Fuse Innovation boss highlights passion, team building and trust as key elements of building a business as Irish EU trade commissioner steps down over Covid-19 rule breach

Published by Scott Challinor on August 28th 2020, 12:12am

Recalling the watershed moment that he first decided to take the plunge from being in employment to starting his own business, Fuse Innovation managing director Marcelo Bustamante described the change as going from one side of a desk to the other.

Elaborating on the analogy, Bustamante described himself as being sat in front of a desk and being led by his directors in one moment, to then being sat behind the desk and writing his own rules and strategies and facing the prospect of leading a team of his own, in the next.

Speaking on the Leaders Council podcast about his early days running his own business and what sent him on the road to success, Bustamante explained that a willingness to learn and accept that leadership is a never-ending journey of development and education was crucial.

Bustamante said: “I like to think that in the early days of my business life when I first got involved in my start-up business, I had strong leadership skills, but there is always room for improvement. The leadership journey a is never-ending journey, you are always learning and improving. And being willing to go on that journey in the early days was critical to growing my business.”

It was in these early days of running a business for the first time that Bustamante would stumble upon a quote that would become a mantra of his professional life: “You don’t build a business, you build a team and you let that team build the business.”

Bustamante added with a smile: “I must confess that I don’t know who came up with that quote, but it made me realise that I had to build a team before I could hope to grow my business and that building a team requires leadership.”

In order to build his team, Bustamante knew that he had to get to know his colleagues in his role as leader and establish their strengths and weaknesses early on, while also establishing an aura of trust and inspiring them to bring out the best in themselves and be content in the work that they were doing.

Bustamante said: “One key element of my whole leadership style is developing trust between me and my colleagues. Once that is in place, you can then set about fulfilling your other requirements as a leader by inspiring your trusted team to work with integrity, build their inner confidence and be a good role model.

“I view a leader’s role as not necessarily being to teach people, but to be a role model by having them watch how you work and using your own work ethic to inspire them. You cannot impose skills onto others, you cannot force people to be led if they do not want to be led. But you can inspire them to be the best version of themselves. Getting them to bring out the best in themselves and find their forte will make them happy and having a team of happy people is so important because we are at our most productive when we are happy.”

Of course, this does beg the question as to how one can inspire people, particularly when they are venturing into a leadership role for the first time, and Bustamante was more than eager to offer a solution for that very conundrum.

“Passion and enthusiasm inspire. You do not have to be outwardly characterised and lighter than life to inspire others, but you do need to be passionate about what you do. When people see you as a passionate leader, that will light the spark in them, and people will follow you. If you are passionate and show that you are enjoying what you are doing, people will enjoy working with you and following you, and they will then buy into your vision.”

When asked about the role models that he looked up to during his first steps into the business world, Bustamante highlighted former politician and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger as one of the most influential figures in his life.

He said: “It may be an unorthodox choice, but in my late teens and early 20s when I was starting in business, Arnold Schwarzenegger was a key role model. I liked everything about him because he came from humble beginnings but has a strong vision and he worked hard to achieve his goals and make his vision a reality. He went from being a youngster in Austria to fulfilling his vision of going into politics and movies because he had the foresight to carve out a master plan to get to where he wanted to be.

“In my later business life, names such as Richard Branson and Lord Sugar sprung out as inspirations, simply because of how both set about growing their businesses. Many forget that Schwarzenegger is also a successful businessman himself. All three of these men have different leadership styles, but all of them impressed me in how they fulfilled their visions.”

While Bustamante emphasised the importance of trust, there is always the possibility of unforeseen circumstances where trust can be broken.

Such a circumstance made headlines in the news this week, after Irish EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan was forced to resign from his post following his involvement in a scandal over attending a golf dinner which contravened Covid-19 safety regulations in the Republic of Ireland.

Hogan apologised for his actions but struggled to justify them in an interview with Irish television channel RTE, and was left with little choice but to stand down.

He was under pressure from a number of senior figures in the Irish government to consider his position in the aftermath of the breach, including taoiseach Micheál Martin and former Irish premier Leo Varadkar.

According to the Telegraph, Hogan said on Wednesday: "This evening I have tendered my resignation. It was becoming increasingly clear that the controversy concerning my recent visit to Ireland was becoming a distraction from my work as an EU commissioner and would undermine my work in the key months ahead.

"I deeply regret that my trip to Ireland…caused such concern, unease and upset."

80 people including Hogan were in attendance at the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner in Galway on August 19, which breached Covid-19 restrictions on mass gatherings.

Hogan is the latest in a number of officials, including Ireland’s agriculture minister, who have resigned from their jobs after attending the event.

After it emerged that he had attended the event, Hogan was required to outline all of his movements dating back to the end of July in a report to EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.

The report uncovered that Hogan had not successfully completed a 14-day quarantine upon entering Ireland as was required, even though the commission had initially been informed that he had done so.

Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

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Authored By

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
August 28th 2020, 12:12am

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