Manuel Horácio Francisco da Silva, one of the most respected executives in Brazil, launches his autobiography entitled “O Equilibrista”. The book, published by the publishing house Edições 70, published by Almedina Brasil, portrays the trajectory of this renowned business leader, from his childhood as a flower seller to his controversial dismissal as CEO of Telemar. The work addresses topics such as leadership, company restructuring and the importance of a professional image, with a preface signed by Horácio Lafer Piva.
With a narrative organized into thematic blocks, “O Equilibrista” delves into the life and career of Manoel Horácio, exploring his rise to prominent positions in companies such as Ericsson, Sharp and Telemar, in addition to his role as chairman of TIM Brasil and president of Banco Factor. Recognized as a skilled company restructurer, Manoel became one of the most admired executives in the country, receiving awards and being closely followed by the specialized press.
The story of Manoel Horácio is a source of inspiration, highlighting his ability to create opportunities in challenging times. The book reveals sincere statements by the author, showing that things do not always go as planned, but that changes often occur at the right time, providing valuable experiences. Born in Portugal and established in Brazil since childhood, Manoel faced challenges from an early age and built a successful career based on his determination and leadership skills.
The autobiography also reveals Manoel’s personal side, portraying his family life alongside Maria Lúcia, with whom he has been married since 1969, and their two children. Currently retired and living with Parkinson’s disease, Manoel remains active in the family business, enjoying his passions for music and poetry, and sharing his valuable experiences and knowledge with the public.
The book “O Equilibrista” tells the story of his life and career. What motivated you to share your trajectory through this autobiography?
The main motivation was to tell my story to my children and, mainly, to my grandchildren, who did not follow my career most of the time. The second was to encourage more humble people to study and fight for a better future for themselves and, consequently, for the country, through business actions that stimulate the creation of value. Although it seems to be a contradiction to talk about restructuring and it always comesThepossible reduction of jobs at the beginning, restructuring is much more than that, it is to create efficiency in an organization and create economy, increase in value.
I thought of telling the young executives about a management and leadership experience. The big surprise was reading what my two children wrote to me after reading the book. They accompanied my entire trajectory and discovered a new father and professional, not noticed during their lives. As examples of your comments, here are some comments from my daughter:
“Now, the most incredible thing of all, is that while I was reading and figuring out everything you did, undone, solved and fixed the itch, I saw the dates and I remember that you took me to school. He would come home and whistle for us to stop playing in the street and go inside. I grew up, but I never had an absent or nervous father at home. I don’t know where that business lion was, at home it was always my father, teaching us to be honest and respectful, to be faithful, to be happy with a mortadella sandwich or viking caviar, to thank God always for having so much more what we need…”.
My son’s testimony is also long, but I leave a few sentences: “After reading the book, I realized that I am much more like you than I imagined… I got emotional, several times during the reading! Cry…”. I also cried when I read what the two commented. Just for the texts of the two, it was worth writing the book.
Throughout your career, you have held important positions in several companies. How do you deal with the challenges and pressures of corporate leadership?
First, in order to face the challenges, it is necessary to know, reasonably, how the economic situation of the country, sector and company is, in order to be able to assess what problems we will face to make it more efficient or restructure it. The problem is that when you arrive at the company you don’t know your environment and mood, and most people don’t know you.
There is an expectation, especially when you are already known, that you will bring a pre-made recipe for success. This situation puts pressure on the “timing” so that the results appear. You need to gain the trust of the group and, for that, you need to know how to listen to the organization with a lot of patience and respect. Leadership does not come from your position on the organization chart, but from your behavior towards the group. As I have already mentioned, there is no magic recipe, but a leader’s attitude. We live with the pressure of results all the time. Be humble, without showing that you are the boss, but the driver and facilitator to lead the new path.
The work addresses topics such as leadership, company restructuring and the importance of cultivating a good professional image. What are your key takeaways from these topics that you’d like to share with readers?
I think much of that answer is already contained in the second question. The basic lessons to share with readers are simple: listen to the groups you are going to lead and don’t bring ready-made recipes, the company’s professionals know what its problems are and, most of the time, the driver is missing to make the necessary changes. and put it back on track. Remember that changes bring insecurity, it’s easier in the short term to leave things as they are – which kills in the long term. The only certainty in today’s world is permanent change.
Someone at IBM in the 1980s said that the worst thing that can happen to a company in the long run is success, which can accommodate the changes necessary for survival. It seems counterintuitive, but if we analyze the 500 largest companies in the United States over the last 20 years, very few remain in their positions. Long-term success is a consequence of constant adjustments to changing economic, technological and competitive environments.
Your leadership does not happen only because of the knowledge and skills you learned, but your ability to make the group believe that they are the promoters of the company’s success, that is, you are the conductor, “but what makes the melody are the instruments”.
In the book, you mention the importance of creating opportunities elsewhere when necessary. How did you develop this skill throughout your career?
