Article by Floyd Woodrow MBE
The field of cybersecurity is ever-evolving, with new threats and vulnerabilities emerging on a daily basis. As such, it is important for organizations to have effective leaders in place who can guide their teams through the constantly changing landscape.
In this article, I will explore the current concepts of great leadership in cybersecurity including resilience decision making, managing a diverse workforce, working from home, values, and building a great team.
One of the most important concepts in cybersecurity leadership is resilience decision making. This involves the ability to make quick and effective decisions in the face of uncertainty and rapidly changing circumstances, remaining in the eye of the storm. Research suggests, effective leaders in cybersecurity exhibit a number of key traits, including a willingness to take calculated risks, a focus on strategic thinking and problem-solving, and the ability to stay calm under pressure. In order to do this, leaders must have a clear Super North Star, “an unambiguous statement of intent” about where their organisation is heading and most importantly, does everyone in the organisation say the same thing?
Leaders must have a clear strategy and have thought through the contingencies they may have to enact, understanding how they and their team deal with difficult situations.
My thought process is always as follows:
• What are the facts of the situation?
• What is a creative way to look at the situation?
• What is positive about this situation?
• What are the dangers and risks?
• How do I now feel about his situation as I make the decision?
The best leaders know how to think under pressure because they have rehearsed it.
Managing a diverse workforce
The cybersecurity industry is compiled of a diverse workforce, and successful leaders in this field must know how to work with cognitive diversity. It is clear from studies that people now respond best to leaders who provide them with clear expectations and goals, offer regular feedback and recognition, and provide opportunities for professional growth and development. Leaders who can communicate effectively and provide the necessary support and resources are more likely to have a highly engaged and motivated workforce. This means the ability to adapt your communication style and realise you need to understand the position of your audience.
My personal view is that most people have always needed the above in place for a leader to be effective. That cognitive diversity is essential for organisations to fully reach their potential, and this requires leaders to be able communicate with talented people who can be challenging.
Working from Home
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work has become the norm for many organizations. Leaders in cybersecurity must be able to manage teams in a remote environment, and this requires a different set of skills and strategies.
Effective remote leaders are able to set clear expectations and guidelines, communicate frequently and transparently, and provide their teams with the necessary tools and resources to work effectively from home. Leaders who can maintain a strong team culture in a remote environment are more likely to have a highly engaged and productive workforce. However, this does not mean that people should work entirely from home. It is important to acknowledge the importance of human connection and interaction. Humans are social creatures, and we thrive on social interaction and connection. When we are isolated from others, we can experience feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety.
To create a brilliant environment, it is essential to design spaces that align with how our bodies and minds naturally function. Providing opportunities for people to move (standing desks, walking meetings). Areas that have natural light and plants alongside fresh air and areas for social interaction.
In my opinion there needs to be a balance to remote working and being in an office. A three day (office) to two day (home) ratio gives the correct balance.
Values are a key component of effective leadership. Leaders who articulate a clear set of values and principles, and who model these values in their own behaviour, are more likely to inspire their teams and earn their respect and loyalty. According to studies, compelling leaders place a high value on integrity, honesty, transparency, and accountability. However, these values should not be laminated and look good on a wall. Are the values in your organsiation explicit and does everyone model the behaviour that is expected? If not, under pressure teams that do not exhibit strong values generally do not perform well.
When did you last check the values in your organisation? Please remember the values you walk past are the values you accept.
Building a Great Team
Finally, effective leaders in cybersecurity must be able to build and maintain a great team. This involves recruiting the right people, providing them with the necessary training and resources, and fostering a strong team culture that has a high support, high challenge mentality is crucial. They prioritise team diversity and inclusion, encourage open communication and collaboration, and provide their teams with opportunities for professional growth and development.
Does this happen in your organisation. Are you growing the next generation of leader and what is your legacy going to be?
Finally, great leadership is critical to success in the constantly evolving field of cybersecurity. Leaders who exhibit resilience decision making, can work effectively with a diverse workforce, manage remote teams, prioritise values, and build a great team culture are more likely to succeed in this challenging and complex field.
As the industry continues to evolve, it is important for organisations to invest in developing their leaders and fostering a culture of strong leadership at all levels of the organization.
Floyd Woodrow is a leadership expert, entrepreneur who coaches and mentors’ senior leaders from around the world.
His success in business has come after a distinguished military career where he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his services in Iraq and an MBE for his services.
Floyd is the chairman of the Quantum Group which is a leading fintech investment incubator. Floyd was recently selected as one of the top 50 fintech entrepreneurs in the UK by the Financial Technologist Magazine.
Floyd also heads a charitable foundation called Compass for Life which delivers educational programmes in schools and colleges across the UK, assisting disadvantaged children with their educational and aspirational needs.
His book “The Warrior, the Strategist and You” is available on amazon.