A recent LGB Associates report (PDF link) Advancing CSR Without a Corporate Responsibility Officer asks: Do we really need a Corporate Responsibility Officer (CRO)?
The report summarizes the thoughts of the Thought Leader Forum, "a group of senior corporate social responsibility professionals organized by the LBG Research Institute" on the topic.
It also highlights what they consider the essentials for success in a corporate citizenship leader:
- Be an excellent communicator. Corporate citizenship professionals have to be able to talk to the Board of Directors, the executive team, their peers in other areas of the company, employees at all levels, regulators, elected officials, community and nonprofit leaders—all stakeholders—in appropriate language with a consistent message. That requires the ability to understand the concerns and viewpoints of the different stakeholders and tailor the corporate message accordingly.
- Be a charismatic, persuasive figure in the corporation. Besides communicating a message, CC practitioners are often called upon to gain cooperation from stakeholders (that includes the CEO!) for important programs to be implemented. That takes more than excellent communication skills. Great leaders exude confidence without arrogance and are able to persuade reluctant stakeholders by educating them and listening to their concerns.
- Be able to deal with complex situations. Because there are so many stakeholders in a corporation, the leader will often find him- or herself in situations that are difficult or politically charged. Great leaders are able to see different points of view, think on their feet, defuse the landmines and gain cooperation.
- Be comfortable in the for-profit and nonprofit environments. An understanding of nonprofits—preferably experience in them—is critical to be able to speak their language and work with them effectively.
- Understand the business and current issues in your industry and the world. In order to understand different internal stakeholders’ points-of-view, you have to really understand the business, what drives revenue, what the risks are, the issues in the industry and world trends and events that impact your industry. Otherwise, you cannot speak the language of the executives and communicate with them effectively. You cannot design a strategic citizenship program that serves your company without knowing what makes the business tick.
- Understand your communities, their issues and needs. Like with the business, if you do not know what is happening in your communities you cannot be an effective, responsible citizen of those communities.
Enjoy the read! Let us know if you have any thoughts to add on the topic.