The Secure Methodology™ and Cybersecurity Leadership

7 Step Secure Methodology - Christian EspinosaThe advent of technology makes it easier for us to communicate with our staff and improve our business processes. However, it can also be a major risk to our organization: Hackers are lurking in every corner, waiting for the right time to steal information from us.

We need to strengthen the skills of our technical staff by utilizing The Secure Methodology. Through The Secure Methodology, we can help our staff improve their communication skills and encourage them to lead with their hearts and intuition, rather than just their logical minds.

Generally speaking, The Secure Methodology is a step-by-step guide designed to help us improve interpersonal skills so we can easily practice honest and effective communication. The Secure Methodology also promotes more in-depth understanding, allowing every person in the organization to be on the same page and work together towards a common goal, such as stopping cybercrime.

Benefits of the Secure Methodology

Cybercrimes are common worldwide, which is why it’s important for organizations to take preventive measures. The common strategies used by organizations today aren’t flawless as the number of cybercrimes continues to increase worldwide.

The Secure Methodology is different from other existing strategies because it leads us to better results, that do not require more investments in technologies or cybersecurity frameworks. Here are a few of the benefits:

  • Better security: By practicing the seven steps of The Secure Methodology, we’ll have peace of mind knowing that our organization and all our trade secrets are less vulnerable to cybercrimes. The Secure Methodology provides for a better understanding and mitigation of risks to protect our organization from hackers worldwide.
  • Cost reduction: Losing vital information will cost money from our pocket. How can we continue producing products if our trade secrets were stolen? How can customers trust us if their information is at the hands of hackers? When we practice The Secure Methodology in our organization, we reduce costs associated with cybercrimes. Instead of spending money to minimize the effects of cybercrime on our organization, we can use it for other areas that can help our business improve and grow.
  • Develop total intelligence: One of the biggest benefits of The Secure Methodology is helping leaders in the organization develop and lead with total intelligence. Through The Secure Methodology, we can learn to lead using our people skills, as well as our hearts, logic, and intuition. Being able to use different types of intelligence will make us better leaders and more equipped to combat cybercrimes.

The Secure Methodology isn’t just about helping our technical team prevent cybercrimes; it also teaches us different strategies to help improve ourselves and our organization in the long run.

Why the Secure Methodology Was Written

The Secure Methodology was written as an attempt to improve teamwork and cybersecurity in an organization. Yes, there are countless techniques that are meant to help organizations fight against cybercrimes, but not all of these are effective. In fact, looking at the cybersecurity status quo, we see that cybercrimes continue to affect organizations regardless of the size and nature of their business.

The Secure Methodology reinvents how organizations improve and also protect themselves from cybercrimes. Instead of merely using logic and intelligence in combating cybercrimes, the Secure Methodology aims to beat cyber criminals by developing the holistic skills of the staff and by using logic, emotion, and instinct equally.

Moreover, the Secure Methodology helps leaders get their technical people to strengthen their people skills and encourage them to lead with their hearts and instincts. Once we can accomplish these goals, we can quickly improve communication skills, making it easier for the organization to discuss issues and fix them as soon as possible.

The Secure Methodology allows leaders to know where their people are coming from and what kind of help their staff needs when issues arise. When we know what the world looks like from their perspective, we can provide solutions that address the root cause of the problem.

Overview of The Secure Methodology 7 Steps

1.    Awareness

Awareness has two aspects: self-awareness and the awareness of others. As the name suggests, self-awareness is about understanding our behavior or the behavior we can control. Even as a single human being, we should keep in mind that we impact the world around us, which is why we should be mindful of how we interact within it. For example, how, when, and where we frown or smile can significantly impact someone, and we should be aware of it.

Technical individuals and humans in general struggle with self-awareness because we often fill our lives with stimuli, namely social media and games. This removes the time needed to reflect on our actions. Leaders like us also face the same dilemma: we might show up in a meeting in a negative mood, not thinking how this demeanor can impact our staff and their progress during the day.

Being aware of others is also an important part of the Secure Methodology. When we’re only aware of our own actions, we’re not only being self-centered; we are also not helping solve problems in the organization.

