The most successful companies are run by CEOs who have one "critically important" trait in common: They pay attention to detail.
"They're unbelievably detail-oriented," says Stanford economics professor Nicholas Bloom in a WNYC "Freakonomics Radio" podcast. "That's one of the big ingredients of their success."
Bloom points to companies like General Electric, McDonald's and Walmart. These companies are so successful, he says, because they focus on having competent managers who pay meticulous attention to detail.
Successful CEOs do a variety of things to ensure that nothing is overlooked, explains Bloom. They collect data, they analyze what's going on, and they have thorough performance reviews.
This management practice is what sets them, and their companies, apart from others.
Bloom, along with Harvard Business School economics professor Raffaella Sadun and MIT economist John Van Reenen, studied 12,0000 companies to try to learn what makes some better than others.
The researchers found that "management practices can account for a large fraction of performance differences."