Why Businesses Fail (Part 1)

Bill Pollock

Bill Pollock


The Nasty Case of Injelititis: When Incompetent Leaders Infect Your Company

Look around your company. Look beside you. No matter where you look, jealousy and incompetency may right now be taking hold and weakening your organization from the inside out.

Northcote Parkinson, author of “Parkinson’s Law”, had a name for it. When you fuse incompetence and jealousy together, the remaining substance is Injelitance. The disease that results from this is Injelititis. 

“The first sign of danger is represented by the appearance in the organization’s hierarchy of an individual who combines in himself a high concentration of incompetence and jealousy.” - C. Northcote Parkinson

Parkinson was a British Naval historian and author. With the publication of his Parkinson’s Law, he became a well-known academic of public administration and management. You are probably familiar with his proverb, “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion” coined in 1955 as an opening line for The Economist magazine.

Jealous and incompetent managers/leaders, and even those who may be adequately competent can do a lot of damage in a short period of time. Why? Because insecure leaders are focused on themselves, posturing to look good, and desperately trying to stay in control to the detriment of their staff.


Some signs of leadership Injelititis:

  • Their staff is not emotionally committed.
  • They have high levels of turnover in their department.
  • They purposefully do not hire the most qualified candidates.
  • They have an aversion to helping others grow.
  • They set unrealistic deadlines for their staff.
  • They may sabotage the career prospects of their talented employees.
  • They micromanage.
  • They often present their teams’ work as their own.
  • They don’t allow their staff to communicate directly with other senior management.
  • Their profits are falling.


In this primary stage of Injelititis, there is a whole lot of damage going on that may not be picked-up until it’s too late. It’s infecting one department and may be rooted elsewhere in the company. If the roots take hold, the organization can quite possibly deteriorate.


The fallout from Injelititis

Let’s look at the damage Injelititis can cause. It starts with staff morale. If staff are not happy, they will not be engaged. Research from Harvard Business Review found that 71 percent of managers feel employee engagement is one of the most important factors in overall organizational success. You will not have high engagement (enthusiastic and committed staff) with a leader who suffers from Injelititis. It won’t happen. And that lack of engagement will have a profound effect on productivity. Happiness and productivity go hand in hand. The happier your employees are, the more productive they will be and the more successful your business will become. According to Gallup, highly engaged teams are 21% more productive. And productivity is directly linked to profitability.

Studies from the Queens University School of Business and the Gallup organization revealed that companies with low levels of engagement experience at least 16 percent lower profitability and 65 percent lower share price over time. Managers suffering from Injelititis can’t connect the dots between happy, engaged staff to productivity and profitability. They are inward looking and focused only on their own survival through controlling strategies. They don’t understand the soul crushing damage they are causing and how it puts their department and their own career in jeopardy. Winning for them is a one-man show.  

“One by one, we all left.”

“My boss was a master for taking credit for other people’s work. He was also two-faced. He would say one thing to you and say the exact opposite to someone else. He was exceedingly lazy and could never be counted on. He made a great show of being seen saying the right things, particularly in front of management so he was popular with them and made an impression. In reality, he was incompetent. All of this made the team very discouraged. One by one, we all left.”

- Director of Communications, Retail Industry

The failure of any business is largely traceable to people. Staff will either feel secure or insecure. They will either feel motivated and engaged, or just plow through the day trying to do what needs to be done so they get paid. With a boss whose behaviour screams Injelititis, every day for them is unpredictable. Will the boss be mean-spirited, make unreasonable demands, and withhold appreciation? Will they be walking on eggshells? With that unpredictability comes stress and increased absenteeism.

When staff are feeling undervalued, not appreciated, or shown respect, sooner or later, they will start looking elsewhere for other opportunities. Turnover percentages then continue their ascent and the department continues its decay and downwards spiral.


Something must be done. Is there a solution?


Let’s snap a picture

  • A controlling, incompetent and jealous manager/leader
  • Unhappy staff who are not productive and want to leave


The department is a mess and the rot is taking hold. The question arises, how did this leader get hired in the first place?

Falling departmental profits, high absenteeism and turnover rates thankfully can’t be covered up forever. They will be noticed. Employee turnover rate is, after all, one of the most important HR metrics. A high employee turnover rate is a very expensive problem. Replacing employees costs a lot of money.

According to The Society for Human Resource Management, direct replacement costs can reach as high as 50% to 60% of an employee’s annual salary with total costs associated with turnover ranging from 90% to 200% of annual salary. You can’t hide those expense issues forever.

Start the Injelititis cure

The first step to gaining control is to truly understand what is going on. Staff working with an Injeltitis leader may be hesitant going to HR or speaking to another senior manager. And they certainly are not going to sit down and have a chat with their insecure boss. This is where data analytics can assist.


You can’t fix something if you don’t know what or where the problem is

Your company needs to be pro-active in understanding what is happening, not just in one department, but within the entire organization. For a clearer picture, start by leveraging the power of people analytics. HR analytics is about using data to analyze the people challenges in your organization.


For example:

  • What is driving your high employee turnover?
  • How much is turnover costing your business?
  • How can you reduce absenteeism?
  • Which of your managers are true leaders?
  • How can you optimize workforce cost, profit, and productivity?


Understanding turnover, for example, should be engrained as part of an organization’s strategy for success. Analytic predictive indicators of turnover can shed light on why employees decide to stick around your company, or not. Analytics is a primary tool to enable you to drill down to the issues. Many organizations collect data about their workforce productivity and performance. However, not as many know how to interpret and use that data to drive positive change and bottom-line results.


A new LinkedIn study that surveyed talent professionals indicated that 55 percent said they “still need help putting basic people analytics into practice.”

Help is a click away.


Utilizing data analytics is only the starting point to rooting out and controlling Injelititis behaviours. You need to employ other tactics to prevent Injelititis from taking hold that can result in irreparable damage and business failure.


In part two, When Incompetent Leaders with “Injelititis” Rise Through the Ranks, (link to part two) we’ll share another important action step you should take to help control Injelititis

Read Part 2 Here



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