For example, if we see a staff member crying at her desk, it’s best to ask her how she’s feeling instead of making an assumption. Making assumptions and being unaware of others’ emotions will likely make us angry and confrontational, making the situation worse.

2.    Mindset

There are also two types of mindset often exhibited by staff in an organization: growth and fixed. Individuals with a fixed mindset believe things are the way they are, and they’re no longer capable of changing. For example, technical staff with a fixed mindset in an organization may often claim, “I’m not very good with people.”

Conversely, someone with a growth mindset will say, “I understand I have challenges working with people, but I’m confident that I can get better.” With a growth mindset, a person understands what they’re struggling with and is open to learn and make changes.

3.    Acknowledgment

Acknowledgment in The Secure Methodology covers a lot of items. For starters, we should encourage our technical staff to focus on self-acknowledgment. Instead of letting them think that they’re not good enough, we should encourage them to acknowledge that their skills are vital to the organization.

Acknowledgment is also important for leaders like us. When we want our technical team to improve their behavior at work, we should acknowledge everything that they have accomplished in the past and let them see what they can do if they gain more skills. This will prevent them from shutting down and motivate them to change.

4.    Communication

Communication is about how we interact with our staff and the type of language we use. In short, communication isn’t just about the words we use; it’s also about our body language and tone. We also need to keep in mind that the meaning of communication is the response you get.

It’s common for technical staff to miss out on body language or tone and only focus on the words being communicated to them. This is problematic and often leads to issues when communicating within the organization. As leaders, we should help our technical staff understand different communication patterns and body language displayed by the speaker. We also need to train our team to listen better, rather than just waiting for a gap in the conversation to speak.

5.    Monotasking

Technical staff in an organization have to accomplish different tasks regularly, but this doesn’t mean they should do everything in one sitting. Multitasking has been hyped for so long, yet following this concept at work doesn’t guarantee better or more outcomes. In some cases, attempting to take on several tasks at one time will only result in anxiety and many unfinished projects.

As part of The Secure Methodology, we should highlight to our technical staff the importance of working with one task at a time. When technical staff practice monotasking, they can easily produce quality work because their focus is poured into one task only.

Monotasking also helps with communication, because if you are monotasking during a conversation, you are present and listening better.

6.    Empathy

It’s common for technical people to think that they’re the only individuals in the organization with problems, and everyone else has it easy. However, this kind of mindset is self-centered and somewhat narcissistic, which can only lead to bigger problems when left untreated.

When our technical staff is self-absorbed, they’re at greater risks of developing depression. Their lack of connection to other people will also make it very challenging for them to collaborate in problem-solving.

For The Secure Methodology to work in our organization, there should be empathy across all levels. Our technical staff shouldn’t jump to conclusions immediately. Sure, their role in the organization is challenging, but this doesn’t automatically mean that the other staff has easier roles to play.

As leaders, we should teach our technical staff the importance of empathy by helping them understand that other people also have different challenges and that they shouldn’t quickly judge others because they have different situations.

7.    Kaizen

Kaizen is a term that means “change for the better,” which is the ultimate goal of The Secure Methodology. If we want to improve our organization’s cybersecurity, we should establish a new process and examine it continuously. Constant and never-ending improvement (CANI) are essential ingredients in achieving goals, no matter how big or small.

Key Takeaway for Each Step

  1. Awareness means we should be conscious of other people’s behaviors and why they behave in a certain way, just like how we want other people to be conscious of how we are.
  2. Without the right mindset, it’s challenging for any of our staff to change and grow. As a leader, we should believe that every single person in our organization has the capability to change. It is also our responsibility as leaders to remain committed to change. Change doesn’t happen overnight; we must also have the right mindset to commit to change.
  3. We should acknowledge our technical team every time they make the slightest progress in their behavior at work. This will encourage them to permanently adapt to positive behavior and grow more in their field of expertise.
  4. Communication plays a vital role in the relationship of every staff member in an organization, which is why we should ensure everyone regularly practices open and honest communication. Aside from making sure that everyone is provided with various communication channels, we should also teach the importance of tone and body language and how this can help us understand the speaker better.
  5. Most technical staff don’t know how to monotask, and it is up to us as leaders to change that behavior. When our technical staff focuses on one task at a time, they can produce more and better output during the day. Knowing how to monotask is also an excellent way for our technical staff to look after their mental health as they can keep anxiety and stress at bay.
  6. Every individual in the organization deals with some type of challenge. Instead of judging others based on their behavior, we should put ourselves in their shoes and understand where that person is coming from. When everyone in the organization knows how to empathize, the team generates better results.
  7. When our organization tries something new, say improving our cybersecurity, we can’t expect to succeed during the first, second, or even third try. Kaizen is the understanding of this process and the encouragement to continue trying. To get desirable results from our efforts, we need to practice regularly and not just dabble.

