leadership

Power Play: Hire talented enemies

Rose Herceg /

This play is hard to do, which is why only the most secure Power Players do it.

Power Players love smart people who disagree with them. This is why they hire talented enemies.

Enemies might be too strong a word: more like people who have the guts to hold an opinion contrary to their own.

It’s hard to listen to someone argue a case that results in their being right and you being wrong.

Power Players know that the most talented people sometimes even work for the competition, and it takes real class to go after someone you know is probably smarter and has more natural talent than you.

When you’ve mastered the art of hiring talented enemies, you know you’ve made it to the Power Play premier league.

The story

The chairman and CEO of an ad agency told me a story about continually losing pitches to a guy who was managing director in another ad agency.

He’d lost five pitches in a row and enough was enough. He rang up the guy and asked if they could meet for a drink. They guy was understandably uneasy about the whole thing but agreed.

At the bar, the guy was prepared for anything except what happened next. The chairman and CEO offered this guy the top job (his job – the CEO gig), saying he’d stay on in the chairman role. He doubled his salary on the spot and told him that together they would be an unbeatable force. The guy jumped ship and together they won an unprecedented 12 pitches in a row.

Talk about impressive.

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