Why strong governance and risk management skills are so critical for leaders

Liz McCoy

Good governance is core to performance.

Good governance and risk management practice provides a body of knowledge for any leader to ensure that the organisation is complying and striving for excellence.

For experienced leaders, this body of knowledge provides a high level of accountability. For new or emerging leaders, good governance and risk management ensures sustainable growth. 

Unique governance and risk management challenges in not-for-profits

Considering my experience in the NFP sector specifically, the biggest challenge is getting the right people for governance and risk management roles. You need someone who is committed in terms of:

  • their knowledge and time
  • adhering to best practice
  • active participation — striving for excellence in governance within the NFP sector.

Good governance is as valid for the NFP sector as any other sector. Some people see NFP board and governance roles as an opportunity to tick the box to start out and build their governance experience.  You shouldn’t join to just tick a box. This sector is so unique, and if you want to be involved, you need to contribute and be focused on community development and giving back.

It’s important that you have more than just passion.

Technology is changing the governance and risk management landscape

Technology has changed the landscape in three main ways:

  • Capability to govern: Access to documentation, access to people (technology has brought boards together and allowed us to widen the geography of members)
  • Pace of change and culture: Change is a fact of life. But it’s challenging. The pace of change needs to be supported and embraced. It’s labour and funding-intensive, so it needs to be modelled effectively with room to adapt as change progresses.
  • Cyber and data security: There is more risk than ever before. And this, in turn, has stretched training and resources. We need to ensure that we have the cyber risk skillset embedded in the organisation and ensure that we’re responsive to ongoing change.

My learnings for emerging governance and risk professionals

My biggest challenge was learning to shift from the traditional model of goal, ambition and task-orientated thinking to a more collaborative and nurturing mindset.

We long to belong, contribute and be valued. And we need to strike a balance as leaders between the goal and the value i.e. balancing human vs output.

We tend to have a preferred thinking style — whether it’s goal or value-driven. But we can train our brains to be more balanced by strengthening the opposite thinking style.


Develop your governance and risk management capabilities

Our Certificates offer practical knowledge and skills in governance and risk management that you can readily apply in your workplace.  

Each Certificate is designed and facilitated by leading experts in the field of governance and risk management. Be confident in your ability to deliver governance and risk management best practice for your organisation.

Alternatively, we can send the experts to you with our in-house training programs.

Get deeper insights with postgraduate study

Our postgraduate courses are unrivalled in Australia for the depth of insights and level of practical application they provide. Get the specialist skills and knowledge you need to excel in your governance and risk management responsibilities.

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