By Abid Ali
Are people who run companies and organisations a breed apart? What makes some climb to the top of an organisation and others join a crowded hamster wheel?
Rupert Murdoch hasn't got to the top without cracking a few eggs along the way.
Ruthless and calculating - from his takeover of the News of the World to taking on the printers and now closing down the tabloid. All part of the makeup of businessmen - without regulation they would run amok!
And here's the thing, your boss probably has a favourite someone s/he's grooming for the top. They often call this mentoring.
How do you get to become the apple of your boss’s eye? Some bosses see a little of themselves in young upstarts. Some share an interest, run in the same social circles or meet in designated smoking areas.
Just take a look outside the boss's office - see who's queuing to get in. They are the least competent people. You'll wonder why they have been promoted?
But your boss needs eyes and ears on the production floor; as he makes it up the chain he needs people who crawl to his command to keep you in check. Trusted lieutenants who'll be protected at all costs - even when they make disastrous decisions.
And here’s the problem for Rupert Murdoch and for all businesses that grow beyond human control. You lose touch, you have no idea what your left hand is doing. While it took you almost a half a century to build a brand it'll take someone a few years or days to destroy your reputation.
Most of us are just custodians of brands. We take pride that we work for the biggest and the best. Others however who run the brand as custodians - believe they are the reason for a brand's success and are never really tested. That's why grey men are put in place to run companies.
It's when these grey men start to think they are bigger than the brand that things go awry. Britain's General Electric Company - not to be confused with GE of the United States - was one such company until new management decided they would sell everything off and turn it into a telecoms company. The rest is history.
I remember an interview CNN’s Todd Benjamin did with Sir John Bond - the former chairman of HSBC. He asked: "You literally worked your way up from being a trainee. Why do you think you made it all the way to the top?"
Sir John Bond replied: "Luck!"
An honest man gives an honest answer.
Rupert Murdoch's empire owes a lot to luck. The Murdochs - masters of negotiations and deal making - are now playing a masterful hand.
The News of the World had to go for the greater and more financially lucrative BSkyB.
Rebekah Brooks is the firewall - she'll be pushed to save the family firm when the deal needs to be resurrected or the fallout spreads to other parts of News Corp.
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|William A. Cook|