As CISOs become more important to business success, they need significantly different skill sets than previous cybersecurity leaders.
In contrast to other, longer-standing C-level business roles such as CEO, COO, or CFO, the role of the CISO is relatively new, but it has developed dramatically in just the last few years. Today’s CISOs must be more than conventional security leaders, and this is due to two factors: the critical and growing role data plays in the day-to-day operations of a company, and the increased demands of the security function to keep the data safe and operational.
Previously, the CISO position was solely based on technology, and this will continue to be the case. In the increasingly digitized and data-driven world, however, the CISO position has created a unique opportunity at the intersection of technology and business to create pervasive cyber resilience that affects every part of the business, from the boardroom to the mailroom. However, everything is at risk because everything is digital now.
Today, the success of a company is inextricably linked to the protection of its data. As a result, to match successful data protection policy, process, and practice with different business needs and specifications, the modern CISO requires a distinct set of qualities.
According to experts in the global information security industry, here are five of the most critical attributes of today’s CISOs, as well as guidance on how to acquire and retain those skills.
Top 3 Features of Thriving CISOs
A modern CISO is fluent in the language of business
Previously, CISOs were required to conduct highly technical and often undisclosed acts to protect their organizations in the early days of cybersecurity. But, today’s CISOs can no longer afford to be their company’s “cyber tech man.” They must also understand their company’s business imperative, express how their work serves that mission, provide leadership with actionable insights, and foster a security-focused culture within their organizations.
At the very least, CISOs’ efficacy would be affected if they are unable to adequately convey the impact of security on the company’s business vision. In certain cases, the CISO’s or leadership’s inability to communicate can result in poor decision-making, which has a direct and negative impact on the organization’s security.
A modern CISO is a partner
CISOs today must be adept, interdepartmental partners, able to develop and sustain relationships through an enterprise, which is closely related to their ability to speak the language of businesses. Cybersecurity requires the help and expertise of other sections of the company, including IT and communications, marketing, human resources, internal audit, and even cultural change programs, in order to be successful.
It’s difficult for the security function to be successful without good relationships within the company. Every member of the security team, including the CISO, should spend time with the different business units to learn about their objectives and how security will assist them in achieving them.
A CISO in today’s world needs to have a high EQ
Today’s CISOs must be emotionally intelligent, stating that this trait should include both empathies towards others and self-awareness. Leading a team in a high-pressure environment requires them to be concerned about their well-being and ensuring that they are supported. Empathy and consideration of their concerns are beneficial in this situation, as it means that they are sincerely involved and engaged, ensuring a favorable outcome.
In today’s security leadership roles, it’s also important to recognize and consider one’s own prejudices and knowledge gaps. Businesses can create a diverse, inclusive team by being mindful of these factors, which helps them to recruit people who complement their knowledge and help areas of weakness.