My Toughest Challenge: Merging Two Companies

John Gates, CEO Markets, Americas JLL, on navigating big changes for the Staubach Co.

“In 2008, our firm, The Staubach Co., merged with JLL. On either side of a merger, there are strong emotions and a lot of pride. Ultimately, you have to be able to bring everyone together so it feels like winners and winners—not winners and losers. We created friction where we hadn’t anticipated it, and we had to move quickly to diffuse that and keep both sides feeling like the merger was a good thing. I learned that you really have to get focused on what we’re going to get built together, what it’s going to take, and why it’s going to be good for everybody. That process took longer than I think anyone anticipated. When you have a bunch of high-achieving people, compromise isn’t always easy, so being a steady hand and being patient and logical with folks goes a long way. You cannot quit; never stop until the work is done. If people will trust, they’ll believe; but if they’ve given up on you, then you’ve got a problem.”


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