager at Salesforce can be great without living our values in their daily actions. Great managers are role models of their company’s values. At Salesforce, our core values are Trust, Customer Success, Innovation, Equality, and Sustainability. Great managers strive to live the values in a way that is true for them, talk about the values openly, reflect the values in their own decisions, and advocate for others to make value-driven decisions.

Let's sum up what we've learned so far.

At Salesforce, we’re clear about what great looks like. We aim to hold our leaders and managers accountable for what they do and how they do it.

What about at your company? Do you know what’s expected of you? Do you know what great looks like? If you aren’t sure, ask. When you know what’s expected, it’s easier to identify your strengths and opportunities for improvement. That’s your chance to go from good to great.


Great frameworks:

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