A small dose of humility goes a long way

Tomorrow's Business

A shocking thing happened today. In between his usual 7am jibes about my journalistic competence – all in good fun, I’m sure – Sir Martin Sorrell paused for breath, admitted he wasn’t entirely certain about something and said: “What do you think?”

After I’d picked myself off the floor and confessed to not necessarily knowing the answer to absolutely everything either, I started to type.

Shares in Sir Martin’s WPP group crashed 12% as trading began. He admitted 2017 was “not a pretty year” and seemed to concede all sorts of ground to critics who think his empire is sprawling and in need of a shake-up.

Sorrell is one of the business leaders of the age. He’s close to editors and proprietors. And has strong influence on where advertising money gets spent, which means hacks aren’t wild about giving him a kicking.

To his credit, he does a lot of his own PR. He’s accessible; he returns calls and emails quickly.

But there’s a large number of people keen to see him fall and things aren’t exactly going his way just now.

That show of humility today – what do you think? – might have been usefully employed more readily on the way up.

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