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Cyber Security Leadership

18 Jan 2021 | Peter Weldon

Leadership is crucial for the proper functioning of Security Operations Centers (SOC). This is because leaders possess the capacities and strategic preparedness to define problems and propose effective solutions. They also develop short-term and long-term vision statements to help organisations navigate more efficiently in today's dynamic business environment. In this context, it is reasonable for SOC managers to give up control to their subordinate leaders. From the perspective of subordinate leadership, the emphasis is upon using the chain of command. This means subordinate leaders are responsible for the actions of SOC managers. In this way, authority can be properly delegated with a relatively high sense of responsibility. To strengthen such subordinate leadership, it is essential to make decisions and solve problems at the lowest level in the chain of command.

In considering the implications of cybersecurity leadership, SOC managers are expected to ask relevant questions to ensure their intent is being followed. Open communication is vital to creating a tangible sense of trust among organisations' stakeholders. In improving subordinate leadership, the authority should be moved to where the information is, implying the powerful status of appropriate information. Since it is difficult for SOC managers to make operational decisions, delegating such authority to subordinate leaders is quite reasonable. Such leaders are considered effective in setting realistic and measurable standards and objectives. Subordinate leaders need to set daily objectives, contributing to their efficiency and productivity in the decision-making process.

It should be pointed out that operational leaders make operational decisions, as they are intimately familiar with the team and the organisational environment. Cybersecurity leadership can be strengthened by emphasising the distinct role of operational leaders. Manifesting teamwork and collaboration skills is essential to making optimal decisions. All team members' contributions should be taken into consideration, indicating that they all try to align their objectives with specific organisational goals. Thus, developing an open and flexible team-based culture can help stakeholders move in the right strategic direction.

Since cybersecurity is essential to contemporary organisations, it is fundamental to address cybersecurity technical and operational aspects. Nevertheless, technical leaders and security engineers should make technical decisions, as they are the most intimately familiar with the technical assets. Improving the technical infrastructure of organisations is at the core of enhanced cybersecurity. Even though mistakes can be made throughout the process of strengthening organisations' cybersecurity, stakeholders should learn from those mistakes, rather than being discouraged and frustrated. It might be easy to give up at specific periods, but this is not the solution for operational leaders who aim to improve organisational performance.

It is also essential to indicate that inexperienced individuals at organisations are most likely to make poor decisions. This means that adequate decision-making skills are interrelated with substantial work experience. As a result of individuals' exposure to various organisational situations, they can improve their knowledge of specific organisational aspects and processes. Thus, it is crucial to understand that individuals should not be punished for making irrelevant decisions, primarily when proper guidance was not provided to them. Making mistakes is usually associated with a lack of effective operational experience.

In case purposeful bad decision making or someone knew better, elements will need to be addressed at different levels of the organisation. Influential operational leaders demonstrate their ability to recognise high-performing employees and those who fail to invest their organisation's efforts. By making such differentiation between high performers and low performers at organisations, operational leaders voice their concerns about individuals' roles, responsibilities, and employees' determination to act responsibly. To make the right decisions, stakeholders need to access extensive information on various organisational issues and processes. This once again confirms the idea that information is power in the hands of organisations' stakeholders.

Strong cybersecurity leadership is not only about identifying technical threats and addressing them accordingly, but also about setting proper organisational standards and values. This requires the presence of a solid vision and determination to act at a moment's notice in the sense of being ready to make decisions on an urgent basis. Operational leaders work effectively under pressure, indicating that their ability to make relevant decisions will not be affected by particular deadlines and expectations. Some leaders admit that such deadlines make it convenient for them to stay more focused and organised on accomplishing specific organisational tasks.

An organisational culture of cybersecurity implies properly arranged activities, as team members recognise the importance of clarifying all aspects of work processes. To decrease the spontaneous mistakes being made in the organisational context, team members should coordinate their actions and become more united in the sense of thinking from the perspective of setting shared goals. This helps establish a culture of collaboration and increased trust, which can support cybersecurity leadership goals.

Having a solid organisational culture of collaboration, teamwork, and trust means operational leaders directly oppose any instances of disloyalty and dishonesty. Undoubtedly, disloyal and dishonest team members can sabotage any efforts to improve optimal cybersecurity objectives. Thus, operational leaders always make sure to promote a culture of loyalty and honesty at all organisational levels. Loyal team members are committed to improving organisational performance, enhancing the overall structure of cybersecurity leadership.

As noted, communication is crucial to helping operational leaders achieve their strategic objectives. Leaders should be creative in utilising different means of communication. For instance, they could organise morning or afternoon meetings with employees in which they can discuss a wide range of topics about employee relations, cybersecurity, and leadership behaviors. It is essential to have clarity in communication, enabling team members to interact better with one another. Operational leaders could utilise social media platforms to facilitate communication and bring it to a new level of influence and share common organisational objectives.

It is also vital for operational leaders to make sure the junior staff is provided with numerous opportunities to speak and share their concerns over different organisational issues. In this way, there could be a sufficient balance between leaders' efforts and the junior staff's awareness to enable a more meaningful interaction. This shows operational leaders' openness to accepting the junior staff's views and recognising employees' contributions to improving the organisational decision-making process. When team members feel adequately appreciated and valued for their organisation's efforts, they are most likely to invest their energy and resources in implies. Staff's views lead to greater employee involvement in the organisation. Thereby their productivity and efficiency can increase over time.

