The bosses are also wrong: these are the failures that great managers recognize | Economy

Goethe said that the only man who does not make mistakes is the one who never does anything. And it is a maxim that can be applied to everyone, including the top managers of companies. Although the ego often prevents them from admitting their failures. Among other things because, as Pedro Mateache, president of consultancy AT Kearney Iberia, says with some sarcasm, the executives make mistakes, but they have "a tremendous ability to not see it." Well, after the surprise that the president gave of Mercadona, Juan Roig, by admitting his failures as manager, among them his distrust in the sale on-line; we took advantage of the V Congress of the Association for the Progress of the Direction (APD) so that some high positions of the big companies present in Barcelona recognized the setbacks they have suffered in their careers.

But, let us start at the beginning. What do managers think that defines a good manager? For José Ignacio Goirigolzarri, president of Bankia, "a good manager is someone who knows how to listen and has great intellectual humility. And, of course, he knows the trade well and that is how the collaborators respect him. " "Listen more than talk", supports Fernando Vives, his counterpart in Garrigues. Y Francisco Román, president of Vodafone, believes that the fundamental thing of the leader is to believe in the team, align it around a goal and instill encouragement; "While you have to embroider your ego and not take it for a walk".

Almost all the leaders consulted place the key to management of success in extracting the best from their collaborators. Lead by influence calls Laura González Molero, adviser to Bankia and Viscofan. Although there is more: "you have to understand the future scenario, have a very clear code of values ​​and, above all, be able to execute what you propose", says Juan María Nin, former vice president of La Caixa and current adviser of Société Générale . Because, as the president of Adecco, Enrique Sánchez, you also have to be very focused on the results.

Precisely Sanchez does not hurt when recognizing his mistakes, "I have committed a lot. At the beginning of my career it was hard for me to admit them because I was not a great listener. " Among them, he highlights having overvalued some people he named; "When the role of the manager is to hit". Also years ago, pressed by the results, he chose to integrate the Human Group in Adecco and "I lost almost all the good that his Alta Gestión brand had. I sacrificed it. Today I would have kept it independent even if it cost more money, "he argues.

Bad decisions

Roman agrees: "I have made mistakes with people, for waiting too long to change them, reorient them or something more drastic. And that delay has been very negative. " The president of Vodafone believes that another of his failures is not having been vigorous enough during the good times to induce changes in the organization that are later more expensive, such as investing in systems.

He too president of Garrigues thinks that not having started before with the internationalization of his office has had consequences. "That delay has required us more effort to catch up and recover lost time."

"The mistakes that managers make the most come when you leave your comfort zone. By knowing your environment, you think you have mastered everything and that inbreeding makes us commit great failures. When you leave Spain that complacency disappears and you have to reposition yourself, realize that your ideas are not absolute truths and be more humble. " Laura González blamed her lack of agility on logistics in Brazil, when it was something typical of the country. "I underestimated the idiosyncrasy of Brazil, coming from a market with universal health, and that led me to rethink the strategy," he admits.

Goirigolzarri also refers to complacency. "Understanding competitive conditions too well is self-justifying, being complacent with strategic actions and that's a mistake." But for the president of Bankia the biggest mistake is not having sufficiently valued the importance of the image and reputation of the sector. "It continues being one of the biggest challenges of the bank and we have to do pedagogy, explain that we are useful for society because a sector is only sustainable if society wants it to exist," he says.

TO Marcos de Quinto, former world vice president of Coca-Cola, it does not cost him to list some of his setbacks in the brand. The first one that comes to mind has to do with the Coca-Cola Movement, "which was the first social network in 2000, before Facebook, and reached a million followers in Spain. It's a failure not to have convinced the company to continue with the project and invest in it, "he says. It also refers to the launch of a tail, Aquarius V3, which was the first without bubbles, "but which we removed from the market because we do not communicate this innovation well". The same thing happened when they marketed the VT tea, which had antioxidants and sold it "saying it was like a cosmetic and it did not work." De Quinto also believes that it was a great mistake to remain silent when the cocaine bottlers were dismissed. Cola European Partners. "Seen with perspective, we had to have acted, but we let ourselves be guided by the bottler, who did not want us to intervene" and that meant a boycott of the brand. "Let yourself be carried away by what the client wants" -accepts Mateache - "instead of the ones you need, it is a common mistake that we make in consulting".

Pedro Fontana, president of Areas, admits to having been mistaken for locking himself in Barcelona. "It has been a roof for my career, I prepared myself to be an international manager and I have not been until now, at the age of 66, at the end of my career." Rosa García also speaks in personal terms, until December, president of Siemens Gamesa : "I tend to run at an impossible speed and then I need stoppages to recover, the most difficult thing for a manager is to manage himself".


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