Risk Leadership Through COVID-19.

At our recent virtual event, Victoria Whitaker and Liam O’Neill from Deloitte’s Ethics and Risk Culture practice spoke about the importance of strengthening the organisation’s risk culture during COVID-19 and the critical role of leadership.

Speaking to a group of HR leaders, Victoria and Liam shared insights about the changing risk profile for organisations and people. This included new and emerging risks, disruptions to risk practices and control frameworks, and the challenge of managing risk with reduced visibility. They discussed the psychology and neuroscience of risk-based decision-making and the implications of uncertainty and stress caused by the pandemic.

Victoria and Liam shared practical strategies and ideas for leading through uncertainty, enabling people to reduce further loss or harm, and feel confident taking appropriate risks to drive recovery. They shared the evidence-based Deloitte Risk Leadership model as a guide, and provided COVID-related examples for each dimension, which includes:

  • Living – having the knowledge and skills to manage risks, and demonstrating commitment to risk management by investing their time in the right activities. They role model behaviour which aligns to the values and principles of the organisation and prioritise these over personal gain.
  • Deciding – seeking information and expertise from others to help make fast and informed decisions which balance the interests of different stakeholders and types of risk. They demonstrate a willingness to change their decisions down the track when new information warrants change.
  • Communicating – seeking out and sharing new insights throughout their team and organisation and keeping the right people informed and involved. They are open and honest about current issues, and also challenge others and themselves to broaden their thinking and consider new perspectives.
  • Supporting – ensuring the team has the right resources and support to manage the risks they are exposed to and to make effective decisions. They provide the team with a safe environment to raise concerns, and ensure that they are addressed and the outcomes fed back to support continuous team learning.
  • Embedding – holding themselves and others to the same high standards and recognising that performance is more than the outcome. They communicate the link to broader strategy and ensure processes are completed by the right person and to the right standard.

The session generated great discussion among participants, who all shared their own examples of good risk leadership being demonstrated through the pandemic. It was inspiring to hear so many examples we could learn from across the group as we strengthen the way risk is managed and harnessed, to drive recovery and embed strong risk mindsets and behaviours in the process.