"Watch what you say - keep your head below the parapet - don't make waves"
In some ways, these have become the watchwords of this remarkable recession and if we don't see this in professional services firms, then we are blinkered. Now there's a thought for you - if you are wearing blinkers, can you see them?
And there has been a time in the past few years when it was right to batten down the hatches and just get through it. But hasn't that time now ended?
I was lucky to work at one time with a great man; John Collier. A fierce intellect and so analytical and precise that people feared being in a room with him in case they fell into a conversation. He sat me down one day and said "John, I want you to make more mistakes - not ones that will threaten the wellbeing of the entire firm, but proper mistakes".
It was John's way of saying that he could see I was managing in my role but too cautious - too risk averse - not growing. But also, by putting it on the table, he was also saying " it will be alright, I will accept the decisions you make, I will be available to mentor you, but most of all, I will forgive you"
Empowering people will be a driver in the next few years and I think that we are pretty good at it. What perhaps we should treat as our stretch is letting great people know that we will support the risks that they will undoubtedly take in order to help us collectively succeed.
How can you say that, John, we do it already?
We do it - but do we say it?
You are 6 years old and learning to swim. Your dad isn't going to let you drown, but don't you get there quicker when he says "it's OK, I am here" ?
Not an amnesty on risk, but a clear message that mistakes are a part of growing and we have trust.