I learned this in my first jobs as an “office boy”, the simplest office function. I did my tasks and paid attention to other functions, making myself available to help my colleagues in their functions. That way I learned what they did. I quickly climbed to better roles and grew, that is, I became multifunctional and always available to take on greater responsibilities.
I was always curious, looking at the different areas of the companies I worked for, talking to my superiors. When he realized there was no more space in the company where he worked, he looked for opportunities in others. But, it’s important to mention that I wasn’t static, just waiting to be noticed, I went after it.
You also point out that you faced ups and downs along your path. How did you overcome difficult times and find balance in your personal and professional life?
The mood of the controllers or my bosses wasn’t always rational in relation to my career (well, that’s in my subjective evaluation), as it can happen in any organization. So that expected promotion or evaluation didn’t come. This happened at least four times during my career. All these “crisis” reasons were moments of change that took me out of comfort and were transformed into new opportunities for growth.
A poem that I used a lot in my life and in lectures on careers, by Fernando Sabino, is called Certeza: “Of everything, three things remain: the certainty that we are starting, the certainty that we must continue and the certainty that we will be interrupted before finishing. Let’s make the interruption a new path, the fall a dance step, the fear a ladder, the dream a bridge, the search an encounter”. That’s the dynamic of life, when you don’t interrupt the path, someone interrupts you and there’s a small beginning.
How do you see the relationship between leadership and adaptability in an ever-changing world?
The leader must be visionary, see in the future what most people do not see. Having the courage to bring about and bring about changes, transforming your dreams into the dreams of those you lead, knowing how to change plans when provoked by changes in the world. You might think he’s not afraid, we all are, but the leader has the courage to take the risks of change. As in the previous poetry, climb the stairs to see the world from above and build a bridge that leads to new paths.
The book highlights his fame as a company restructurer. What were the main challenges you faced in this process and what strategies did you adopt to overcome them?
The need to restructure a company almost always happens due to lack of competitiveness, swollen structures or obsolescence of its products, in short, due to failure of management and market vision. It is clear that the situation of the country’s economy can accelerate the imbalance between revenues and expenses, leading the company to review its economic model. The main strategy I developed was to listen to the existing human capital in organizations.
Incredible as it may seem, the management of the different areas of the company are aware of the problems that push them towards the crisis, but they lack a leader with the courage to bring about the transformation. The basic strategy was always to call the managers one by one to listen to their diagnoses and ask what they would do to solve the problem. And the funniest thing about these interviews is that almost everyone thinks that their areas are excellent and that the problem lies with the neighboring management.
Moral of the story: the sum of excellences is taking the company to the crisis, but the general diagnosis is correct. From this knowledge of the group, it is easier to develop the restructuring plan, taking advantage of everything you heard. I’ve always taken risks in doing a “turnover” of managers who demonstrate knowledge of the areas they criticize. Most of the time, it was not necessary to bring in many new professionals to freshen up the organization.
The speed of change is extremely important for restructuring, as it brings enormous insecurity to the group that remains in the structure. Therefore, doing a homeopathic restructuring is very dangerous. After completing the process, make it clear that those who continue were chosen for the success of the plan, be very transparent and consistent in the speech.
You mention in the book the importance of networking for your career. What tips would you give readers on how to build and cultivate a solid professional network?
It is important for the executive not to be trapped in his cocoon. He has to go out to the sectoral and main events of the economy, to become visible to the market. Whenever possible, become an actor in your segment, participating as a speaker, and not being afraid of the press when requested. The big problem is knowing how to manage your time well, not stealing the necessary space for the good management of the company.
In addition to his career, the work also addresses his fight against Parkinson’s disease. How do you deal with the challenges brought about by this condition and how has it affected your outlook on life and work?
When you are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, it’s a good scare and there’s a little depression, especially in relation to the progression of the disease. It may affect mobility, but as I have always been very active, possibly the progression may be slower, according to neurologists. You lose the fine tuning of some movements, it’s hard to accept, but it’s your reality.
What bothers me the most is the speech problem with the stiffening of the muscles of the larynx and neck. This process leads to being quieter and listening more, maybe it’s wiser, lol… lol… I still do almost all the activities I’ve always done, but with less intensity. As I have already stopped activities as an executive, I only participate as a consultant and advisor, I have no frustration or shame in saying that I have Parkinson’s.
What message would you like to convey to readers who seek professional success and balance in their lives, based on your experiences and lessons shared in the book?
Professional success is the result of a set of skills and dedication to work, personal and family life, finding a certain balance of time between these three roles in your life. You may have had a stressful day, but when you return home to your family, you can find refuge to recharge your batteries for the continuation of your work the next day.
Success comes with dedication, persistence in the paths you believe in for the outcome of your career. It comes from improving your technical, human and leadership qualities. The best definition of how a leader should be is found in a poem by Fernando Pessoa: “To be great, be whole: nothing of yours exaggerates or excludes. Be all in every thing. Put how much you are in the least you do. So in every lake the whole moon shines, because high lives.”
If you are honest, transparent, put your heart into everything you do, you will shine. These are the characteristics that anyone admires in the leader to be followed, a successful, enlightened, principled leader.