The style of a manager is of great importance. Much greater weight is placed on personal attributes than on mere technical excellence.

The respect, which is afforded the manager by subordinates, is directly proportionate to the personality of the boss (jefe). Key personal attributes which would be admired might be a potent mixture of such issues as honour, courage, seriousness, trustworthiness and the acceptance of the gravitas of the leadership function.

Managers are expected to manage. Spanish managers have been described as benevolent autocrats and this can be difficult to accept for outsiders who are more used to a consensual approach from superiors. The boss is expected to be courageous and consultation could be perceived as weakness – doesn’t he know the answer? This does not mean that debate is forbidden – far from it. Everything is permissible as long as everybody is aware of who is ultimately in charge and who will make the final decision.

Instructions tend to be specific and task-oriented with detailed explanations of how to achieve the end result. Mistakes will be commented on by the boss at the time they occur and then not mentioned. Formal appraisal systems of the type in common usage in many other countries are a recent innovation and not necessarily welcomed.

A brief overview of some key concepts to consider when doing business in Spain

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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This country profile has been produced to give a short overview of some of the key concepts to bear in mind when doing business with contacts in Spain. It is intended to be an aid to business people who have commercial dealings with counterparties in the country but should not be seen as an exhaustive guide to this topic or as a substitute for more substantial research should there be a need.

With this in mind, we have covered the areas which are key to a better understanding of the cultural mindset underpinning business dealings in Spain and which are, quite often, extremely different from the approach and thought processes associated with business in other parts of the world.

Therefore this briefing note is broken into short, bite-sized sections on the following topics:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips