Communication – The 5th Pillar of Your EPICC Cybersecurity Team

Communication – The 5th Pillar of Your EPICC Cybersecurity Team 150 150 Sharon Smith

Here we are, the last and final article in the series on creating an EPICC High Performance Cybersecurity team. If you have been with me from the start of this series you know the first four pillars are Engagement, Productivity, Integrity, and Collaboration. The fifth and final pilar we are going to talk about is Communication.

You’ve heard it before “you were born with two ears and one mouth for a reason: to listen twice as much as you speak,” but how often do we follow that rule? Too often, and I’m guilty of this too, we are thinking about what we are going to say next in response to what we are being told, rather than listening to understand. Which means, if we are not listening we are not communicating completely or effectively.

Communication is an open and safe exchange of information, ideas, and opinions; the good, the bad, and the ugly. When something is not going right, communication is critical. You may think this sounds a lot like collaboration that we talked about in the last article, and they do go hand in hand, but you cannot get to collaboration without communication.

Communication has to do with how we say what needs to be said, when we say it, and whether we are truly listening. This is incredibly important for your cybersecurity team. If they are not truly communicating and listening, think of what could get missed in your mission to protect your organization.

Respectful communication is key and you must lead by example. Clearly discuss what respectful communication looks and sounds like and what will and won’t be tolerated and then do what you are telling others to do. Some examples of respectful communication includes being fully present and not typing emails or texts while someone is talking. You are not listening if you are thinking about what you are typing. Other examples include making eye contact, repeating back what you heard to show you were listening, and asking clarifying questions. These are the questions that helps ensure you truly heard and understood what the other person just said.

If you are not sure what makes up a complete list of respectful communication thinks about the things that drive you nuts when you are talking with someone. A good exercise would be to get your team together and without asking them to name names ask each person to provide examples of what they think respectful communication looks like and what they think is rude. Use this time to discuss what you want for the team, create a list together of what is acceptable and not acceptable and now as a group you have collaborated on the rules of respectful communication. Everyone now knows what will and won’t be tolerated.

Giving and receiving feedback in real time, which I discussed in motivation and feedback is another  crucial part of communication, especially as a leader. If you have ever been given critical feedback long after the incident occurred, you know how frustrating that can be: how can I fix something that happened three months ago?

Feedback means communicating with your team, individually or as a group when needed to share what you are observing that is working well and not working. The conversation on what is not working well is a crucial conversation that is often difficult to have. It’s tough to deliver bad news or share with people areas that need improvement. But the ability to do this not only makes you a stronger leader, it will garner respect when done well, and help your team be a more high performing team.

If you need help starting a conversation or figuring out how to broach a topic with someone on your team there are specialists who can help. For example, A subject matter expert on this whose articles are extremely useful is Dr. Laura Sicola, who is someone from whom you can learn a lot about communication. Similarly, if you are looking for more on how to create a high performance team, you can reach out to me at to learn more about conducting a High Performance Team Workshop.

It’s perfectly normal to need help and perfectly acceptable to ask. What is unacceptable is thinking that things can change on their own or deciding that the status quo is good enough and change isn’t necessary for you or your team. But in the end, whether or not you are going to get assistance in building your EPICC team or do it yourself, it’s time to get started and get to work.

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