Dany Bahar Rises Above Jealousy and Rivalry

Dany Bahar Rises Above Jealousy and Rivalry

The corporate world would not be what it is today without jealousies and rivalries. The two emotions drive forwards the aspirations and plans of anyone with ambition. Boardroom brawls, corporate cattiness and directors’ disputes are alive and kicking in the world’s government and business circles – and they have been so since time immemorial. And at their heart are jealousies and rivalries.

The two emotions can be healthy in certain situations, due to the very fact that they sometimes uncover a deep rooted problem which, when tackled, could lead to positive outcomes for the company as a whole, although not necessarily for the individuals concerned. Unfortunately for each positive result arising from these emotions, there are far more negatives which can only harm a company’s reputation and weaken the morale of the workforce.

The dictionary describes jealousy as ‘a jealous attitude, especially towards a rival’. It also describes it as being a ‘quiet watchfulness’. And there’s certainly a ‘quiet watchfulness’ going on behind the scenes at Group Lotus where Dany Bahar is the object of deep seated ‘jealousy and rivalry’.

Why is it that when a person is successful and patently accomplished in his dealings, with a history of achievement stretching back to his teens, do the knives get drawn and the green-eyed monster rears its head? Essentially it is a direct result of people being wary, even apprehensive as to what the object of their angst could do. It is also a defence mechanism – a protection – to cover up personal inadequacies and unprofessionalism.

There’s no doubt that Bahar has been successful in the past and will continue to be so: he has stirred a few hornet’s nests in his time. But, as this journalist has observed over the years through watching Bahar as he has nurtured brands and guided them to international status, there has been no action on his part which would evoke the strong anti-feeling which has surrounded him since he assumed the role of CEO at Group Lotus 20 months ago.

Bahar is passionate in his beliefs. He is a man of hunches which actually do work. At Group Lotus he has rattled a few cages – he’s had to lay-off staff in some quarters ‘to simply size the business to the current output’, he said as explanation. Yet, he’s brought in a slick senior management team of die-hard sports car professionals to work alongside him.

Dany Bahar took over an ailing company, albeit one of Britain’s best known brands. His aim is to turn things around, to woo the Malaysian investors – Proton bought the iconic brand in 1996 and has, to date, seen not a penny of profit – and to see staff levels grow again to keep pace with his five year plan.

His recent set back of not being granted funding from the UK Government has shaken but not stirred the man. He’s made of sterner stuff, a characteristic which riles his rivals.

Just 20 months into his ‘new’ job, Bahar has already proven the perpetrators of poison against him to show that he is not afraid to take chances. Recognised as a brand guru, a marketeer and not an engineer, his appointment caused a stir in motoring circles and people waited to see him take a tumble. But he hasn’t so far – and doesn’t intend to at all.

The fact that there are cynics watching his every move is not exactly making Bahar’s ride at Lotus an easy one but he’s man enough to rise above it. He’s courted controversy in the past but never anything for which he could be held to account – it’s all part of his highly competitive streak. He once said to me that he is not a jealous person and he doesn’t spend too much time thinking about rivals.

“I’m aware that I have rivals and perhaps enemies, but it’s not something that worries me,” he said not too long ago when we chanced upon each other at an F1 event. “I actually find it flattering that people see me as competition, but the only person I’m competing against is myself – and that’s enough, believe me,” he said with the customary shrug of the Bahar shoulders and quick flick of the hair.

He’s a people person and a visionary. In the past week or so – and amidst all the controversy surrounding him – he has pulled two rabbits from the proverbial hat. The first was the visit to Lotus’s Hethel plant of the Malaysian Prime Minister, Dato Sri Mohamed Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak. This was a major coup for Bahar, even more so when PM Razak publicly announced that he was a great supporter of Lotus’s turnaround plan.

Then, a few days later, Group Lotus announced that its profits are up by 7.6 per cent with increased revenue contribution from engineering activities.

The good news from Group Lotus won’t stop the bad-mouthing surrounding Bahar, though. The jealousies and rivalries will continue to surround him but he’s got enough intuition to isolate himself from innuendos – and a business plan, which can’t veer off-course. He may never have headed a manufacturer before in his career but he thrives on challenge and turns his back on the bitterness from rival factions.