My brother is a retired Army Colonel who recently received a Canadian Meritorious Service Medal for his support of Canadian troops in Afghanistan. This was naturally a source of pride for my family. When I read the medal citation, a sentence jumped out at me: “Col. Shearer’s superb leadership was vital to operational success and helped preserve Canada’s legacy in Afghanistan.” I read a lot, and I tend to parse out words that resonate with me like: “leadership, vital, operational success, preserve and legacy.” As we assess ourselves as cyber, information, software and infrastructure security professionals, we might ask if our leadership is viewed as vital to the operational success of our organizations and/or customers in helping them to preserve a sound legacy.
Suffice it to say, there are more books and training on leadership than we can easily count, and there’s a reason for that. Perfecting leadership is elusive because we never arrive at being the perfect leader. As we begin the new year, it’s a great time for introspection and to remind ourselves that we’re all students of life when it comes to leadership. In our profession, the leader must be a strong communicator. They must be able to assess technical talent and establish a vision for a pragmatic and programmatic approach to establishing security as a value-add to business and mission delivery. Leaders in our profession need to be able to communicate with business line leaders, the C-suite and the Board of Directors to establish a collaborative approach for enterprise cyber, information, software and infrastructure security. Leaders in our profession need to master translating technobabble into terms, concepts and calls to action that resonate with key business stakeholders.
It’s a huge misconception that leadership comes from the top down. Leadership takes place at all levels of the organization. Leadership comes from the bottom up, the top down and the middle—in upward and downward directions. Opportunities to lead are all around us, if we’re willing to step up and engage. Leadership is both technical and business related; and those who strive to learn to bridge this gap are incredibly valuable to any organization.
From my vantage point as the CEO of (ISC)², I can tell you that the members I meet around the world never cease to amaze me regarding their work ethic and commitment to our international cause. I encourage you to consider recognizing and celebrating these successes through the (ISC)2 Information Security Leadership Awards program. As we step into 2016, let’s recommit ourselves to constantly strive to be vital to the operational success of our respective organizations in order to preserve a legacy we can all be proud of. Toward this end, let’s all stay the course to inspire a safe and secure cyber world in 2016 and beyond. In the spirit of Star Wars, may the force be with you.
-David Shearer, CEO, (ISC)²