Security Leaders and Managers Top Two Challenges in 2021: Culture and Leadership

Security Leaders and Managers Top Two Challenges in 2021: Culture and Leadership

David Lammert I Pinnacle Placements December 2020


It is a safe bet that everyone you know is eager to move forward from 2020 and make 2021 a better year personally and professionally. The two factors that will do the most to ensure this happens for security management professionals are leadership and culture. This applies to leaders in roles from Chief Security Officers and Information & Cybersecurity positions to security directors, team leaders and security services/solutions providers leaders and management.


Any security professional who leads and manages a team of any size provides leadership and sets the culture. Strong leadership paired with a pronounced culture provides the foundation that will set the standard of expected performance.


Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can focus on one and the other will take care of itself. No, the two are woven together tightly. Leadership establishes the overall tone and the pace, and leadership that fails to do so can expect uneven performance and a lack of sync. Addressing leadership gaps and a dedicated effort to improve the culture in 2021 should be at the top of the priority list for security management and leadership intent on making the coming year their best.


Plug Leadership Gaps

Leadership gaps are like gaps in a fence or hedge. Sure, 99% of the enclosure is doing its job, but the 1% gap can lead to a breakdown. Pets could get out, or intruders could get in, and they all have a way of finding those gaps and exploiting them. In the same manner, people exploit leadership gaps, mostly to advance an agenda they perceive will benefit them.


The ability to fill leadership gaps depends heavily on leadership development. Potential leaders should be identified long before they’re needed to fill a leadership role, during this period, leadership development and related programs can be designed to identify and build the skills they will need to succeed. Gaps in leadership can also occur unexpectedly, not having to react hastily to fill a leadership position is like having the tools and materials ready to properly fix the gap in a fence: panic does not ensue, the gap is fixed properly and timely. Now, you can move forward with confidence and not a distraction.


Maintaining Dynamic Culture

A Deloitte study found that both executives and employees (94% of executives and 88% of employees) consider corporate culture to be important to business success. And no one is surprised that the companies who routinely make the “Best Place to Work” rankings are typically regarded as being among the most successful. A strong, positive culture makes recruiting all levels of employees easier, increasing employee loyalty and engagement, promote better collaboration, drives better performance, and keeps morale levels up.


When people look forward to coming to work, they’re likely to give their best efforts to keep it that way.


Improving the culture of the security function or security services provider isn’t a one-time project, instead, it must be tended to regularly, like a garden. Problems with culture don’t necessarily indicate that it’s time to scrap the current culture and start over, yet leaders should not hesitate to ask employees what they like and don’t like and how they think it could change. Likewise, staff members should not be afraid to speak up about elements of internal culture they believe are harmful.


Leadership and Culture Are Interwoven

Excellent leadership is necessary for creating and maintaining a strong culture, and a strong culture helps ensure strong leadership. Leadership coaching can be a key to empowering leaders to take an honest look at culture and their role in it. In addition to existing technical, security, and management skill the skills that leaders develop through leadership coaching – including communication skills, delegation skills, organizational skills, and decision-making skills – are precisely the ones needed to learn all about culture as it is and to map out a plan to bring it to a higher level.


For better or worse, leadership and culture feed off each other. Bad leadership tends to reinforce bad cultural elements in a negative swirl, while good leadership tends to reinforce good cultural elements. For maximum success measured across a range of indicators, you need both ingredients, just as you need both heat and seasoning to get the maximum flavor to create a delicious meal.


With a new year right in front of us, don’t make a passing, bad-faith commitment to exploring and improving culture and leadership. Take inventory of your strong and weak points with each and make a measurable plan to improve both. You’ll not only make the workplace better for everyone, but you’ll also improve team performance and are likelier to wrap up 2021 with successful measurables.

At Pinnacle Placements we’d like to wish all of you a successful and fulfilling new year in 2021.

It has been a pleasure connecting, partnering, and working with you!

Stay Well!


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