Short Activity for Each Step

  1. One activity to broaden the awareness of our technical staff is to let them reflect on what happened to them on the previous day and instruct them to imagine themselves as if that were their last day on earth. When they know they have limited time to live, they would likely treat others the way they want to be treated.
  2. Keeping a journal is a great way to develop a growth mindset within our team. We can encourage our team to journal every day for a month about the things they’re grateful for and the things they’ve learned. After 30 days, we can meet as a group and then discuss how everyone has grown in a month.
  3. One simple way to acknowledge the progress made by the team is to keep a cookie jar filled with notes about their accomplishments at work. When anyone in the team feels discouraged or hopeless, they can easily get notes from the cookie jar to remind them of what they’ve accomplished in the past and what they can do if they continue to strive.
  4. To improve communication within the team, teach them the fun NLP eye pattern trick. The eyes are the closest organs to the brain, and where a person “looks” (whether to the right or left) when they’re trying to access information can determine if they’re lying. Check out this diagram.
  5. Dividing our team’s day into time blocks will allow everyone to work on things that matter the most. We can simply let them list down the tasks they have during the day and arrange them on time blocks so they’ll know what to work on during a specific timeframe within the day.
  6. One activity to teach our technical team empathy is to have them pair up and have each person make assumptions of the other and then have them discuss their similarities. This activity will help our technical team stop making assumptions about others and encourage them to look for similarities. This will eventually help them develop their empathy.
  7. Kaizen focuses on reflection and never-ending growth, so we can have our technical team keep a workday reflection journal to write down their challenge or win during the day for a week. Then, we can schedule one-on-one meetings with them to discuss what they wrote in their journals and discuss how we can improve their weaknesses or challenges.

For anyone who is interested to learn more about the Secure Methodology, you can get the book or enroll under its program.

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The Importance of Acknowledgment and Appreciation

acknowledgment - christian espinosaAcknowledgment is vital to everybody. It can be more powerful than money. In fact, money may be considered a form of acknowledgment for our work.

Whether it is for ourselves or the people around us, acknowledgment can do wonders. Learn to acknowledge yourself and your team by reading more.

Acknowledgment vs. Appreciation

Many may say that acknowledgment and appreciation are the same. However, acknowledgment has a deeper meaning.

When I appreciate someone, I praise or compliment them. For instance, I say, “Thank you for inviting me here today,” when I appreciate someone.

On the other hand, acknowledging means more than just appreciation. It means I see them for what they do in the world and how they make a difference. Thus, I express my gratitude and recognize them or their work aloud.

When I acknowledge someone, they will feel valued. So instead, I acknowledge someone by saying, “Thank you for inviting me today. I feel so happy being with you. You inspire me to do greater things.”

This latter statement shows that you recognize their efforts and how they impact you.

Impact of Acknowledgment

Because I recognize someone’s work, I know they will feel loved or valued. That is because when I am acknowledged, I also feel valued. The simple gesture of acknowledgment means I am gracious and socially aware.

Especially at work, being acknowledged has a positive impact on the overall performance of a person. For instance, if I am acknowledged for my initiative to do extra work, I feel happy. I will do an even better job next time because of this.

Importance of Self-Acknowledgment

The secret of being able to acknowledge other people is first to acknowledge ourselves. When we recognize who we are and what we have accomplished, it will be easier to acknowledge others.

