Don’t investigate your boss

I’m fortunate enough to support a team of 500 Ethics & Compliance Officers (ECOs) at my organization.

Yesterday, I learned that one of them received an allegation against his boss from another employee. He did the right thing and immediately contacted a more senior ECO to handle the investigation. It’s never a good idea to investigate your boss.

I immediately scheduled a call with that ECO, to be held later today. I want to make sure he is OK and that he knows we will protect him during and after the investigation. The job of ECO is supposed to be career-enhancing, not career-limiting. It’s a job that gives you a 360-degree view of the business, either molding you into a great utility player or helping you discover your interests and strengths for the next job. It should not force you to burn your bridges.

But the nature of the job puts us in a tough spot. When a salesperson does her job well – and sells – she gets rewarded. When an ECO (or anyone in a control function like an attorney or a financial controller) does his job well, he may face the ire of management for “impeding business.”

The role of an ethical leader is to seek always to do things the right way. They should thus be grateful for the work of ECOs and others in control functions.

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