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.
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This World Business Culture profile is designed as an introduction to business culture in Spain only and a more detailed understanding needs a more in-depth exploration which we can provide through our training and consultancy services.