Ex-CEO of CBA and founding Chair of the Australian Government Future Fund, David Murray, wrote a piece in Business Insider recently about the collapse of trust in Australian banks. He writes, “Some specific experiences have led me to believe that the solution is more about good systems, good controls, and consistent behaviour by top executives than more-complex governance and micro-management by boards.”

I have always said to executive leadership teams and boards: The fastest way to waste your investment in risk is to ask for all the work and all the reports to be done and then not engage in real discussion about the results. Monkey see monkey do. If staff see management and the Board disinterested in the risk discussion, not wanting to hear bad news, impatient to get onto the discussion about the next major investment, why would you expect staff to put any more effort into risk management than is required to tick the box?

I have conversations every week about how organisations treat risk and compliance in particular, as a “tick-the-box exercise”. Leaders need to stop blaming staff and start leading by showing consistent behaviour by making ethical, emotion-lead, but rationality-steered decisions. Please.



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Bryan Whitefield works with strategic leaders across all sectors to help organisations harness uncertainty – uncertainty is the strategic leader’s best friend. He is the author of DECIDE: How to Manage the Risk in Your Decision Making. He is the designer of the Expert Needs Advocates Program for support functions and the Persuasive Advisor Program for internal advisors. Both can be booked individually or in-house. For more information about Bryan, please click here.

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