3 ways Yanis Varoufakis failed with media relations

Greece’s former Minister of Finance mishandled many leadership and public relations situations. One PR pro shares where he went wrong, and what he could have done differently.

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It doesn’t say much about commitment on his part, when you reflect that Dr. Varoufakis, a visiting Professor in Economics at The University of Texas at Austin since 2013, started and finished his political career as Finance Minister in fewer than seven months.

What went wrong for this apparently charismatic, revolutionary, leather-jacket-wearing and 1300-CC-Yamaha-motorbike-riding head of government finance? In a PR and reputation management perspective, what could Varoufakis have done better to have potentially succeeded as a leader?

The evidence speaks to three interwoven areas of failure:

1. Ineffective leadership

Negotiating with the Troika and EU’s finance ministers was inevitably going to be a Herculean task. To be effective, Varoufakis had to be a great leader: smart and shrewd; diplomatic yet resilient; patient and empathetic; bold yet constructive.

However, before he’d even met with his EU counterparts and Greece’s creditors, he tarnished his reputation. They saw him as untrustworthy because of his innumerable public criticisms of them, their institutions and the Eurozone. Then, when he did meet with them, they found his leadership—or lack thereof—unacceptable.

2. Failure to manage reputation

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