Need help with online training?  There’s a company for that.  How about understanding trade sanctions in Iran?  A law firm is waiting for you.  Seeking ISO 37001 anti-bribery program certification?  Consultants, auditors and certification bodies are ready for you.

Everywhere you turn there are solutions to help your compliance and ethics program.  Great vendors, lawyers, consultants and temporary staff exist to help you to make your program better.  It almost makes you think that with enough budget, you could sit on a beach directing the program with minimal effort while the outside help takes over. 

But there’s a catch.  A CEO friend of mine told me he was frustrated because he was trying to get used to his new gym routine.  He said, “I have someone to dry clean my laundry, clean my house, answer my phone and schedule my travel.  But I can’t hire someone to do my push-ups for me.” 

There are some things you simply can’t outsource.  Here are three of them: 

1.     Relationship Building

No one can get stakeholder buy-in for your program more effectively than you can, and this takes relationships.  Relating to and gaining the confidence of your company’s managers, C-suite or Board cannot be done for you by another.  It is up to you to make the time and find a way to build relationship with these key leaders.

2.     Delivering the Hard Decisions

While good advisors and consultants can help you plan your direction or give you information on the law, it is your job to tell the business what needs to be done with this information and how it will be implemented.  Understanding trade sanctions is one thing; figuring out how to allow the business to run while avoiding trade sanctions issues is another.  Your job is to take the knowledge of the consultant or lawyer and to tell the business how it will be applied or implemented within your program.

3.     Taking Credit

Being a compliance officer isn’t easy, even with terrific advisors.  When you’ve done a good job, accept the compliments and praise.  Sometimes our instinct is to say, “Our lawyers did a superb job on this.”  And that may be true, but YOU had to do the work internally. 

Using consultants and advisors can make you stronger and more knowledgeable, but remember- only you can do your push-ups.