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Accountability & Competency EMEA Ethics & Culture Training & Competency

What Does Good Leadership Look Like?

For some, the ability to lead groups of people seems to be intuitive, but this can also be learned. In reality, good leadership needs to be developed—cultivated over time—and then maintained. But what does this involve?

Your company enters a business relationship with a new vendor at the urging of your CEO. The new vendor has been missing meetings and deliverables, but your CEO doesn’t push the issue. This reflects poorly on your own business, causing productivity and revenue to suffer and putting your corporate reputation at risk. You later learn your CEO has a personal relationship with the vendor. Instead of acting in the best interest of the company, he or she chose to cater to their network relationship. 

This kind of conflict of interest is not only an example of bad leadership. It could be a compliance issue. It could also be detrimental to company morale, by countering a culture of trust and transparency. There are ways to avoid this situation, and it all starts with a strong foundation for good leadership.

Good leaders will make a point of understanding the requirements defined by both business policy and regulations, such as SMCR (Senior Managers and Certification Regime). They will do this not only to act ethically and with integrity, but also to promote a strong company culture and reputation. As a leader, it’s important to disclose the type of information noted in the scenario above to your organization, and take the proper steps to review if this is a viable relationship.

Setting such an example will keep the entire team accountable and make them more likely to disclose any conflicts of interest they may have. A competent leader will explain their network relationships, as well as assure their team that this will not affect their ability to keep the company’s best interests in mind. If there’s any doubt, a good leader would stop considering any business relationship where a conflict of interest might exist. 

Leaders must know where they excel, and where they may need assistance. Identifying their strengths and weaknesses will result in a well rounded team able to utilize each other’s skill sets to achieve the company’s goals. According to a recent Forbes article, “becoming a ‘good leader’ starts with how you treat your team.” It also means recognizing when a conflict of interest arises in your team.

For some, the ability to lead groups of people seems to be intuitive, but this can also be learned. In reality, good leadership needs to be developed—cultivated over time—and then maintained. But what does this involve?

Being open to feedback, and actively seeking and applying it, is an important first step. To be effective, this should draw on multiple perspectives: not just that of the boss, but also those of close colleagues and stakeholders across the business. In particular, staff with direct or indirect reporting lines can provide valuable feedback on qualities such as staff management effectiveness, communications, and how clear the vision is for the manager’s team or department. Soft-skills workshops can ensure leaders keep building their effectiveness as managers, while formal coaching can provide focused attention on key areas for improvement.

Ongoing training—in areas including conflicts of interest—also plays an essential role in cultivating good leaders, and in reinforcing the organization’s code of conduct and compliance program. With a growing number of individual accountability regimes coming into force globally, organizations must be able to demonstrate compliance with the regulatory jurisdiction’s training and competency (T&C) requirements.

In addition to meeting current specific regulatory obligations, an organization’s T&C initiatives can contribute to driving a culture of compliance, whereby employees understand the important role they play as individuals in meeting regulatory compliance, supporting an ethical workplace that they can be proud of, and ensuring they are part of a highly reputable business.

How can effective leaders manage the full scope of complex compliance obligations and help their employees embrace the opportunity to do what’s right for their organizations? Today, specialized software solutions made for compliance can streamline and even automate aspects of managing and tracking employee activity. This includes implementing training requirements, monitoring employees’ participation in the training programs, and assessing their effectiveness. For example, if conflicts of interest are a persistent issue with employees, training in this area either needs to be re-evaluated or amplified.

Technology solutions for T&C can also add tremendous value in providing a holistic picture—even enterprise-wide—of employee activity and data, and where there may be gaps or risks. By having a reliable record and transparency into the data, senior managers can more effectively pinpoint where there may be issues with an individual employee or even a department. They can then make informed decisions about what actions to take, whether it be terminating an employee due to unethical conduct or investing more in developing their employees to help them better understand and embrace their role in compliance.

This advanced technology helps financial services firms embed an evidential system of training and competence within their business. This not only helps meet regulatory requirements, but also drives professionalism across the business, supporting a culture of compliance, and developing their most valuable asset: their people. The result? An aligned team, better business outcomes and a strong reputation for the organization. There’s no conflict of interest there.