“Leaders of leaders are a catalyst for cybersecurity governance – are you a cyber-catalyst or a discouragement?”
All my life I’ve been an agent of massive change. Along this journey I’ve made friends; I’ve made enemies; I’ve always made change in hope of fighting the good fight and the greater good (blame my ESTJ personality). Are you willing to take the risks of being a catalyst to reap the rewards of being a catalyst for change? A catalyst is a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction. Synonyms include ‘stimulation’, ‘spark’, and ‘spur‘. Are you that agent of change which impacts the rest of your management team to adopt and/or mature a cyber security governance plan?
I’ve had the joy of watching several of my children play soccer which is similar to what I’ve seen in companies attempting to move from IT operations to cyber security. When my children were young they all run around the entire field like an amorphous blob chasing after the ball, with parents all yelling at them to do this or that and ‘bravo’. At this stage their understanding of soccer is very immature but full of fun for most of the players. As my children have gotten older I’ve seen them mature in their game play: ball dribbling and passing skills increase, they understand roles and positions and how to move on a field in a dynamic situation, and so on. At this stage they develop an awareness of game strategy and advanced game play while working to mature and optimize skills they’ve been working on since day zero in soccer. As my children grew to be teenagers and college age they matured further with amazing skills and game play if they worked hard and applied themselves. With passion, focus, and sacrifice some mature from good to great. Where are you at with your cyber security governance? Just starting out, learning to work as a team, or working towards optimizing a more mature enterprise security program?
No matter where you are at in your governance of a cyber security program you’ll need a difference maker – maybe more than one! Who is that leader of leaders that moves you forward? Who can convince Bob you need an enterprise plan or Mary that you need to prioritize external SQL injection threats in web development, and so on? The catalyst understands people and technology and is able to motivate and move mountains within the structure of a team working towards maturity over time. In sharp contrast the dopey never address the need, afraid to take the risk, and the head banger screams out in frustration burning all bridges of possibilities politically.
Being a catalyst is not for the weak of heart. In my long and established career I’ve been used at times by those wishing to grind an axe, happy to have a catalyst like me come and rock their world with new technology, radical change ideas and more within a political environment to which I was unaware. In my youth I was optimistic and naive but by experience have learned to look for the heart of what motivates each person. A catalyst needs to gravitate to people who have influence, who have integrity and have passion, and with whom they can connect on some level for change. A catalyst is strategic at heart, able to zoom into the tactical but always keeping the big picture strategy in focus with every step. A catalyst is tactful but not afraid of change or the fallout that comes with being bold and strong for the greater good over time. A catalyst has to be emotionally tough and confident because those that are jealous, angry about control or change, or other negative means and motives will be hurled upon the catalyst. On the soccer field I’ve seen children rise up as a catalyst – no matter what their position – to encourage, motivate, and bring the team together for a common goal and motivation.
Leaders emerge in crisis and we all know who they are during that moment in time no matter what their title or role of influence. Are you that leader for your organization to move your cyber security program forward? Do people see you as the leader? If you’re honest with yourself does your staff look up to you to carry the banner of cyber security and the team’s concerns with upper management and other teams? Does your team feel comfortable bringing concerns to you and then knowing and trusting that you’ll champion that for them upwards and around your team or do they question, wallow in frustration, and become discouraged? What matters most to your cyber security experts and why and how can you leverage that to build passion, commitment, loyalty, and change? You’ll see change no matter what you do, but if you don’t have a catalyst you’ll lose the cyber war that is at your doorstep and inside of your networks already. The time to be a catalyst is now – champion your team and drive them to be the best that they can be with a boss they can count on to be a champion for the team’s needs and desires for cyber security for your organization.