"I want your money, and I want you out!"
Charming, don't you think? It could have come from some tasty geezer in a Guy Ritchie caper. It didn't. It was spat out the gob of an ECD. A nasty piece of work I had the misfortune of working to in Dubai.
Musing as he paced back and forth, tossing a paperweight in his hand like some 1930s wise guy flipping a silver dollar, he offered up this as to why my head was now on the block:
"I want your money to hire a couple of Brazilian teams. I'll burn them, get some awards out of them, then get rid of them."
The fact that I had previously saved a highly prized client from walking (who later did after I left), or helped secure new business before he arrived, didn't matter a jot. He had his mind and plan set. The end justified the nefarious means.
Don't get me wrong; I'm not looking for sympathy here. Others have already bravely shared better, or should I say, worse accounts than mine on this particular brand of behaviour. I was big enough and ugly enough to fight my corner against him and his gang of complicit droogs, which included the MD and the Head of HR. No, I'm dragging this up because I still see their names pop up. They are still heading up creative departments. Still at the helm of agencies. Still lending a disingenuous ear to those seeking advice from their head of HR.
How? And more importantly, why?
Like many in Dubai at the time, this particular ECD was only interested in awards. By hook or by crook, it didn't matter how he got them. That was his only gauge for success. He didn't get what it meant to head up a creative department, or worse, he didn't care.
Leading a creative department 101: Look after your people.
Inspire, coach, and support the talent entrusted to you. Encourage them to take risks. Give permission to fail. Dig deeper and go further. Take a peek behind the curtain of what we know now and find some new and exciting directions. Get them back on track if they're stuck or lose momentum. And, if need be, pick them up when things go wrong. Hone their skills and grow their careers. Help them to do the best work while you have them. Then, when they leave - because they will - and go up the ladder, trust them to do things properly somewhere new. To have integrity for the job and the people they now manage. Not trying to burn them or grab salaries in the pursuit of grabbing bright, shiny gongs. That's a fool's gold.
I hate to admit it, but I did learn something from that ECD. How not to be one.
For me, it's always been a privilege to manage fellow creatives. And hope, in some small way, I have helped them on their journey.
So, that leaves us with the question, what should be done about those bad Mad Men still out there? Unquestionably, the industry would be better without them and their thuggish antics. Perhaps the Brick Top school of thought should apply:
"I hear the best thing to do is feed them to pigs."
Published by: Neil1969 in Uncategorized