Ultra-discreet strategy CEO

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I refer article Tino Fernández “Ultra-discreet strategy CEO” published last Thursday Expansion in which I participated with many other, and analyzing whether or not the CEO to face before the public. There are for all tastes and opinions. And what do you think?


They are founders, presidents and top executives of firms. Rarely granted interviews, Rationing and often exaggerated his public appearances. It may be a well-studied plan or simply his way of being, but this particular attitude has consequences on the mark, in the company and the people who work there.


In April 2009, two employees of an establishment of Domino’s Pizza North Carolina hung in YouTube a video in which repugnant acts performed with the food they thought to send home. That clip He achieved one million hits in two days. The speed with which the lethal joke for the good name of the company spread contrasted with the delay in responding to its first executive, who apologized in a video. The company also mobilized Twitter and Facebook, but the slow response made only saw 66.000 people at the end of the day. Someone commented then that “the damage done 30 minutes of exposure on the Internet 49 year history of the brand is not cured with this patch”.


CEOs are the public face of their organization and, in times of confusion, It is expected to be visible and honest about any problems that arise. The episode of Domino's Pizza raises the debate of managers, company founders or presidents who prefer to keep a low profile; I rarely give interviews or out on photos or participate in public events. The question is whether this is a strategy designed to the case or is it a personal matter. And whatever, should analyze what consequences this discretion excessively -sometimes in the company and its brand, as well as those who work in it.


Vivian Acosta, director general partner of consultancy Norman Broadbent, remember that “there is a style of leadership that turns out to be austere in communication. It is characteristic of those who link their success to their organization rather than seek personal recognition. They relate their personal mark with his job and the company; They work more inward than outward; and generate more equipment. Brand a company builds a team. And more cohesion and group consciousness is generated. It is therefore the management team that creates the brand and not a single manager”. A case of discretion in this regard is the CEO of the former Bankinter, Juan Arena, who he never allowed to take pictures during his tenure nor appeared before the media, except for shareholders' meetings. “The important thing is the bank, and not”, It seemed to be his motto. This attitude generated much sense of group membership, and a differentiation strategy. In his years at Bankinter he wanted to prove that you can manage a company in the shade without being the visible face of the company.


Santiago Alvarez de Mon, del IESE professor, explain what “there is even very transparent management internally but retract to the outside. They prefer that their teams are those who leave the fray and appear. It is a low profile typical of those who are comfortable with their work and who love what they do, but they want to minimize the external impact of the activities performed. They do not want to customize the company”.


Acosta remembers theories Jim Collins referred to fifth level of leadership, which are based on most of the great firms today have always been great. Most companies, nevertheless, only become good. Managers who make good companies in excellent stand out as being discrete, humble and do not keep too many public interventions.


according to Collins, the true leader level 5 It is what generates long-term change and sustainable; who is more interested in the success of the organization that their personal achievements and has enough self-confidence to hire competent people; which it is modest; who assumes responsibility-not blame others when things do not work as expected-; and one whose ultimate ambition is the organization.


Alvarez de Mon believes that this attitude of discretion is, rather than a strategy, a way to be, and coincides with Ovidio Penalver, managing partner of Isavia Consultants, in which “There are examples of leaders who are shy, They are suffering from resources to appear before the public; they do not have good image, or are not comfortable”.


He adds peñalver “for any company it is very convenient be present. It is a matter of survival, because if you're not, do not exist, and that presence can be very varied: publish books, make announcements, give interviews, be in fairs and events”.


For any organization is convenient 'be present’


The expert identifies three possible strategies: the first is “only brand image of the company and staff opacity”. It is characteristic of large companies, and it is carried out through responsible communication or a media agency. In this sense Andrés Pérez, positioning consultant staff, ensures that “some departments and communication directors has excessively 'hidden’ their managers. It is they who really dominate the enterprise communication and excessive discretion of those CEO, presidents or founders, rather than a thoughtful strategy or reason, It is due to a matter blocking, or to have gotten them a certain fear to intervene in public”. Peñalver explains that in this first strategy “the name of the organization is sold and who appears in public need permission from the. If we as a country example, we could say that Switzerland has very good brand image, but very few people could say the name of its president. In this case, what sells is the country”.


