lion food
n. Anyone in middle management or a similar administrative position.
Lion Food: tech-term for middle managers.
—Keith Ferrell, “,” Chief Executive, January 01, 1999
1991 (earliest)
Within IBM they talk jokingly of middle management as 'lion food'; a reference to a hypothetical lion which hid near an IBM office and got away with eating a manager a day for a year because nobody noticed what it was doing.
—Alan Cane, “Management,” Financial Times (London), December 18, 1991
This phrase is derived from the following joke:
Two lions escape from the zoo and split up to increase their chances of survival. They meet again after two months and find that one of them is skinny and the other is overweight. The thin one says:

"How did you manage? I ate a human just once and they turned out a small army to chase me — guns, nets, it was terrible. Since then I've been reduced to eating mice, insects, even grass."

The fat one replies:

"Well, I hid near an IBM office and ate a manager a day. And nobody even noticed!"
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