Systematic Risk Management Blog

Five Traits of a Successful Risk Manager

Posted by Vernon Grose on Tue, Apr 2, 2013 @ 11:04 AM

“Only Outstanding People Should Apply” — that is the headline that ought to be placed above every job description of a risk manager.

But what does “outstanding” mean? In this sense, it means people who are distinguishable among their colleagues for certain traits or abilities. A "Pentagon of Peculiarity" (figure below) depicts five traits that seem to set the risk professional apart from others, and they are a formidable five.

5 Traits of a Successful Risk Manager2iLet's break down these five traits in more detail.

1. Analytical Inclination

This is a foundational trait. We are looking for those who, almost subconsciously, are always analyzing. They continually ask why: Why do I drive in this lane of traffic? Why is payday on Friday? Why do I live in that house? Why did she marry me? This persistent tendency is essential for systematic risk management.

2. Personal Integrity

This is the second trait not because it is less important but because it must be preceded by an analytical mind. Personal integrity probably derives from values instilled during childhood. Certainly, it cannot be put on or taken off, like a coat. You either treasure it or you don’t. It is particularly significant in risk management because truth about risk is seldom popular or welcome in a benefit-oriented milieu.

3. Technical Competence

The third trait speaks of the ability to understand the pressures that force the benefit-oriented to oppose risk prevention. In other words, risk managers must know the field in which risk is being evaluated. Otherwise, they will be bowled over when they should have stood their ground.

4. Salesmanship

Listing salesmanship is not intended to imply the use of “hard sell.” Instead, this trait is built on deep interest in people and their ideas. Communication of loss prevention concepts with those who may oppose risk thinking must be done in a manner that commands their respect. Persuasion should al­ways be done with the recipient’s interests in mind.

5. Creativity

The final trait connotes a person who is basi­cally dissatisfied with status quo, one who always has a better way to accomplish anything. Everyone is creative to a degree. But we are thinking of a person with inner stimulation adequate to overcome the common resistance to preventing losses.

Seldom does anyone enter the risk management arena with proof that he or she possesses all five traits. Yet knowing what is expected often produces it.

Free eBook on 5 Weaknesses of ERM

 This post includes excerpts from Vernon L. Grose's book, Managing Risk. Order here:

Managing Risk Cover Page

Topics: Risk manager, risk manager skill set, risk manager traits, Creativity, Salesmanship, Technical Competence, Analytical Inclination, Personal Integrity, risk manager qualities