Furthermore, security engineers and Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) engineers are expected to collaborate in making important decisions related to maintaining a high level of cybersecurity within organisations. These engineers also cooperate with analysts in improving their decision-making capacity and problem-solving skills. Cybersecurity leadership should be properly organised to decrease the occurrence of conflicts of interest. Due to the lack of experience junior analysts tend to be more intimidated by senior analysts or engineers. Regardless of this fact, operational leaders should find a way to increase trust and cooperation among individuals from different units and departments.

Individuals should be constantly reminded that they should not be afraid of not knowing something, as security is a big field. They should be open to learning and experimenting with new ideas in the security domain, especially when it comes to ensuring a high cybersecurity level. Influential operational leaders recognise the limitations in the knowledge that team members usually have. Therefore, such leaders aim to help team members find their place in the organisation. Individuals are reminded to ask relevant questions and practice finding appropriate solutions.

In terms of information, it should be noted that cybersecurity leadership cannot share all of that information with the staff. This is because some of the information is sensitive and should be kept private. However, it should be pointed out that the staff needs to be well-informed to improve their decision-making capacity. It is the responsibility of operational leaders to teach their staff how to utilise certain information to the best of their abilities. For example, individuals should be guided how to distinguish important from irrelevant information. In this way, employees can significantly improve their critical thinking and analytical skills, which are crucial to making good decisions.

It has been indicated that cybersecurity leadership cannot share everything with the staff. This point is similar to the idea of information discussed above. However, the emphasis on sharing less information is associated with the belief that keeping secrets usually leads to undesirable outcomes. Individuals should be as open as possible to bring communication to various important topics that could better protect organisations' cyber infrastructure. By understanding what to share with the staff, operational leaders tend to become more consistent with applying specific organisational principles and values. Such values are described as tolerance, respect, openness, flexibility, and transparency. Incorporating these values into the organisational culture helps operational leaders achieve the synchrony needed for achieving specific cybersecurity objectives.

Cybersecurity leadership is committed to establishing an organisational culture with a high level of predictability and stability. In this way, team members can feel secure and confident. By recognising the importance of predictability, individuals can become more efficient in presenting various solutions to cybersecurity problems in organisations. Organisational stability also implies sufficient resilience and agility illustrated in the actions of the entire team. Such team members tend to be adequately trusted for their competence and professionalism in making relevant decisions. The guiding role of operational leaders is significant in enabling a culture dominated by predictable scenarios. As a result, there would be fewer surprises and hindrances that might disrupt everyday organisational activities.

It is important to note that cybersecurity leaders should be willing to accept better ideas from subordinates. In other words, these leaders should not underestimate subordinates' potential in presenting specific solutions or making decisions. Such leaders should be open to embracing others' ideas, especially when these ideas introduce meaningful points. Cybersecurity leaders are most likely to recognise those subordinates' potential who are ready to demonstrate a high level of creativity and innovation. The principles of creativity and innovation can provide a valuable source of competitive advantage for contemporary organisations.

Cybersecurity leaders clearly understand that they are ultimately in charge and responsible for everything within the organisation. They set the precise models and strategies that should be followed by others. In case there is a disagreement with the ideas proposed by operational leaders, any misconception should be properly clarified through frequent communication. Even though cybersecurity leaders are flexible and open to accepting others' ideas, they are in charge of different projects, implying that their authority should be adequately respected. Nevertheless, it is vital to create an organisational culture of mutual respect and collaboration to facilitate particular outcomes.

Since teamwork skills are highly valued in today's organisations, cybersecurity leaders understand that success belongs to their staff. Any achievement should be celebrated at the organisation, encouraging individuals to present more innovative and creative ideas in the cybersecurity domain. Even though these leaders have the authority to make the final decisions and adjustments in security-related situations, they want to make team members partners in the ongoing change process. As a result, there could be less resistance to change on behalf of team members. The staff could increase their confidence in leaders by communicating their concerns and expectations alike.

Effective cybersecurity leadership starts with initiatives to empower the staff. These leaders should be as creative as possible in presenting different employee empowerment options. This shows genuine care for employees who need to be trained to become emotionally intelligent in today's dynamic workplace. Good cybersecurity leaders understand that having emotional intelligence skills is vital to strengthening team members' character and improving their agility. In turn, these individuals tend to become more efficient in making decisions independently from their leaders. Yet it should be noted that the decision-making process should be shared to achieve the intended results.

Even though cybersecurity leaders are committed to increasing cybersecurity, failures may occur at any point. However, all failures belong to leadership as they lead their team to complete particular projects. In the context of cybersecurity, these leaders set the rules and principles to be followed. This implies a high level of personal responsibility assumed by cybersecurity leaders. In other words, potential failures are always contributed to leaders, as they are expected to be extensively prepared to act strategically in any situation. As the cybersecurity domain is continuously evolving, operational leaders' roles and responsibilities may need to be constantly updated to attain cybersecurity objectives.

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