By Dr. Ichak Adizes

Ricardo has been a client of Adizes for the last 12 years. During this period, the company he leads, Grupo Salinas of Mexico, has grown from $250 million in capitalization to $3.5 billion in capitalization. Today, the Group contains a very large retail chain, Elektra, which is  all over Latin America, two cell phone companies: Unefon and Iusacel, two television networks: Television Azteca (Channels 13 and 7), and a network in the United States: Azteca America. Plus a bank – Banco Azteca – and pension and insurance companies, among others. Over 60 000 employees.

I have watched Ricardo the CEO, who is also the majority owner of the company, manage. He implements brilliantly some of the basic tenets of the Adizes methodology.

The concept of democratship.

Democracy in decision making: I have never met an executive who commands such vast, deep knowledge on the subjects of retailing and media and banking and telecom. Most people command one field of knowledge. He always surprises me by proving again and again that he does know what he is talking about.

How does he do it?

That is where the velvet gloves comes in. When he does not know something, he is all charm and openness and vulnerability. He listens well and is not afraid to ask, and ask again and again, until he truly understands the subject to the smallest detail.

But when the decision is made he becomes a tyrant. A stainless-steel hand. No deviation from the decision is accepted or goes unpunished. People truly fear him. He can become very unpleasant once he makes a decision if one still challenges it. So he knows when to be open and when to be impossibly closed.

He manifests that a person can be open-minded in making a decision, admit ignorance and learn, and then make a decision and be an absolute dictator in implementing it.

Most people who are dictatorial are afraid to show their weakness or their ignorance on any subject. And those who admit their ignorance are afraid to make a decision – because they’ve admitted ignorance.

Ricardo is special: a study in contrasts that work very well together. He knows when to smile and be charming and open and vulnerable, and when to be an absolute pain and closed-minded to the extreme.

He genuinely practices democracy in decision-making and dictatorship in implementation.

A truly rare species. And thus a very successful one.