NU Online News Service, Sept. 14, 11:02 a.m. EDT

While risk managers with traditional skills are still in the majority, a large group of risk managers—40 percent—exhibit non-traditional characteristics, and are “drivers” and “evangelists,” with more social skills and charm, according to a study based on profiling methodology.

Because of uncertain times, businesses are increasingly looking to the risk-management function to help identify critical risks and propose mitigation strategies to enable sustainable growth, according to the report, “What Makes a Great Risk Manager?” by Active Risk in Herndon, Va.

Organizations are also maturing in their approach to risk management, and risk is gaining a voice at a senior level. To support these increasing demands, the role of risk professionals is rapidly evolving, the study finds.

In mid 2011 Active Risk (formerly Strategic Thought Group) commissioned research into the personality traits of risk managers. Phase-one of the commissioned research ran for three months through mid-2011. The survey was based on the DISC profiling methodology, used to analyze and build teams. It categorizes respondents into a range of personality types with recognized characteristics.

The personality traits commonly associated with risk managers are referred to in the DISC methodology as those of the “Reactive Introvert” type, or technicians, viewed as experts with strong analytical skills, applying logic and caution when dealing with complex subjects.

Because Reactive Introverts are not usually “persuasive commentators,” however, they can lack the delivery skills required to gain acceptance or overcome resistance, according to the study.

Sixty percent of risk managers were classified as mainly Reactive Introverts, while the remaining 40 percent were classified as mainly Proactive Introverts or Proactive Extroverts.

Proactive Introverts, or “drivers” represent individuals determined to see a project brought to a successful conclusion, according to the study. Proactive Extroverts, or “evangelists,” possess more social skills and charm.

As a team working across the business, risk managers need to be aware of other personality types in different departments and adapt their style accordingly so that they can collate accurate risk information, drive the take up of a risk culture and communicate effectively, according to the survey.

The report urges senior management to be clear in what it is trying to achieve through the risk function and build an appropriate team to support this need. What worked in the past may not be appropriate as an organization’s risk maturity increases, the survey finds.

What’s more, to retain great risk managers, thought should be given to establishing a career path with appropriate training, the survey suggests. The distinct personality types involved within the risk function will have different needs and diverse career aspirations.

Traditional Reactive Introverts, or technicians, may be happy to have a long-term career in the discipline with risk-related professional training. To make them more effective in their communication with the rest of the organization, presentation skills training courses and coaching may be required.

It is unlikely that Proactive Introverts (drivers) and Proactive Extroverts (evangelists) will be satisfied with training solely focused on the risk discipline, however. They may see the risk function as providing a career stepping-stone, due to its interactions across the whole business and exposure to senior management, according to the study.

To participate in additional phases of the survey, risk managers can visit the Active Risk website.