Another plan is to turn companies around the mark of a person. Peñalver clarifies that “It is very media leaders, with a strong personality. Here, rather than a strategy, It is the personality of these individuals. At Banesto guys at Mario Conde everything revolved around him. If we go to other examples, in Venezuela is much talk of Chavez and less country. And there are political parties, as UPyD, They are revolving around their leader, Rosa Díez“.


Isavia director partner also identifies a mixed model: which it is based on a highly valued company and a founder or president with a personal stamp splendid. “It is the case asked onApple. And one could say that is the case Emilio Botin on Santander“.


Minimum issue


Santiago Alvarez de Mon warns that you can not be a CEO without assuming that should represent the brand: “There must be a minimum for this. It goes in the salary and it is your responsibility. Discretion should be practiced in moderation so that it is not secrecy”.


Vivian Acosta meanwhile says “when one does not create a brand, others create it for him. If you let other minted that mark, which results can be negative”.





For Guillem Recolons, partner Soymimarca, the non-presence “It causes a dehumanization of the company. If there is a person in front is colder. Crisis management, there is no one to take responsibility, and it tends to charge the brand. Given the inaccessibility, Besides, a lack of dialogue is given, No one can give the face. The first brand ambassador is the CEO. If your image is opaque entire company oozes opacity“. Andrés Pérez agrees that “opacity that generates desconfinza. If you're invisible you may think you have something to hide”.


Partner Soymimarca adds that “Spain long term we will import the type of attitudes of leaders who use person to person communication“, taking into account how others perceive the message and how to transmit it to your network of trusted people. It is the case Barack Obama and actions around him, which they became his trademark a symbol and icon worshiped by the great social masses.


media leaders


During the crisis of the automotive industry in Detroit, in the decade of 1980, President Chrysler,Lee Iacocca, It made famous by putting its image and personality in the service of the company, becoming known worldwide phrase “if you find a better car, buy it”.Fifteen years later, Chrysler used its media potential for a new campaign deals.


The Spanish Iacocca was Manuel Luque, general manager Camp, that as a media leader became fashionable cars slogan applied to detergents. Even those who have never seen the announcement of Columbus known and “I searched, compare, and if you find something better… Buy”.


Just as an exaggerated discretion may be negative, leaders who choose to be media may fall into excess. Some think that the most effective leaders seem to be those who “son” their own business and they embody the image of your company, especially when it comes to transmitting values ​​and emotions. Andrés Pérez, positioning consultant staff, He cites examples of exaggerated media Donald Trump or Richard Branson.


Perez recalled that “leadership is based on someone with clear objectives, you must have defined the objectives of its people. Branson knows what he wants, what people want, and communicates perfectly”.


The decision to be a media manager may be due to a vision of the kind patrimonialista “the company's me”; or also the model “the company is my springboard”, something typical of those managers who use the media platform to get a shot headhunters. In addition, the great iconic personality of certain chiefs, as may be the case Jack Welch, CEO of General Electric, o Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, You can become an inconvenience, because a giant figure like these leaders can cause an eclipse of talent in the organization, which sometimes it is atrophied and is unable to respond appropriately when these leaders are leaving the company (Welch) or die (Jobs).


This leadership implies that those who exercise spend many years as CEO, influencing the design and strategy of firms. How they manage institutionalized and it is almost impossible to find new leaders to replace them.

About me Guillem Recolons

Convinced that everything leaves a mark, I help companies to better connect with their stakeholders through personal branding programs (personal brand management) and employee advocacy (internal brand ambassadors programs).

Partner at Integra Personal Branding and Soymimarca, I also collaborate with Ponte en Valor, Brandergizers,, MoreThanLaw, Noema Consulting, AdQualis and QUIFER Consultants.

As lecturer, participated in the Graduate Social Media of UPF and UVic, in various programs in ISDI, speaker at the IESE EMBA, among other. Advertising man, Master en Marketing. Grade student of Humanities.

My DNA comes from advertising 20 years in agencies: BBDO, J.W.T., Bassat Ogilvy, Saatchi & Saatchi, Altraforma and TVLowCost among others.

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