Even those even a little familiar with world football will know that Real Madrid sacked their manager, Rafael Benitez a few weeks ago.

He was brought in under a wave of optimism, hoping that some of the magic he wove at his previous employment, elevating a very mediocre Napoli side to title contenders in Italy’s Serie A’, would be brought to Real.

Seven months down the line, his record showed 3 games lost out 25 in all competitions, Real were still in the quarter finals of the champions league, and were still one of the top five sides in the world. Perhaps not as ‘magical’ as Real had hoped – but decent record by any standards. Except of course for a soccer super club like Real Madrid.

Real were embarrassingly beaten at the Bernabèu by arch-rivals Barcelona a few weeks earlier. They drew a game they should have had in the bag the weekend Rafa was fired. They are also out of the Copa de Rey. So Benitez’s time ran out. Out he went. And in came Real Madrid legend Zinedine Zidane to take the helm.

Even Legends are Accountable

I don’t use the word legend here lightly – Zidane is a true Real legend. No other Real player in recent history is more loved, respected and adored by the Real fans than he is. But even he is expected to produce results. Right away. Because there is no honeymoon at Real Madrid. There is no ‘bedding in’ period. Not even for Zinadine. He has to win, and win now, because Real are expected to win every game. And also win a trophy. At least one a year. And even that doesn’t guarantee you safety. You have to win two for that. If you don’t, then you’re thrown out to the managerial wilderness, only for another willing contender to step into the limelight. 13 managers in 13 years is the club’s managerial record so far – only two have survived more than 12 months.

I wonder how many businesses are run like that. Business leaders or owners who say that they want success, won’t accept failure - and actually categorically don’t accept it. It’s the reason in football there are super clubs – and in business some businesses oscillate, doing well for periods, but allowing themselves to be buffeted by boom and bust cycles. At a super club there is no time spent talking about things like ‘building an identity or ‘creating a culture’ – there is only one culture, and that is to win. Briefing sessions, executive retreats or brainstorming get-togethers are not required to analyse the current situation – a look at the league standings takes care of that.

OK granted, with huge teams like Real Madrid, things can be a little different. They are one of the biggest clubs in the world, they have huge resources to tap into, all the best players in the world want to play for them, and they play in one of the best leagues anywhere.

But nonetheless at this level of soccer, there is no room for ‘barren’ periods, for ‘lean’ years. There is no room to coast. There are no exceptions, and no excuses. Not even when they went out of the Copa del Rey to an administration error. There is no bad luck. That’s why super clubs remain super clubs.

The Business Quagmire

With business it’s different. Most of the time it seems is spent trying to explain why the business hasn’t succeeded yet. Why things haven’t taken off as originally hoped. But there’s still time…so perhaps it might happen in the near, perfect future…

Rather than businesses picturing themselves winning business of the year or increasing their value and profits exponentially, they prefer instead to compare and measure themselves against the other businesses and competitors in their industry – who are in a similar, if not worse condition.

On occasion, some businesses do take action to make a change – they bring in a high-flying CEO or consultant to ‘right the ship’. Only problem is, they get a year to evaluate the organization before anything fundamentally takes place. And at the end of it, the resulting evaluation could be something as obvious as “we’re just not good enough in [sales] [R&D] [customer retention] [whatever else] and we need to improve.”

And as we’ve all been influenced by corporate speak and mesmerised by the numbers game, it seems sensible to let the new professional repair guy do some more information gathering in the company before he actually repairs anything.

The employees in the meantime understand that there is no sense of urgency or any real drive for results. Instead of their efforts being focused on their jobs and the good of the team, their focus turns to enhancing their own standing, either to gain prominence and favour with the new administration, or to grab the attention of head-hunters.

Stumbling on into the second year, and the new head-honcho has by now taken control of the organisation. It’s time to shift some responsibility. He brings in a trusted crony or two as wingmen from previous escapades, makes a few management changes, strategically ‘shifts’ some employees. If all goes well, everyone profits. If not, then the executive team talk of the “processes being put in place” the management talk of “still a learning curve” and the employees are “buying in to the new culture.” And all the while the customers are watching and wondering what on earth’s going on.

A few more changes, a few more meetings, the sales figures are still target shy, but the general consensus comes out as “We’re definitely in a good position for a good run next year.”

Well, ok then, lets rock’n’roll. On we go…and it’s time to get those customers and over-achieve on those sales objectives. But inertia is proving difficult beast to overcome. So, any minor achievements and wins no matter how small start to get trumpeted as “proof that the process we’ve put in place is now working.” The aim of course is to deflect from the company’s real goal - making massive profits year on year for its stakeholders.
“Look we had abc customer say this, and xyz company really loves our products, and we’ve created a great culture in the office and the employees are on board with us all the way… We’re headed in the right direction…”

Before you know it, year three is gone… and customers, stakeholders and the world at large are starting to equate “processes being put in place” with “an endless tunnel to…nowhere.”
Amazingly, these guru wannabe’s are still place, even by year four – and beyond…even when results are nowhere near what was hoped, what was forecast. How many times have I experienced this in organisations of various sizes in my corporate career. And…amazingly, it still continues.

Results are Not a ‘Nice To Have’

But, at some point, even the most creative of pundits will have their day. You can’t fool all of the people all of the time… And so they spend their time ‘talking up’ their four duff year legacy, discharging some pompous rhetoric to boot. But it’s too late now, too late for anyone to care that the company’s performance is at an all time low.

Then, to use a football term, it’s time to “hang up their boots” – at least from this show – and to contemplate, publicly, what may have been. If only we had done this, or that, or the next thing, it all would have been so different. Those mermaids really did exist in the Sea of Waffle and Drivel. Ah yes, it all seems so crystal now.
But, hey, let’s not concern ourselves with that. There’s always the next job. Another company going down the pan that can do with corporate business revival skills – based on anything but results.

Author's Bio: 

George is a father, husband and true entrepreneur. After years of improving his own life, he created OnlyMensHealth.com to help millions of men to passionately improve theirs.