Dan Streetman, CEO of TIBCO, on Integrity and Teamwork
We often hear of battle-tested leaders. But Dan Streetman, CEO of TIBCO, literally is one. Having served as a U.S. Army officer in combat operations – and received decorations including the Bronze Star – Dan appreciates how his experience translates to business: “My military duty helped prepare me for being a leader in sales and marketing, and now CEO.”
Since graduating from West Point and being deployed as an infantry officer in nine countries, Dan has found many opportunities to apply the core principles and approaches that underpin the military. Leading teams at industry giants including TIBCO, Siebel, Salesforce, and BMC, he has called upon lessons related to strategy, operations and tactics that he was first introduced to in the Armed Forces.
While Dan acknowledges that certain military metaphors are apt when it comes to business, he encourages a respectful use of such analogies. “I don’t like to talk about ‘going to war with our competitors’ or ‘being in the trenches’ because people are literally in combat on our behalf. I’m grateful for their service and don’t want to diminish that,” he says.
Dan is always eager to talk about the spirit of teamwork and importance of integrity that infused his time in the military. He’s a strong advocate for creating cultures of collaboration:
“If you stay true to who you are, do what you say you’re going to do, and work as part of a team, anything’s possible.”
Dan’s belief in that regard delayed his joining Salesforce for nearly a decade. When Salesforce was launched, Dan was leading sales and product management for Siebel. “It was exciting to see Marc launch Salesforce but I was part of a team focused on competing against them and launching Siebel’s sales.com portal. I had committed to the team and didn’t feel it was right for me to make that move,” he explains.
Once he did make the move, Dan was further exposed to the power of teamwork. Both at Siebel and Salesforce, Dan grew to appreciate the value of building an ecosystem of alliances to fully meet customer needs: “Modern partnerships are around collaboration and growing and getting better.” Pair this with Dan’s definition of leadership, and you understand how he rose to be CEO at TIBCO. “I believe you set the example from the front and you lead from the middle by gathering other people’s insights and perspectives.”
At TIBCO, Dan is leading an organization of more than 4,000 people with a goal of working together to drive innovation and solve the world’s most complex data challenges. Again, he falls back on his military training: “First and foremost, you identify your core mission. What’s your ‘why?’ From there, you can figure out your priorities and needed resources to succeed.”
It’s easy to see why Dan believes it’s smart for businesses to hire military veterans: “Veterans understand the value of teamwork and putting the organization first. Plus, they’re leadership inclined and most likely very internationally aware.”
Dan’s leadership is informed by the belief that societal challenges benefit from better data. It relates to his belief in purpose-driven leadership – work that drives toward the greater good. TIBCO supports data scientists tackling topics as broad as environmental protection and as focused as providing better, more integrated data to manage COVID-19. Dan calls it #TIBCO4GOOD.
Some of Dan’s other keys to success:
- Being honest. As a leader, Dan underscores the need to be honest about what teams and the organization are doing well and what they can do better.
- Always finding the silver lining. No matter what challenges he faces, Dan finds the positive takeaway.
- Scenario planning. Dan believes in planning for every outcome and asking questions to be as prepared as possible for anything.