Leadership In Compliance – Lessons From The World Of Football


Product DetailsYesterday I wrote about collaboration as a key component of any compliance practitioner’s toolkit. Today I want to look at leadership for the compliance professional through the eyes of three world renowned soccer managers who were featured in book entitled “The Manager: Inside the Minds of Football’s Leaders” by author Mike Carson. (For the uninitiated amongst you football is what the world outside of the US calls soccer.) This book was reviewed in the Financial Times (FT) by John Sunyer.

A.     Working with the Business Unit

The first example I drew was from Jose Mourinho, the manager of Chelsea, who reflected on what it was like to try to handle “outrageous talent” in the age of growing player power vis-à-vis his manager. Mourinho was quoted as saying “One of the things that you must remember as a leader is that your people are more important than you are.” Carson cited examples that he tried to sit with his players when possible when traveling. But if the business class is full, he sits in coach. This tactic has two effects. First, it emphasizes to his players that he is one of us while at the same time indicating that he is looking out for their interests as well.

I believe that one of the insights to draw from Mourinho’s example is to not only listen to the business unit folks but to work with them to develop compliance regimes that work in the real world. For instance in the area of facilitation payments, a company should listen to key employees who travel overseas to high risk areas about situations that they face where a bribe is solicited. As a compliance practitioner you also need an understanding of areas where what employees face is not solicitation of bribes but really extortion because their life, liberty or health and safety is in immediate peril. Making clear to your employees that the company will back them up if they are required to pay monies to extricate themselves from such a situation is a key for any international operations.

B.     Get Out on the Road

A second example came from David Moyes, who recently took over at Manchester United for the recently retired, legendary Sir Alex Ferguson. In 1998, when Moyes had just started his career as a manager after retiring as a player, he traveled to France to watch teams train for the World Cup, which was held the same year. He drove around to multiple team training sites to observe not only what they did but how they did it. Moyes was quoted as saying “You can read books…and pick up things but I had wanted real passion. I wanted to get out on the road and I wanted to find new things.”

I think that one of the messages from Moyes leadership is that a compliance practitioner must obtain realistic input from geographies, cultures, business units and corporate functions within the company. This is because a compliance procedure which may work in Texas may not work in Indonesia. But, more importantly, there may be other resources in your company which can assist your compliance work. However, to find these you need to get out and look around other disciplines in your business. Some of the questions that one might ask to determine where other departments might be able to assist the compliance function; I suggest that you should start with the following three inquiries:

  1. What can yours do? This is the initial assessment that you need to make about what your compliance department can do. What are your resources and budget? Start with this question.
  2. What can theirs do? In looking around your company, next ask this question. What are the functions of the departments? Are there things that they are currently doing which can supplement the compliance function? Are there functions in that department’s core function which can assist the company in the doing of compliance?
  3. How many employees does each of you have? An obvious concern is the number of employees that are available to assist the compliance function.

C.     Stay Cool

The third example came from the longtime manager of Arsenal, Arsène Wenger. After a horrific thrashing at the hands of the Sir Alex Ferguson led Manchester United in 2011, Wenger was quoted as saying that “One of the most important qualities as a leader is the massive resistance to stress…show that you are strong…don’t panic.” This advice could be equally useful if you read about an investigation of alleged Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) on the front page of the New York Times (NYT), Wall Street Journal (WSJ) or FT.

I think that one of the keys to not panicking is to have a plan in place. In other words, have an investigation protocol because during the high stress times of the initial notice of allegations of bribery and corruption, it is easier to maintain your cool if you have a plan in place. A good starting point might be the Fluor Corporation investigation protocol. I have heard Jacki Trevino, Senior Manager, Corporate Compliance at Fluor Corporation, present the Fluor investigation protocol. It consists of the following five steps (1) Opening and Categorizing the Case; (2) Planning the Investigation; (3) Executing the Investigation Plan; (4) Determining Appropriate Follow-Up; and (5) Closing the Case. I recognize that if a case of significant bribery or corruption is uncovered that there may be more or additional steps that you may need to take. However if you follow this basic protocol, you should be able to work through most investigations, in a clear, concise and cost effective manner. Furthermore, you should have a report at the end of the day which should stand up to later scrutiny if a regulator comes looking. Finally, you will be able to document, document, and document, not only the steps you took but why and the outcome obtained.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Thomas Fox, Compliance Evangelist | Attorney Advertising

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