I’d never heard of a ‘CLM’ until a colleague disagreed with me during the meeting in front of a client and their partners in some initiative thingy or another. I had said something wise and befitting my advancing years and grey hair and my young colleague had brutally pointed out that I was talking complete rot.
The senior chap from the partner company was obviously impressed by this and said something along the lines of ‘Wooohooo, young lady! You just made a CLM!’
‘Why, yes! A Career Limiting Move! You know, disagreeing with the boss like that!’
Both myself and young colleague were open-mouthed.
Firstly I avoid at all times any use of words like ‘boss’. I hate the word and the concept behind it. One of the great scourges of the Arab World is the whole attitude summed up in the phrase ‘Ana mudhir’ or ‘I am the boss’. If the boss says black is white, then black is white. And everyone goes down that unproductive path together, falling over each other in the rush to tell the boss what a visionary he is.
It’s one of the most revolting sights in business and if you thought the Arab World was alone, try working with a few American corporates...
Secondly, since when does disagreeing with a colleague because you’re young and know better count as a career limitation? I was lucky enough as a young man to work for someone that let me get away with youthful murder and the least I can do is tread the same path. For no better reason than that I was frequently right and my mentor was therefore frequently right to back me. I was also frequently wrong, but he had the grace to let me do that, too, without making too much fuss about it. I like to think that the balance was in the company’s favour.
So I do feel very strongly that people should have the space to have alternative viewpoints and opinions: that great work is put together by people who are happy to work together with give and take, be open to consultation and have enough mutual respect to take each others’ views into account. I’d die within hours of having to work in a company where colleagues were scared to disagree because the boss brooks no disagreement.
That doesn’t mean the young and opinionated shouldn’t be beaten up and put in their place when they’re being muckleheaded, by any means. And it doesn’t mean that I don’t ultimately reserve the right to a veto. But when someone knows they’re right and has the courage and passion to state it, then you have every reason in the world to listen to them just in case, God forbid, they know more than you do…
In short, CLM my butt.
Here endeth the lecture. Normal service resumed Sunday...