Siemens Event Tells Attendees How to Be an Effective Security Leader

By Ashley Willis

LAS VEGAS — During the Siemens Security Leadership Summit at ISC West on Thursday, attendees learned new techniques to improve their business leadership skills.

The summit included a panel discussion titled, “Leading Change from the Security Office.” Moderated by Security Executive Council Managing Director Bob Hayes, the panel featured three security professionals at top corporate organizations. The participants were Ted Almay, CSO for Deloitte LP; Francis D’Addario, former vice president of partner and asset protection for Starbucks Coffee; and Richard Lefler, former vice president for worldwide security for American Express.

The panel encouraged top management to network with other business leaders to learn different business techniques.. However, Hayes noted that just because something works for one company doesn’t mean it can be universally implemented regardless of the enterprise’s makeup. “There are no such things as best practices because every company is different,” he said.

Almay encouraged attendees to sit in key meetings to understand the business better, noting that although they may not be able to contribute, they will take in a lot of information to help develop leadership skills. D’Addario agreed, stating that for top leaders to advance, it’s critical to step outside of the security industry and take business courses to help hone skills.

“You don’t have to arrive as an expert, so don’t put that tag on yourself,” D’Addario said. “We’re students in the game.”

The Leadership Summit also featured a keynote speech by General Stan McChrystal, former commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan. Credited with the 2003 capture of Saddam Hussein, McChrystal, a former leader of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), used historical references to highlight successful leadership techniques.

During his address, Gen. McChrystal said that in order to be an effective leader, it is critical to be willing to change, emphasizing that for some who are set in their ways, that change can be difficult. He also spoke of developing a shared consciousness and purpose among team members as being a critical factor for any leader to be successful. To create this environment in the workplace, he offered a few tips:

  • Design: define the team; align strategy; and define winning
  • Execute: build the network; foster and force communication; discipline and prioritize the effort
  • Lead: build relationships; lead the effort; learn to adapt

Additionally, Gen. McChrystal highlighted that top management should make sure they appropriately acknowledge workers’ ideas and efforts.

“How many times have you written a great E-mail to your boss and you mentioned the problem, presented a background solution and offered your recommendation?” he said. “You probably had someone else read it and you felt great about it. You hit send, and what do you get back? Just ‘OK.’”

By responding this way, it could deter employees from sharing any more ideas, Gen. McChrystal said.

“No matter what you get, thank your employees for their ideas,” he explained. “You don’t want them to feel slam-dunked. You want them to feel part of the team. It takes a little effort on your part, but it’s never good to respond, ‘OK.’”

One way to thank employees for their work is through handwritten thank you notes. By doing that, it shows workers that management has taken an interest in them, which can stimulate workflow.

“When I get a typed letter from someone thanking me for what I’ve done, I throw it away,” he said. “It doesn’t mean anything because the person probably wrote a bunch of them. But when you handwrite a note, it’s just powerful because it shows that you took the time to do it.”

Ashley Willis is associate editor for SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION. She can be reached at (310) 533-2419.

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