Gaining a Seat at the Table – Influencing from Within

Throughout my career, I’ve never heard a business leader say compliance isn’t important. Time and again, through countless conversations and interviews, compliance is touted as paramount to the firm. And while those presidents and CEOs may think they believe that, often compliance is left out of those key meetings and decisions, only being filled in later to “make it happen.” If you have “compliance” in your title, likely this has happened to you. So how can you keep this from happening?

Earning Confidence

If you expect to get an invite to the meeting simply because of your title or status at the firm, I suspect you’re in for a rude awakening. When conversations come up about a new offering, the goal is to have people think, “Let’s get Compliance involved early so we go down the right path.” No one likes to have an idea gain momentum only to have it change course (or worse, squashed) later on. That’s uncomfortable on both sides of the table.

In order to be a part of those discussions, you have to prove you’ll add value. So how does compliance show its value when it’s typically viewed as the “No” department?

First, be a student of the firm. This is easy when you are new and trying to gain a fundamental understanding of what exactly the company does. But beyond those initial meetings with departments, dig deeper. Ask questions that are not directly tied to regulatory considerations.

Ask questions like:

  • What’s our main product line? How is the firm’s overall revenue tied to the various offerings?
  • How do we define our target market? How has that evolved and are there any plans to change this?
  • What systems do we use? How do they tie in with each other? Can I see what kinds of reports and data we can get out of them?

Showing that you’re interested in things beyond your day-to-day responsibilities shows a genuine concern for the overall success of the company. It also helps you piece things together for your own understanding and will ultimately make it easier to get things accomplished.

Demonstrating Value

Once you’ve earned the seat at the table, how do you keep it? It’s no surprise that most measures of success are quantifiable. Firms often set out high-level goals – so how can you tie your efforts into the firm’s successes?

You have to understand what the goals are. I know this seems obvious, but as you’re reading this now, can you recite your firm’s goals for this year? What about the 3- and 5-year goals?

Don’t let yourself become just an email address. Just as it’s important to get to know people on a more personal level, let them also get to know you. Communications (and compliance) goes both ways.

To read the full chapter Gaining a Seat at the Table – Influencing from Within, download The CCO’s Playbook.


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