Sam SpenceSam Spence died last week. His was not a name that many folks were aware of generally and even in the sports world where he made his greatest mark. Yet he was a prime mover in the explosion of growth by the National Football League (NFL) from the 1960s up to today. What was his role in this? Spence was the composer for the soundtracks to NFL Films. Together with the pioneer and founder of NFL Films, Ed Sabol, his 35-time Emmy decorated son, Steve Sabol, and narrator John Facenda, a/k/a “the Voice of God”, they formed the core of the NFL Films team who worked to put together the story of professional football in America.

As Bruce Weber wrote in his New York Times (NYT) obituary, “Spence and his music helped fashion an identity for the game that made it seem more dramatic and inspiring.” Why was Spence so important to me? It was not the driving beats of today that he selected for his soundtracks but the wide variety of symphonic tunes that were both dramatic and inspiring. I watched NFL Films mostly in the 1970s and years later when I became a symphony aficionado I recognized music I had first heard in the NFL Films presentations. The one that struck me the most was Dvorak’s New World Symphony, which I first heard courtesy of Sam Spence.

The original quartet who started NFL Films is now in the great beyond. I am sure they are all creating some great films and videos for us all.

While Spence’s contributions to NFL Films were not as well known as the others mentioned above, they were a part of the fabric, DNA and what made the presentations so powerful. Indeed his music was so intertwined with the Films it became seamless with the visual presentations. I found this an interesting way to consider the difference in management and leadership.

In the NYT Corner Office section, Adam Bryant interviewed Walt Bettinger, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Charles Schwab Corporation, for an article entitled “You’ve Got to Open Up to Move Up”. In this article Bettinger talked about an idea rarely considered by a Chief Compliance Officer (CCO), which is the difference in leadership from management. Most CCOs are technically competent in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) or other anti-corruption law. Put another way, they are technically competent at the management of a best practices compliance program. Yet they struggle not only to be seen as leaders but also to engage in leadership rather than simply managing.

Bettinger draws a sharp distinction between the two roles. He states the following: “There’s a contractual relationship with your manager. And you can do your job and fulfill the terms of that contract and never really have your heart in it.” He contrasted this with leadership, which he view as “something completely different.” He went on to note, “With leadership, you make a decision every day about whether you choose to follow someone. And you make it in your heart, not your head. The ability to inspire followership is so different than management, and it requires transparency, authenticity, vulnerability and all things that are completely unnatural to you when you are trying to build and achieve and accomplish.” Which does your employee base see you as, in your role as CCO?

As a perquisite for leadership, as opposed management, Bettinger had some interesting thoughts. He said that to be a leader, you have to open up. Moreover, you have to be vulnerable and be ready to share with people. Finally he indicated, “it was more important than anything to share with people the great failures in my life as opposed to the successes.” In other words, you have to get people to trust you.

Channeling his inner Dale Carnegie, Bettinger also spoke about the importance of learning about everyone. He gave a great example of a final exam he took in his final year of college, in a business strategies class. He was trying to maintain a 4.0 grade average and dutifully prepare for the final exam. When he got the test paper, it had one question, “What was the name of the lady who cleans this building?” Of course, Bettinger had no idea and failed the exam. It may seem harsh but it taught him a life-long lesson to know the name of that person in every position he has held since that time. Yet another difference between management and leadership.

As a final note about the difference between management and leadership, Bettinger has what can only be called an unorthodox approach regarding his approach to hiring. He said that one of the things to do is meet a candidate over breakfast. However, he gets there early and will “pull the manager of the restaurant aside, and say, “I want you to mess up the order of the person who’s going to be joining me. It’ll be O.K., and I’ll give a good tip, but mess up their order.”

He does this because he wants to see how the candidate will respond to that simple adversity. He wants to know if they will become upset, frustrated or simply deal with it in the course of the breakfast. Bettinger believes, “It’s just another way to get a look inside their heart rather than their head” because “We’re all going to make mistakes. The question is how are we going to recover when we make them, and are we going to be respectful to others when they make them?”

As a CCO you will be called on for several different roles in an organization. Certainly technical competence as a subject matter expert (SME) in your compliance program is a minimum. Yet never forget that the consumers of compliance are the company employees. The more leadership you show them, using some of the technics subscribed to by Bettinger, can be very useful to help foster that position for you going forward.

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© Thomas R. Fox, 2016