As a cybersecurity leader, your success is determined by your ability to improve the security of your organization’s assets and stakeholders. No doubt this is a challenging endeavor. The landscape is constantly changing, variables are increasingly complex, and threat actors need only to win one attack while you need to successfully defend against every single one. Your success will be dependent upon hardware, software, and people at the perimeter of the company and overall ecosystem, but the foundation of your success is a positive mindset.
Nothing is ever achieved without first a belief that it can be done. That’s a mindset. Mindset is an attitude that colors our view of the world and what’s possible in—and beyond—it. Mindset is the initiating force behind NASA’s goal (50 years ago) to land humans on the moon. Similarly, mindset is the initiating force anyone leverages to build something new, reengineer something to be better, or to bring about a change in things. Regardless of whether that change is incremental and evolutionary or transformational and revolutionary, achieving it starts with a positive mindset. So, too, is the case when it comes to securing your organization’s most important assets and stakeholders.
Mindset Is Contagious
Our mindset initiates a sense of possibility from which our behaviors and actions follow. Therefore, our mindset serves as the foundation of our results. Those most successful leaders have an unwaveringly positive mindset about who they are and the impact they’ll have on those around them.
While all this may seem rather obvious, there’s something else important about our mindset: it has a multiplying effect on those around us. It scales and reaches beyond oneself. The greatest leaders know the power of mindset. This remarkable power is one reason Colin Powell, arguably one of the greatest leaders in U.S. military history, who retired as a four-star army general, served as secretary of state, led the military of the United States while serving as the chairman of the joint chiefs, and authored the book It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership, often shares this critical piece of leadership advice: “Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.” Now, to be sure, the opposite is also true. It’s because of this fact that we must keep our mindset in check; positive amid chaos and uncertainty, and sometimes, fear.
Whether negative or positive, your mindset multiplies as it affects those around you. It’s for this reason that Ashley Ferguson, the global director of strategy, governance, risk, and compliance at SecureWorks, coaches her employees and believes in the need for leaders to “be positive, be open, be truthful, and stay optimistic.” She emphasizes this because she knows that attitude is contagious, especially if you’re in a leadership role.
If you’re wondering if you’re a leader, know that we’re all leaders some of the time and followers all of the time. So yes, you’re a leader, and therefore your attitude is quite important.
Regardless of role, title, or rank, make the choice to be positive. Have an “it can be done” attitude, which just happens to be another piece of leadership advice from Colin Powell. This positivity is necessary because the root cause of your results is attitude, and the foundation of your success is a positive mindset.
Postscript on Mindset
Today's threat environment is worse than ever. Advanced actors with deep pockets are constantly shifting their points of attack on new-to-market assets, such as the cloud. The correlation between the pace of innovation and the pace of change as it relates to the threat landscape makes being proactive all the more important. And if that weren't enough to try to take on, today's security professionals also face internal barriers to achieving their goals. People-training tops the list, but the number of hurdles and potential breeches in any given security professional's future are too many to count.
Check out this video and hear leading industry professionals speak about their top concerns. From front page newsworthy briefs to ensuring security efforts are aligned with the company's greatest risk exposures, the modern security professional's concerns are voluminous. Think about it. What keeps you up at night? Regardless of any answer, addressing what keeps you up at night starts with a positive mindset.
Dr. Tim Rahschulte is the CEO of the Professional Development Academy and chief architect of the ICMA Cybersecurity Leadership Academy program. He is the coauthor of My Best Advice: Proven Rules For Effective Leadership.