“At the end of the day, you have the ultimate say as CEO,” Manning says. “You have to be ready to make a decision. You have to be able to say it’s this or it’s that. If you don’t, everything might grind to a halt waiting for you.”
Learning the ropes
During the acquisition of NetBeans, Stanek learned a lesson that still affects the way he makes decisions 17 years later. The entire deal kept getting held up over small wordings in the contract, phrases that sparked chains of emails and spats between the two sides.
Stanek had hired his own acquisitions team, and finally he realised that the two sides, working in different offices, simply needed to get together to work things out. When they were finally in the same room, the deal went through.
“What I learned is that distance creates mistrust,” Stanek says. “People who never met were fighting over wording. They would have found a middle ground if they met.”
Now, Stanek makes a point of having those working on a project from a distance meet early on, making a personal connection that helps later if things go wrong.
“As a CEO, that was a good experience to go through, even though it was very painful,” Stanek says.
If you’re moving up to the top, that kind of trial might be waiting for you. But learn from it, figure out how to make the big decisions and you’ll find a comfortable home in the corner office.
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