Are you ready to improve security and earn respect for your leadership?

Most security leaders get recognized for technical talent instead of their leadership.

How about you?

Are you valued for your leadership? Do your executives consider you qualified to lead in any other part of the organization? Or are you the “security resource”… with a team?

The reality for most security leaders is a weird limbo where they have a title without much respect.

Does this mean you aren’t actually a leader?

Nope.

Here’s why: most make the jump from individual contributor to leader in our early 30s. It’s a big leap. For most, formal training and support is a decade or more behind. Couple that with the complexity of security and confusion over how to lead it. There is no job like it.

While some see this as a problem, I see this as an opportunity. 

It’s possible to improve security and prove your leadership. Actions that gets results. Consistency that gets recognized.

Leading security faces a confluence of three obstacles:

  • Pervasive leadership challenges broader than security
  • Unique complexity and nuances of leading security
  • Organizational realities stacked against change (again, broader than security)

Security only adds to the complexity organizations already face.

General leadership challenges

  • Lacking investment in leadership. Too busy to stop, assess, and invest in their leadership. If they did stop, what would they invest in? Why? How does that advance them on their journey? Where are they on their journeys?
  • Stalled journeys. Leadership is a journey. While no two paths are identical, exceptional leaders share common elements. Incomplete and missing models stunt growth and slows the journey.
  • Confusion abounds. What is leadership? Plenty of courses, books, and information dubbed “leadership.” Much of it focused on a single area. Some of it in conflict with other approaches. How do we bring this together? Especially so individuals, teams, and organizations advance.
  • Missing foundations. Most admit they struggle with value, measurement, and communication. They haven’t considered the impact of friction or studied transformation. Yet these are the building blocks of exceptional leadership and powerful communication. Without a firm grasp on these five elements, what are you building on?
  • No clear place to start. Do you focus on accountability? Maybe it’s vision. What about communication? What is the current trend? It all seems easy — until you try it. Then where do you get help? How do you map out your best next step?

The added dimension of security

No argument that security is complex, confusion, and in a state of constant evolution. That creates unique challenges for three different groups:

  • Security leaders. Currently struggling to earn respect for their leadership. Most are valued for their technical competence. Often regarded as leaders in title only. And usually because having a “security leader” is necessary.
  • Executives and boards. Concerned about security but confused by the complexity. Uncertain who to trust. They struggle to provide effective security leadership.
  • Everyone else. They know security is important – because they keep hearing it. But they don’t always see it. They get confused, frustrated, and see security as a barrier to their success.

Organizational Challenges & Friction

People know security is important. They express concern coupled with uncertainty. The confusion means it gets easy to ignore. Far better to focus on what you understand and can control. Broader than security, it means organizations struggle because:

  • Security is complex. Confusion triggers a natural tendency to avoid it. It gets easy to substitute familiarity for competence.
  • We’re busy at the expense of productive. That prevents bringing people together to build understanding. Without understanding, alignment is hard to get.
  • Decisions are elusive. Good decisions less frequent. It’s a constant struggle to get the information to make better decisions. Often, those decisions get reversed before the ink is dry. Usually by someone without the nuance and context that went into the initial decision.
  • Distorted field of views. It’s common to substitute a limited individual field of view for the full picture. We lose sight (pun intended) that our view is incomplete. Or even obstructed.
  • Friction, friction, everywhere. Too much friction. In our communication and our systems. In some cases, it’s the ‘technical debt’ we’re starting to experience. The problem is friction erodes value. It increases the cost of human connection. It stalls programs until they stall or fail.

The bottom line

  • We waste a lot of time; in the process, we create a lot of irritation and bad will
  • We struggle to invest assets and energy into efforts that create the most value
  • Instead of coming together, people are moving apart (sometimes driven apart)
  • We don’t feel heard; the corollary is that it makes it hard for us to hear others
  • We can’t get the buy-in and support we need, let alone feel aligned on what is best for the organization

The path starts with Straight Talk

I see a future where security is a basic leadership competency. This includes the ability to translate complexity into comprehension.

It starts with Straight Talk.

The upside of straight talk is improving security while advancing your leadership. It’s proof of your ability with action that drives results.

Bringing people together and give them a voice without wasting their time. Increase confidence and get the information needed to make better decisions faster.

Getting it right is a journey. It takes an investment of time and energy.

Are you ready to invest in your leadership? To do the work and earn the recognition you deserve?

The Straight Talk Framework starts with 5 questions. Up next, I’ll explain how leaders use them to get results.

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Michael Santarcangelo
 

The founder of Security Catalyst, Michael develops exceptional leaders and powerful communicators with the security mindset for success.