I have not listened to every podcast so I may have missed a podcast on managing directs that are "protected" or at least appear that way due to friendships with C-levels, politicians, etc.
The first time I came across this was when I worked for the state of Massachusetts in 1995 and I received a new direct report hired because he knew the Secretary of XXXXXXXXXXXX. He knew absolutely nothing about the job and because no one else wanted him, he came to work for me as I was the most junior manager. In this case, the direct was willing to learn and did not present any discipline issues.
My current situation involves a direct report who is under-performing. He also happens to be close to the CEO. That is all I am going to say right now as others from my company listen to the podcasts. As you can guess, there is a lot more going on than I am saying. I am going to hold firm to what needs to be done.
If there is not already a postcast that discusses this topic, I respectfully request this topic be considered for the future.