Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Lesson #2 Keep Your Friends Close, But Your Enemies Closer!




I have been in companies where complete idiots have been working. I could never understand why they were still there or allowed to work there. In one company, a cable company I rose through the ranks in, there were a couple of people working there who made a few enemies of the management. They were always causing problems for the accounts department and for credit control because they were slipshod with their paperwork. The managers were always on their cases. They wrote a lot of business. One day, one of them left and three days later the other one followed. Three months later they were back. I wondered why the management would consider having these loose cannons back. A mentor of mine was a man called Hal Stamford. He had worked in FMCG for many years at sales management level. He worked for Coca Cola for a number of years before pitching up at Cable London. He told me why and he told me the saying that makes up lesson #2. But first…
There is a saying: better the devil you know. I had never understood that saying until I realized that it was another way of saying ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’. Basically, even if someone is acting an asshole, they are better than an unknown and unqualified asshole coming into your business and causing havoc. You may be able to control that asshole you know, but the new one: they could cause a heap of trouble.
Leaving a company for another one that makes wild and desirable promises is a case in point for both sayings. You think of leaving because the grass seems greener than where you are but maybe you are better off with the devil you know.
Running like a thread within all of that is …
Lesson #2 Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.
An enemy can be anyone. The stereotype enemy is someone out to do you direct harm. Blofeld is an enemy of James Bond. The Joker/Riddler/Catwoman are enemies of Batman. In reality, an enemy is anyone who could damage your reputation, destroy your business, take business away from you, a person who feels hatred for, fosters harmful designs against, or engages in antagonistic activities against another; an adversary or opponent. Phew!
Well, if that’s the case, you should keep your enemies closer than your friends. That makes perfect sense. Do you really want them off where you can’t see them and have no control over what they are doing? No.
Also, if they do mess you up, or worse, they are so close not only can you see the problem growing, you can strike back easier because they are within range.
In many cases you will find that they think you don’t know they are an enemy and they drop their defences. That’s even better. At least, in a working environment, you are aware of what they are doing. Keeping them on a tight leash helps, leave no room for them to maneuver too much. In the short term it’s better to have them inside the tent peeing out than outside the tent peeing in but ultimately, when they mess up, or betray you, you need to strike fast and powerfully and the only way to do that is to have them under your wing.
Keep your friends close, because you can help them and look after them.
Keep your enemies closer, that way, if you need to, you can destroy them quickly.

Next Lesson #3: Kill The Monster Early
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