Empathy is an important thing for any chief compliance officer or compliance practitioner to not just to practice, but to master. Recently there were two articles in the New York Times and one from the Wall Street Journal that discussed this character trait and I found them useful to consider for the leadership toolkit of the CCO or compliance profession.
The WSJ article was entitled, “Companies Try New Strategy: Empathy” by Joann Lublin. In it, she reported on the growing trend of companies to provide leadership lessons in empathy. The reason is quite simple, you may never know how someone is feeling if you do not ask them. This trait is being developed more by corporations, particularly with the movement of millennials into the workplace.
The first NYT piece was by Daryl Cameron, Michael Inzlicht and William A. Cunningham, entitled “Empathy is Actually a Choice” and the second was in the Corner Office section entitled “Is Empathy on Your Résumé?” The first piece focused on research by the authors and the second was Bryant’s weekly piece on business leadership.
The researchers noted, “While we concede the exercise of empathy is, in practice, often far too limited in scope, we dispute the idea that this shortcoming is inherent, a permanent flaw in the emotion itself…we believe that empathy is a choice that we make to extend ourselves to others. The 'limits' to our empathy are merely apparent, and can change, sometimes drastically, depending on what we want to feel.”
Yet for the CCO or compliance practitioner, Butterfield points out specific areas where the trait of empathy can yield great respect for you and your position in any corporation. People rarely think of courtesy and respect as leadership skills, but if you can bring these to bear in your compliance practice, you can garner greater influence as not only someone who cares but someone who cares and gets things accomplished. For any corporate disciple which relies on influence to succeed these simple tools can go a long way to providing to you a wider manner to impact corporate culture, become a trusted partner and be a part of any significant business conversation earlier rather than later in the game.