Ramsey Naja is chief creative officer, JWT MEA
“It’s amazing what a little competition can do. One minute you’re just a commuter on the day-to-day train of routine, contemplating a brief with as much appetite as an anorexic supermodel suffering from nausea, and the next you’re a boy racer at a set of traffic lights. And it doesn’t take much, really. In fact, much as anyone would prefer to work at the stress levels of a Buddhist monk, there is nothing like the intoxicating whiff of an adversary, real or intangible, to make a brief look like a fondant au chocolat after a month-long diet.
Competition runs deep in our industry’s veins. It has levels to which we adjust voluntarily or which are imposed on us. It starts with the tyranny of a deadline and ends with the kind of pitch in which you are pitted against your former agency led by your successor who also happens to be the cousin whom you hated all your life and who married your childhood sweetheart. It is the drug that we happily inject into colleagues and juniors for that extra motivation that acts both as the carrot and the stick.
And like any drug, there are people out there who handle it better than others. That’s why competition is something that needs to be administered carefully, particularly in internal proceedings. There are people out there who firmly believe that ruthless cut-throat internal competition is the magic recipe for permanent success, regardless of the damage to carpets, and others who are proponents of collaboration, cooperation – in fact anything beginning with co. In other words, on the one hand you have Donald Trumps and, on the other, people who talk to plants. Personally, I dislike both. I don’t want to work with people who turn projects into personal jihads, nor do I want to waste time hugging trees. What I like, instead, is that delicate balancing act which juggles hunger and satisfaction, boosts the drive whilst keeping things in perspective and, ultimately, makes people want to better themselves. That’s what talent management – or indeed any kind of management – should be all about.”
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