Top business books for CCOs

Donna Boehme – ComplianceX – December 7, 2015


From time-to-time, my network refers to me for mentoring folks who are brand new to the CCO job and I used to always ask the same question: ”What have you done to prepare for the role?” At a minimum I hope I hear:

  • Studied the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and commentary, including Joe Murphy’s recent column. (check ✓)
  • If transitioning from another discipline, attended the preconference session Joe and I developed a few years ago for the SCCE “New Mandate, New Mindset.” (check ✓)
  • Attended a full compliance industry conference (ECOA, Compliance Week or SCCE) and all networking events. (check ✓)

But these days I also ask: “What’s on your bookshelf?”

It’s not that I’m a business book junkie, but I do find that there are some universally sound principles of managing one’s professional life that are foundational to anyone in the complex and challenging role of CCO.  In fact, when I sat in the CCO chair myself, my leadership teams noticed that I refer to these principles so often in my work that it was easier for them just to read the books than to have to figure out what the heck I was talking about.

So that we are all on the same page, dear #EthiTweeps, here are my favorite basic business books for CCOs:

The_7_Habits_of_Highly_Effective_PeopleSeven Habits of Highly Effective People

If you are in my thought circle, you know that I am a huge fan of the work of Dr. Stephen Covey, who I was fortunate enough to meet for lunch in London before his untimely death from a bicycle accident a few years ago. His “Begin with the End in Mind” mantra is practically tailor-made for busy, overworked compliance professionals, as I wrote about here.

Tipping-PointThe Tipping Point

As we are all, to some degree, in the business of “change management” within organizations, Gladwell’s Tipping Point gives those in our field a framework to analyze the progress of our work. I even believe that we have reached the “tipping point” in the rise of the CCO to independent member of the C-suite, the rise of Compliance 2.0 and the death of the flawed Compliance 1.0 model.

Getting to Yes

51dTCidubqLThe enormous change management challenge and multidisciplinary nature of the compliance program creates a world where the CCO and their teams are in constant negotiation and problem solving with their counterparts in the organization. As Roy Snell says (and knows), CCOs need to learn to say “Yes” more often. But wait! – not at the expense of the integrity of their compliance program! Every CCO could benefit from taking a course with the Harvard Negotiation Project, or, at a minimum, reading Fisher and Ury’s award-winning Getting to Yes, in particular, “Dealing With Difficult People.” Very CCO-worthy.

who moved my cheeseWho Moved My Cheese?

A short and quick read chock full of meaning for CCOs, informing them on (i) the behavior of others in the organization and their reaction to new requirements of the compliance program, and (ii) their own ability to anticipate and address changes and challenges to the discharge of the CCO mandate.

Built_to_Last_(book)Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

I’ll read anything by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras! CCO’s reading their “Built to Last” will find themselves nodding in agreement and appreciating the research that will enrich their understanding of the role of a common vision, values and culture of accountability and integrity. 


What have I missed EthiTweeps? Is there another basic business book you swear by, that you view as key to your success? If so, write me and I will update this column! After all, it is now a Compliance 2.0 world, and the world is your oyster!! Go forth and prosper!

(This article originally appeared on ComplianceX)

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