Mastering the devious art of using your friends and allies | Inquirer Business
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Mastering the devious art of using your friends and allies

IN BUSINESS or career, you cannot operate in a hostile environment. But if you’re running in a rat race, or working in a dog-eats-dog environment, you’re bound to develop enemies who’d rather see you immobilized, if not dead.

Friends and enemies


Things don’t always seem to be what they are. Your peers can turn out to be your competition. They’re also your greatest allies, if you know how to “use” them. In life, as in politics, there are no permanent friends or enemies.

Be nice to the people you work with – boss, peers, subordinates. Never step on them on your way up. They will be the same persons you will meet on your way down. Let’s cut to the chase: the secret of victors and champions is their uncanny ability to use others.


Make them owe you

Treat your peers with respect. Lend them a helping hand. Don’t threaten them with your imposing presence. Be humble, ready to listen, and decipher how best you can use them.

When somebody thanks you for a good turn, humbly acknowledge it, “Anybody can do that. In fact, when the foot is on the other shoe, I’m sure you’ll help me, too. Or will you?” Of course, he will say, “Absolutely, you can count on me.” Then close the conversation with, “All right. You owe me one.”

When you have problems, your allies can save the day for you – if you know how to make them realize that they owe you.

More tips

Take these with a grain of salt, but see if these techniques can help you move up in your career:

If you don’t have enough brain or brawn, use others’. First, realize that you don’t have the monopoly of knowledge, wisdom, skills, or resources. Usually, someone else will have control over the resources you will need to do a good job. Your success will depend on your ability to find that someone and charm (or cajole or intimidate) him or her into giving you the resources you need.


Be efficient by making others do your work. It is a great ability to get others to work for you, while you get the credit for the achievement. When people help you complete a task or project, you’ll be more efficient and effective. Instead of spreading yourself thinly, distribute and spread your work to as many people as are willing to do it for you. Soon, you’ll develop the reputation of being an efficient worker.

Control the completion of the task. As you distribute the task, you should control the completion of the finished product. Operate like a car assembly plant. While all its parts are done in separate locations, the car is completely assembled in the plant that turns out finished products. That plant is visible as the source of the product. The many other smaller plants that made the body, electrical harness, and mechanical parts are forgotten. Only the assembly plant is remembered. Be the assembly plant of the work that your boss requires. After you get all the help from your friends and allies, package the complete product yourself and give it to your boss personally. You’ll get the credit.

Don’t do yourself what others can do for you. As you master the use of alliances, you will realize that in the end, you can get work done better through other people. That is the essence of management. The best part of a manager’s job is delegating. I have seen many cunning and scheming managers get so much credit for work they’ve never done. I personally have done a lot of work for my bosses who moved up the totem pole. It is a great ability to nurture alliances and keep subordinates continuously supplying parts of the finished product. If you master that ability, you will never have to work a day in your life, and yet you’ll be able to create a godlike aura of utmost efficiency and effectiveness. Patriotism is truly letting others die for your country.

Keep the supernumeraries contented to work for you.Be a benevolent and magnanimous manipulator to be able to maintain a horde of slaves and “indios” beholden to you. Usually, their needs are easy to satisfy – decent pay (but not too much for them to be financially independent), ample benefits, and continuous loans that will keep them at your feet forever.

Nurture your alliances. Keep them satisfied and willing to help you always. Stay close to them to detect any signs of a possible mutiny. Be one step ahead and be creative to vary your machinations and keep them guessing what you’ll do next. But watch your back. Julius Caesar didn’t.

(Ernie is the 2013 Executive Director and 1999 President of the People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP); Chair of the AMCHAM Human Capital Committee; and Co-Chair of ECOP’s TWG on Labor and Social Policy Issues. He is President and CEO of EC Business Solutions and Career Center. Contact him at [email protected])

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TAGS: alliance, allies, Business, Career, competition, enemies, friends, hostiity
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