Oil of Ole

If the continued presence of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the Manchester United dugout is mystifying, you probably haven’t ever been too absorbed in the hell of UK office politics swirling around you.

It’s a common phenomenon in business that people hire their buddies and would rather see poor results than allow somebody who’s not part of the clique being successful and eclipsing ‘their way’.

Often, protecting legacies is more important than progress. You see, achieving bigger and better things for the greater good is a threat to those who care only about protecting their own corner of the empire. A new strategy that delivers better results prompts questions about why nobody ever thought of it before. If real and more effective leadership emerged from unexpected quarters, the sands would start to shift for a changing of the guard.

And that’s the position that is rigorously defended by the senior ‘leaders’ who will stop at nothing to ring-fence their rings.

You’ll recognise businesses that have been infected with this malaise because they reflect the following characteristics:

– Senior managers projecting themselves as self-professed thought leaders with 10, 15, 20-odd years at the same firm. Let’s face it – they skim articles off the internet and share with their anodyne comments because, well, they don’t know any better, do they? They routinely miss the essential point that when you share content, you should be adding to it, improving it, or at least assisting your audience to understand what it’s relevant.

– Clumps of staff within the same business area decamping in a short space of time, frequently to the same competitor, while the tired old hacks running the relevant department(s) remain in post. The bosses don’t have anything to offer to the up-and-coming movers and shakers, who in turn recognise that poor managers block talent. They’re fearful of it.

– Pockets of tired old hacks who remain within the same roles for years, who never push boundaries. They serve as a sycophantic cushion for the weak bosses, who in turn offer their protection and patronage. You’ll see occasional LinkedIn posts from the said pisspoor patrons showering vomit-inducing praise on their team members. Well, nobody goes on to attack the person who makes them look good, do they?

– A deluge of swivel-eyed video content from senior ‘leaders’ reading from scripts. They just think that any video is good even if the content is crap. Alas, you can paint a turd gold, but it’s still a turd. The script caper again betrays that there’s nothing being generated from within.

What keeps the wheels oiled and turning are narratives that keep the salaries ticking over and the overblown job titles and associated kudos in place. Playing a central role is the concept of inevitability is the most useful standby because the conniving cabal won’t ever need to get their hands dirty by shafting others and risk potentially damaging confrontation. When serious questions get tossed in by any doubters, the suggestion that a debacle was unavoidable brings a free-pass salvation.

Of course, serious players who know the score just get up and go anyway of their own accord. After they’ve left, the shitehawk senior leaders trash them, risk-free, and mould that often purely subjective critique to fit their own self-serving script.

For poor businesses, COVID would have been a godsend – worth two years of unassailable excuses for inescapable failures, possibly more.

Sadly, there’s no sign of any vaccination for that yet.

Ole, ole, ole, ole…

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