Charisma And Ethics

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 4.40.38 AMby Andrew Leigh, Featured Contributor

A leading private bank recently advertised for a new Head of Compliance with

The gravitas to deliver a successful compliance programme.”

(FT 20 August 2015)

At £150k a year plus benefits, anyone applying had better know what it means to have gravitas, how to acquire it, and how to use it. Yet why would anyone need this elusive human capability of gravitas?

Does this matter when, especially in compliance, surely a good knowledge of all the rules and regulations should be enough? But clearly it isn’t, and the bank is right.

Anyone fit for this top job needs to be convincing, influential and persuasive. And at this level to be able to establish a strong boardroom presence.

Though not necessarily always in the boardroom, much the same applies to the lower echelons–whether a basic compliance officer, a legal counsel, or a trainer contributing to the compliance program.

Just about anyone in an advisory or executive role needs to develop sufficient gravitas to make a lasting impression on their target audience. All need to achieve a strong impact,

Each needs to know how to communicate with passion, to persuade, to gain attention, win influence and make a lasting impression. Only by being able to produce these results can one hope to win respect and affect people throughout an organization.

In the case of compliance staff, simply quoting rules and regulations won’t cut it.

Call this ability to get through to others “personal impact” or even “charisma”, if you wish. The name hardly matters. What counts is this ability to affect others, to be open to learning how to enhance how you come across to colleagues—the target audience.

Charisma but not Larger than Life

This does not mean all those employees now filling compliance roles for example, must suddenly become extraordinarily charismatic, be larger than life, and generate an entire new reality around them.

That kind of impact is strictly for the extreme charismatics like Steve Jobs, a Bill Clinton or perhaps Richard Branson.

For rather lesser mortals it’s about the power to communicate and influence that almost anyone can possess, or with suitable help, acquire.

Charisma and ethics may not at first seem a natural double act. But anyone concerned with promoting ethics in an organization, whether at the leadership level or below, should be open to assessing, and secondly to improving their personal impact.

citi, citibankFor example, according to Citibank’s CFO, at the start of 2015 the bank planned to employ nearly 30,000 employees working on regulatory and compliance issues, [1]

Hopefully this formidable army of specialists will help the bank stay on the straight and narrow. Its compliance staffing levels have risen by a third since the end of 2011 and others banks and financial institutions have followed.

Like other banks, Citi has agreed to pay major fines. In this case a stunning $7 billion settlement with the U.S. Justice Department for mortgage-related charges. So all those extra staff had better understand how to do a whole lot more than just talk about codes, rules and legislation.

Through the strength of their personal impact they must begin to seriously affect the bank’s culture and make a real difference.

Five ways they could begin to do that would be:

  • Establish a strong personal presence
  • Understand what builds gravitas
  • Communicate with passion
  • Avoid jargon
  • Share values

Source: 1] Market Watch, 2014

Charisma and ethics: A series of 12 posts on alternate weeks, starting from September 8th at Ethical Leadership To be notified of each new post, please visit Ethical Leadership and subscribe. It’s free and you can unsubscribe any time.
Business in search of an ethical compass
Andrew Leigh will be speaking at the Ethical Society at 11 am on 27th September, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL. There’s a £3 attendance charge and all are welcome. Andrew is author of Charisma, published by Pearson, and Ethical Leadership by Kogan Page. And a director of Maynard Leigh Associates


Andrew Leigh
Andrew Leigh
ANDREW is author of Ethical Leadership, (Kogan Page 2013) and writes regularly at He believes business needs to re-discover the importance of ethics and integrity. As an expert on leadership Andrew writes regularly on ways to help managers be more effective as ethical leaders. His blog stays close to the zeitgeist with a unique perspective on many aspects of leading organisations ethically, including compliance, and engagement. Andrew is a joint founder in 1989 of Maynard Leigh Associates ( pioneers of using ideas from theatre in business. He was a hands-on practising manager for many years in the public sector, ending his time on the front line running a division with over 1000 staff. Andrew also spent several years as a business and financial journalist, including time at The Observer newspaper. He has written over 20 books on management, leadership teams and so on. Originally trained as an economist, he is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. He is available for speaking engagements, interviews, feature articles and consultancy.

CHECK FOR TICKETS / JOIN OUR WAITING LIST! It's not a virtual event. It's not a conference. It's not a seminar, a meeting, or a symposium. It's not about attracting a big crowd. It's not about making a profit, but rather about making a real difference. LEARN MORE HERE