Peaceful leaders and Compliance Officers


By Roy Snell, SCCE CEO

79312369Thinking it would be interesting to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of famous people as potential compliance and ethics officers, I started to look for lists on the Internet … Bieber, Trump, Winfrey, etc. The lists were not helpful. Most famous people have their limitations. One list I found did stand out, “Peaceful Leaders.” I felt almost everyone on the list could be a very successful compliance and ethics officer. I posted it on LinkedIn, and many interesting comments were made. Then my sister Teri, an artist, posted a question. She wanted to know what traits the peaceful leaders had that the compliance and ethics officers needed. Here was my response.

Dear Teri,

The important skills (particularly related to the peaceful leaders list) of a compliance officer are:

  • Has Influence

  • Compassionate to others and their needs

  • Charismatic

  • Civil

  • Caring/friendly

  • Respects others and their concerns/ideas/needs

  • Respected

  • Listens to learn

  • Finds ways to compromise that benefits both sides

  • Doesn’t pick sides but rather bases actions on facts

  • Trusted

  • Trusts (but verifies)

  • Inspirational and inspired by others

  • Can focus on a mission and see the big picture

  • Values/principle driven and uncompromising when necessary

  • Understands the return on investment of their time/energy

  • Strong-willed

  • Determined

  • Lets the little things go

  • Humble

  • Has integrity

  • Selfless

  • Ethical

  • Et cetera

They must also be un-conflicted/empowered/independent and have authority/responsibility/accountability… but that is determined by their organization rather than being a personal trait. All of this is a tall order. Frankly, in a way, it’s impossible. This is why the compliance officer’s job is so hard. However, society expects organizations to try harder. Society has specifically asked organizations to dedicate someone to this role. Organizations have come up short in the past because they lacked effort and focus on these issues. The reason why the role of the compliance officer is so beneficial and so successful is that organizations are trying to be better by asking someone to focus on all these difficult skills to effectively manage a compliance program. Despite the fact the bar is set so high, we will do better than we have in the past by simply trying. Perfection is not possible, but improvement is… if we try and if we dedicate someone to this role.