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    « PODCAST: #HRHappyHour 345 - WorkInspired: How Leaders Can Build Great Organizations | Main | PODCAST: #HRHappyHour 344 - Make Work Simpler, Smarter, and More Agile »
    Friday
    Nov022018

    FOLLOW UP: When your 'dream job' ends up being a nightmare

    A few months back, just as the soccer World Cup was getting underway, I shared the tale of how the Spanish National Team manager Julen Lopetegui was fired from his National Team post just days before the side's first World Cup game, for the 'unforgivable' offense of agreeing to take the Manager's job at club Real Madrid, a position he would start at the conclusion of the World Cup.

    Essentially, Lopetegui had lined up his next gig, his post-National Team Manager job while still serving as the National Team Manager, thereby incensing the Spanish Soccer Federation powers that be so much so, that they showed him the exit door just days before the most imporant soccer tournament in the World. Lopetegui was out and the Spanish side ended up not impressing in the tournament without him, not factoring in the contention for the title.

    But for Lopetegui, the disappointment of not seeing his job out at the National Team should have worn off quickly, as his new job, manager at one of the most successful and famous clubs in world soccer could rightly be seen as a 'dream' job for any soccer manager. A rich and famous club, an annual contender for the Spanish League title, the Champions League title, and a club where many of the very best players in the world aspire to play for. All in all, a 'dream' scenario.

    Well, not so fast my friend.

    About four months into the role at Real Madrid, and our pal Mr. Lopetegui finds himself in the unenviable position of losing his second 'dream job'. After a slow start to the season for Madrid, Julen is out. From a piece on Deadspin reporting the news:

    Pour one out for Julen Lopetegui, who has had just about the worst possible year a soccer manager can have. Real Madrid fired Lopetegui this afternoon, one day after an embarrassing 5-1 ass-kicking by Messi-less Barcelona, thus ending a nightmare of a year.

    As of just four months ago, the poor dude had the Spanish national team rolling into the World Cup on tremendous form. Spain had never lost under Lopetegui’s guidance, going 14-6-0 with a +48 goal difference during his two years in charge. But then, just one day before the World Cup started in Russia, Lopetegui was unceremoniously and inexplicably shit-canned by the Spanish federation in a bizarre display of frat-boy “alpha” posturing because the federation president was mad Lopetegui committed the mortal sin of, uh, not telling the federation soon enough that he was going to take another job after the World Cup. Predictably, Spain completely collapsed once the tournament started.

    A pretty amazing fall from grace from not one, but two of the best, highest-profile and most sought-after jobs in soccer management. Whether or not Lopetegui can recover from these setbacks and ever again score a role at a big club or as a national team manager of a top side will be interesting to follow. Because you could argue that both of these dismissals were not completely his fault.

    He was really successful as the National Team manager before they let him go for reasons having nothing to do with performance. And at Real Madrid he never really had much of a chance, only managing 14 games, and dealing with the loss of the team's best player, Christiano Ronaldo, who was allowed to leave the club.

    Is there a lesson to all of this? I don't know. I guess that even for 'star' performers at the highest level of their profession, sometimes things happen, and it doesn't end up well at all. Lopetegui did a lot of things right by most generally accepted career advice, and it still turned out all wrong for him.

    Let's hope he can get it turned around. And let's remember to watch our own backs as well.

    Have a great weekend!

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