What makes a good Risk Manager?
What are the attributes of a good risk manager? Rod talks about how stakeholder management, engagement and relationship management can be the most important elements.
What are the attributes of a good risk manager?
Now, one would think that the most important attribute that they would have is to understand risk management. Well, yes that’s important but one of the things that you really, really need to have as a skill as a risk manager is stakeholder management and engagement, and relationship management.
What I find in a lot of organisations is that the risk management staff can often be seen as a barrier to innovation or the naysayers or doomsayers of the organisation. Maybe they’re somebody that you bring out of the closet once every six months to do a review of your risks but outside of that, they’re not somebody you engage. So, the risk manager, they’re not the ones that are sitting in the office just drinking coffee and playing games on their computer. They need to be out there engaging with the organisation, asking them ‘What are your challenges at the moment?, What can go wrong?, How can I help you?’, facilitating risk workshops for others.
Now you can only be able to do all that if you have a significant base in terms of your knowledge and skills. So yes, that’s very important. But I’ve seen some very, very skilful and very knowledgeable risk managers who potentially don’t have those abilities in terms of relationship management and stakeholder engagement and they are less effective.
On the other hand, I’ve seen people who don’t have as much skill but have excellent relationship management skills and they’re able to engage the organisation to move forward in terms of risk. Now I’ve talked in the past about a risk culture. Now the risk managers within the organisation (if you’ve got one or multiple), they have a very important part to play in terms of this culture. And the more that people are talking about it, the more that people understand that risk management is part of the organisational decision-making process.
So, to re-iterate, yes, as a risk manager you need skills and knowledge around risk management – you need to know your stuff. But, you also need to be a really, really good stakeholder manager and a relationship manager. You are engaging the staff of that organisation to move them forward to a risk culture.