3 Benefits of Developing Emotional Intelligence as an Enterprise Risk Practitioner


In implementing enterprise risk management in your organisation, people will be your most important resource. It doesn’t matter whether you are seeking to establish or support enterprise risk management in your organisation, making strategic decisions for your company, or managing the talent.  Establishing a good network of working relationships is essential to your success as a risk practitioner, and developing your emotional intelligence is what will enable you to influence top decisions and culture in your organisation – without using overly aggressive, fear-based tactics.

Emotional intelligence is more than just being a decent human being (though some have trouble with that, too). It is the ability to understand emotions, both yours and others’, so that you can manage your behaviour and have healthy connections with others. Some are predisposed to having more emotional intelligence than others. However, it is a set of skills that can be developed and improved upon to the benefit of your career growth as well as your job effectiveness.

Improve Communication and Collaboration

Empathy and understanding others’ points of view are important factors to emotional intelligence. Actively seeing things from another’s perspective doesn’t necessarily mean you will agree with them, but it does aid in identifying their assumptions, objectives, and needs. Considering diversity – whether in opinion, personality, expertise, or background – can help you to meet the other person halfway.

A risk manager often has to communicate or collaborate with a variety of people and departments, from the Board and senior management, to those on the ground. Each will have their own sets of responsibilities, and identifying what those interests are helps in adjusting how you communicate your ideas, whether you’re in a group meeting or trying to get a decision signed off. On the flip side, take heed that you don’t use your emotional intelligence to manipulate or exploit.

Managing an ever-changing set of risks requires a constant consolidation of information from a variety of sources.  By being more cognizant of different perspectives, you can also be a few steps ahead of the game through being able to look at certain issues from every angle.

Develop Relationships and Practice Effective Leadership

Risk management denotes a certain level of responsibility and a requirement for strategic leadership. And to lead effectively requires one to build amicable working relationships with others in order to foster trust and rapport over the long-term. This is crucial to be able to wield authority and have support from the relevant decision-makers, stakeholders, and operational team members. No matter how well-laid your plans and processes, they will not be optimally carried out without enterprise-wide support.  Bulldozing your way through your professional life might achieve objectives in the short-term, but in the long-term it will lead to lower productivity and possibly greater resistance to your future plans if you find yourself alienated and disliked.

Emotionally intelligent leaders are also those that can recognise that their behaviour sets a status quo for those that report to them. To be an emotionally intelligent leader requires one to not only provide helpful feedback, but also be receptive when provided feedback or criticism. Setting a standard of honest, positive communication can allow an organisation to improve where needed.

Tap into Your Potential for Growth Through Self-Awareness

Ultimately, emotional intelligence isn’t just about managing others; it’s about managing yourself. Harvard Business Review suggests that emotional intelligence can be an indicator for growth potential. Possessing emotional intelligence can mean that you are also curious, motivated, engaged, with capacity for insight. These are traits that suggest openness to change and learning—useful for a risk manager dealing with constant change.

The varied, often unpredictable nature of a risk manager’s job can be its biggest attraction, but it can also be a great challenge. Fostering a certain amount of self-awareness can allow you to navigate this challenge. To be self-aware and self-reflective is to be able to identify your values, strengths, and weaknesses, regulate your emotions when dealing with non-ideal circumstances, and communicate with others in a way that will be productive. Just as risk is dynamic, so are you. Thus, an ongoing process of self-awareness –playing to your strengths, sticking to your core principles, recognising where your blind spots are—is critical for adapting to and taking advantage of new information and circumstances.

The Takeaway

Skills, experience, and IQ levels are not guarantees for a successful career in any field of business, let alone enterprise risk management. The corporate world often prioritises ‘hard’ skills and measurable results, but at the same time, organisations are made of human beings who think, feel, change, and relate. And at the core of ERM is the recognition that an organisation is made of dynamic parts: risk factors are always changing, and all levels of an organisation have to adopt a mindset of continuous improvement in order to stay ahead. Similarly, at the level of the individual, developing emotional intelligence is vital not only for managing your relationships, but also for growing in your career and capabilities.

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