You pause outside the room. This is the moment you’ve dreaded and perhaps looked forward to. Taking a deep breath you tap on the boardroom door.
Or perhaps it’s a regular encounter when you report on important compliance issues. You don’t so much dread this experience as wonder how best to make a strong impact.
You’re not alone in wanting to exercise influence at this exalted level. Others too puzzle over how best to communicate and establish a powerful boardroom presence.
Life for compliance staff is challenging enough as previous research confirms. On average only about one day per week will be spent communicating with those outside the compliance function. Yet these few occasions can prove critical in conveying the core message of compliance, raising the cultural implications and steering senior executives to do the right thing.
At least a few times a year boards turn to their compliance officers and general counsels and ask, “Have we got it all covered?”
The traditional responses include the well-known litany of risk assessments, road maps, and metrics on helpline calls received, claims made, and courses completed. Do you need to present this information in person, or can it all be done in a report?
Boards need to be thorough and forthright in their discussions about these matters with their directors. As a compliance specialist though, attending at this level can feel foreign territory. These are not your regular colleagues. They have their existing relationships and ways of doing things.
You’d be unusual if you didn’t feel at least a slight pang of anxiety, or some tension.
What might make these demanding and perhaps over-critical board members regard you as useful? Do you have the defining quality to make the sort of impact needed? If it depends only on presenting evidence such as how the company is faring in risk reduction and mastering regulatory requirements then a simple factual document would be enough.
Instead, what you need is Boardroom Presence. This is entirely learnable and can make the difference between being highly regarded, viewed as someone with special qualities, or merely being seen as a technical messenger bringing good or bad tidings.
There is nothing wrong with merely being the messenger. But in so many organisations there’s a nasty habit of at least metaphorically shooting the messenger. That is, in presenting your compliance message you risk being labelled awkward, difficult or worse, worse still merely reactive.
The differences between the expected risk and compliance challenges identified by the compliance function on the one hand and boards on the other are likely to shape the dynamic of the relationship between compliance and senior managers.”
Cost of Compliance survey, Thomson Reuters, 2013
What is board room presence?
This is not some mysterious male magical power; plenty of women have it too. It stems from four aspects of human development: psychology, physiology, character, and chemistry. Because it’s entirely learnable, many who make an impact at board level have unravelled its secrets, each in their own way.
Part 2, explores each of these four aspects further—coming April 14th
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HELP FROM MAYNARD LEIGH –here are ways we can help
- Clarify what business ethics mean for your particular organisation
- Coach you to understand what it means in practical ways to be an ethical leader
- Run internal programmes to identify and develop core values–affecting company culture
- Assist leaders to learn to establish and communicate leadership tone–inspiring people to act responsibly
- Develop managers’ and leaders’ to talk about and promote business ethics with enthusiasm and confidence
- Advise on generating employee ethical engagement –where people go beyond the basic rules of compliance
- Develop new, creative ways to encourage people to speak up about ethical issues
- Strengthen HR Team and their ethical role
- Run forum theatre sessions to communicate about ethics in a highly interactive way
- Write articles or features for you on ethical leadership for your publication
- Speak about ethical leadership at your next company or public event