Or maybe what I should have asked is What makes a great Risk Management Team?


Active Risk undertook some comprehensive original research back in 2011 to discover the traits of a great risk manager. I was looking at the research recently and it struck me that the results are even more relevant than ever before.


As businesses have been going through uncertain times with the global recession and now managing through the minefield as we start to see real signs of economic recovery, mixed with heightened concerns around terrorist/geopolitical activities, strong risk management is more important than ever.


We found that risk managers come in all shapes and sizes, however, there is a stereotypical risk manager and about 60% of respondents to our survey fell broadly into this category – which we called Technicians. The type of traits they demonstrate are as you would expect:


  • Analytical
  • Logical
  • Naturally cautious
  • Attention to detail
  • Stick to facts/follow rules
  • Ignore emotionally charged arguments
  • Serious and responsible
  • Suspicious of others
  • Brief and to the point


We discovered that many risk teams also included two other types, which we called Evangelists (about 30%) and Drivers (about 10%).


Evangelists tend to be inspiring leaders, very optimistic, diplomatic and persuasive. They can be verbose and prone to exaggerate, sometimes over familiar and can appear to lack gravitas.


The Drivers on the other hand are very pragmatic, results driven, focused and determined, prefers results to facts. They can be demanding, impatient with no time for too much detail and feel the end justifies the means.


What we found was that the most successful risk teams had a mix of personality types, because you need a wide range of skills to be truly affective.


While Technicians – the archetypal risk manager – are analytical, cautious, numerate, precise and principled, capable of gathering, recording and analysing large amounts of data, they are not necessarily so good at communication and in particularly persuading other departments of the importance of providing risk data. Technicians need Evangelists to help them sell the benefits of risk management to other departments and to the Board. The department also needs some Drivers to ensure that objectives are achieved, projects stay on track and are brought to a successful conclusion.


Having a mix of these different personality types could cause friction, however, acknowledgement that not everyone works in the same way, and that each has their own talents is a good step towards maintaining a harmonious department. Learning how to deal with the other personality types, possibly with specific training, is critical to running a successful and highly effective risk management team that can help the organisation through the current tricky business climate.


As with many situations, the right mix of people and skills with good communication is what makes a really great risk management team.

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