So far we have discussed Engagement and Productivity, the first two pillars of an EPICC high performance team. Let’s continue exploring how to create an EPICC high performance security team, and look at the third pillar, Integrity. Integrity is the glue that holds an engaged and productive team together.
My two favorites definitions of integrity are doing the right thing even when no one is looking and doing what you say you will do long after the feeling you said it with has passed. That last one is what happens when, for example, you ask your friend to help you move and they say, “Sure anything to help…” but then the day comes to help you the last thing they want to do is move boxes and furniture. The person with integrity does it anyway because they said they would.
When members of a team have a what’s in it for me attitude, i.e. a lack of integrity, the team does not get very far. When it comes specifically to a security team, that is downright dangerous. In the world of cyber security, the team has to work well together if you want to stay ahead of the adversary. And if you don’t think you have any adversaries, remember that mistakes and errors internally can cause just as much damage to your organization. Your security team is on the front lines to prevent this and catch the errors or mistakes before they become costly or irreversible.
Your role in ensuring a team with integrity is to create an environment that establishes and supports integrity, and you do this by building a strong community. We have all seen what is possible when communities come together, whether after a natural disaster like a tornado, hurricane, or fire; or after a terrorist attack or violent incident. We have seen what is possible when neighbors help neighbors and the sense of community is strong. We have also seen the flip side with riots and looting that occur when a community is not strong and has a weak sense of integrity among its neighbors.
A community for your team means that everyone works together and no one is thinking what’s in it for me. When one member has a problem it is everyone’s problem, and that means the personal stuff gets addressed too. Because when someone is having trouble at home or outside of work it affects him or her at work. When they can come to work and know that it is safe to discuss with you or the team their focus will improve and so will their productivity.
No one wants to come to work and feel alone or worse suffer in silence, but people need to know it’s safe to share the personal stuff and the work stuff without fear of retribution, judgment, or scorn. You have to build this environment, set the rules of engagement, and make sure everyone knows where, when, and how to address the personal stuff and what will and won’t be tolerated, then lead by example.
Think about those communities where neighbors help neighbors and people have integrity. These Communities have greater property values, good schools, safe streets, and community activity. A team with high integrity members can get more accomplished, see problems ahead of time and bring projects in on time and on budget more easily. That brings value to the organization, which equates to your team having a high property value. When you provide continuing education you are offering good schools, the ability to share problems in a safe space is a safe neighborhood, and community activities means doing things outside of work from time to time. All of this helps build community and results in a high integrity and high performance team.
A low value community is rife with violence, low property values, lack of safety, and often are partly driven by fear. When this is the community of your team the violence shows up as in-fighting, backstabbing, and manipulation. When there is a lack of safety, people don’t share ideas, much less personal problems or challenges they are having with their work. All of this results in a team that does not work well together and ends up with a low property value within the organization.
Your security team is one of these two types of communities: they either have a high or low value within the organization, which will greatly depend on the type of community you have created. Start a conversation with your team about community, get to know your people, treat them with respect, and ask that they do the same. When you see something that might lead to a low value community, speak up and have the tough conversation about what needs to change. Lead by example and keep moving the team forward. Your security team is up against a lot of adversity as they protect your organization from faceless attackers, errors, and mistakes. They often only get feedback when something has gone wrong and rarely hear job well done. In order to keep them working together and in the right direction, integrity is going to be the glue that holds it all together.
If you have questions or comments about this article or the series you can reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss this topic, security teams, or security strategy. If you enjoy podcasts you can listen to C-Suite Success Radio to tap into the wisdom of other successful business people who know the path you’re traveling.