Regulatory compliance professionals have historically advanced within the profession by becoming subject matter experts. In the increasingly complex regulatory environment financial institutions are facing, leadership skills are often as—if not more— important to professional effectiveness than deep expertise. Leadership ability rests upon a different set of skills. These skills not only encompass knowledge and expertise in the regulations and activities of compliance, but the ability to effectively interface with business line leaders in order to successfully manage the intersection of increased regulatory risk and the demands of business in a highly competitive industry. Compliance/risk managers can grow in their roles and claim their seats at executive tables by understanding and honing the skills that propel successful leaders and influencers. More specifically, the leadership skills needed in today’s compliance leaders include the ability to:
- understand their own leadership style and the leadership styles of other compliance officers and business people;
- develop a strong leadership voice and presence;
- embody effective assertiveness and direct communication with peers, more senior business people, and direct reports;
- motivate and inspire teams;
- handle difficult conversations;
- solve intractable problems; and
- develop greater self-awareness and a deeper understanding of how to avoid becoming an obstacle to your own success.
The level and rate of change taking place in regulatory compliance makes the job of effective risk management a significant challenge even for the most experienced compliance professional. However, with this challenge comes an opportunity to lead transformational change on both a personal and professional level.