The Great Debate UK

We need risk-ready leaders


-Geoff Trickey is managing director of The Psychological Consultancy. The opinions expressed are his own.-

France is being rocked by its biggest financial scandal as Societe Generale is standing against ‘rogue trader’ Jerome Kerviel who is accused of gambling away nearly five billion euros. The core tenet of the argument comes down to risk. That as an employee Jerome was “encouraged” by his bosses to take risks while his bosses accuses him of taking “inhuman” risks.

Organisations need to understand how people instinctively respond to risk and the extent to which, in any situation, an individual can be the most significant risk factor. In the aftermath of the banking crisis, and with news headlines of rogue traders, there is, of course, a desire to solve these problems although this is mostly evidenced by an unhelpfully emotive atmosphere of blame and recrimination.

Organisations are ambivalent about risk. For many it is a key ingredient for business success and is an encouraged behaviour whether in an entrepreneurial start-up or a large multi-national organisation. For others, risk is a health and safety obsession, identifying what is out there that can harm us.