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On Enemies

By Louis Rosas-Guyon | Submitted On March 01, 2007


"I am more afraid of an army of 100 sheep led by a lion than an army of 100 lions led by a sheep." -Talleyrand

As you rise in power and position you will attract enemies. An old maxim teaches us to judge men by their enemies not by their friends. There will always be those who plot against you. Accept that now before you go any further and your life will be easier. Cloud yourself with delusions that you are universally loved and you will learn the harshest lessons of defeat.

Know your enemies! They are active and plotting against you. Henry Kissinger correctly stated that even paranoids have enemies. A little paranoia in a leader is a healthy thing but make sure to keep it in check. Nothing will destroy you faster than complete paranoia. Locate your enemies through your spies and informants. Beware of double agents. Every spy has the potential to spy against you too. Never reveal too much to your spies, only enough to keep them close to you and dependent upon you. The best spies are those who stand gain from your victories.

The hardest enemy to spot is the one that plays to your vanity. A smart enemy will pose as a friend to get close to you. He will flatter and cajole you into a false sense of security, and when you are your most vulnerable, he will strike without mercy. Beware of flatterers and sycophants. They will be the most likely to turn against you at the first perceived slight. Those who speak loudest of their love for you are working the hardest to convince others of their sincerity. A truly loyal follower will always work in silence for your cause, since both his cause and yours are the same.

Now that you have spotted and identified your enemies, keep them close to you. This old mafia adage has great truth. Give your enemy a position within your immediate power structure. This will provide for two possible outcomes. By working closely with you, your enemy can be turned into an ally by identifying commonality of purpose. Remember, your enemy is never the villain in his personal version of the story. Never ascribe base motives or evil intent to your foes. Find their true point of contention. Why do they disagree with your leadership? If you can identify this and then work to build bridges of commonality, you will create your strongest ally and supporter. His power is based on yours and, since you are united in purpose, he will work for you.

However, if there can be no compromise or commonality, give them enough rope to hang themselves. Give them the power and authority they crave. Stand back and watch. Never lose your grip on ultimate authority. Publicly praise your foe for every achievement. Point out your enemy's achievements and laud their contribution to the department. If your enemy speaks against you quietly, your praises will cause the staff to begin to distrust your enemy for speaking against you. He will be labeled an ingrate; didn't you show your trust and faith in the person by elevating him? How can he talk bad about you when all you do is praise him? It does not hurt to have your supporters spread these seeds. Gratitude is a dangerous emotion to expect from anyone but people place great stock in it. Use this to your advantage but never rely on gratitude alone as the basis for loyalty.

As they think to further their cause by speaking out against you, they will only serve to destroy themselves. With time the outcry will grow against your enemies (fed and managed by your supporters) until such time as you must acceed to the will of department and remove him from power. You will succeed in removing their fangs by feeding public opinion against them.

Louis Rosas-Guyon is a business and technology consultant for R-Squared Computing, Inc He is based in Miami, Florida.

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