What does it mean to manage and lead a company?
I am often asked things like that and also things like “What exactly do you do?”
The first question is way easier to answer as the job of the CEO is less defined than any other role in the organization, I don’t really produce tangible things, nor am I responsible for any one thing.
Answering the former question in one brief statement; it means to have vision and make decisions.
Having vision is great, being able to look out a year or two ahead and have an objective is absolutely necessary for any leader, really at any level. The company and employees want reassurance of where you are going and confidence that you can get there.
But decision making is very difficult. Very very difficult.
The problem with decision making is the fear of being wrong or worrying about the secondary fallout from the decision.
The second problem people run into is the belief every decision is final and irreversible. Some are but most are not.
This is highlighted by Jeff Bezos in what he describes as a one-way door and two-way doors. There are times you walk through the one-way door and cannot go back but most of the time it is a two way door. Your decision can be reversed.
The fear of changing one’s mind is the fear of being seen as wrong or as a failure. One way to combat this is to describe decisions as experiments. You are testing something and thus the next decision is formed by the test, that decision might be to end it or it might be to iterate it.
The final thought on decisions is that making no decision is worse than any decision. Meaning, if you are unsure of something, make a decision knowing that you can change your mind, but never make no decision without formally deciding for no decision.