Moreover, acknowledging ourselves is essential because of the following:

1. Increases Motivation

I measure success with achievements. This is good, but the negative side is when I only consider significant achievements as “achievements.” Sometimes I forget the small things I have achieved because I am so focused on the big things. As a result, I get burned out when I don’t achieve a big goal.

But when I change my mind to celebrate even small achievements, it fuels motivation. It tells me to keep moving forward. Not only that, but it helps me become more aligned with my goals and see tasks in a positive light.

2. Boosts Confidence

Not only do I feel motivated when I acknowledge myself, but I also feel more confident. When I know that I have completed or reached a goal, even if it’s a small one, it helps me do more. That’s because I know I can do it.

Self-acknowledgement allows me to see that I am skilled, dedicated, and hardworking. Without these, I know I cannot reach my goal.

On the other hand, not recognizing my achievements makes me forget that I have skills, passion, dedication, and other values. In the long run, I will feel dissatisfied and may even succumb to depression or anxiety because I no longer trust myself.

Ways to Acknowledge Our Accomplishments

Most of the time, we don’t acknowledge our successes because we don’t know how. Thankfully, I have learned the following ways to recognize my accomplishments.

1. Break Down Your Achievements (Even the Small Ones)

When I go to the supermarket, I list all the essentials I need without forgetting one. I even list down tasks I need to complete so I know what I need to do.

Similarly, I learned to list all my achievements from small to big ones, daily to weekly, short-term to long-term.

By doing this, I feel like I am progressing because I can see my wins throughout my journey. Moreover, writing them down lets me remember those times, including what struggles I may have experienced and how I overcame them.

Having a list helps to see what I have accomplished so far and reminds me of what I’m capable of.

2. Celebrate

Another way to acknowledge accomplishments is to celebrate. This does not mean a grand celebration, but you can have one if you want to. For me, treating myself to a short hiking trip is enough, for instance.

What matters is that you do something that makes you happy as a reward for your accomplishment. Say you have done the laundry that’s been sitting for weeks. Celebrate it by treating yourself to a delicious meal.

Celebrating small wins is not an egotistical or selfish act; it is a way to acknowledge our accomplishments.

The “Cookie Jar”

While trying to accomplish my goals, I have been through many ups and downs. Sometimes the hardships have been very difficult to deal with and have even left me in the fetal position crying on occasion. But David Goggins endured a lot of hardship before he reaped a lot of victories. This is what he called the “Cookie Jar.”

His concept behind this is that he dips into his cookie jar to remember accomplishing things when he is suffering. I also practice this, because it helps me to access my sympathetic nervous system. As a result, I can feel motivated to keep going when things seem too hard.

I follow the cookie jar concept by remembering how it feels to be successful during my victories. Thus, it will help me remember how I was tested by life and how I overcame those odds.

Think back on your victories, and relive the moment in your mind, reminding yourself that you can do more.

Acknowledging Your Team

As mentioned, acknowledgment is also vital in the workplace. Acknowledging your team helps them become more engaged and perform better.

The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People: Chapman, Gary, White, Paul: 9780802461766: Amazon.com: Books

There are five languages of appreciation in the workplace that we can apply when acknowledging employees. These five languages are the same as the 5 Love Languages and are from Gary Chapman and Paul White’s book “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace”.

1. Words of Affirmation

Offering praise and recognition to team members is one of the easiest and best ways to recognize their work contributions. It shows that I value their output and how they accomplish it. It helps them know that I am aware of their efforts.

Thus, I can speak or write praises of their accomplishments. Imagine if you got a word of acknowledgment from your CEO.

2. Giving Quality Time

I spend some of my time with my staff. For instance, I join them over lunch and talk to them. It helps when I share similar experiences. Then I tell them that what they are doing is vital and valued.

When I spend time with them, they know that I know they exist and they are doing something important for my business or company.

3. Acts of Service

This is when I help my team, especially when it involves complicated tasks. By doing this, they will feel more motivated to accomplish the task at hand, and they become aware of how I see them as team members and as partners.

4. Tangible Gifts

Aside from words of praise, I also give them non-monetary gifts like a ticket to a conference. That way, they know that I recognize what they do.

5. Physical Touch

Using physical touch as a form of acknowledgment should be done with more care. A pat in the back or a congratulatory shake hand or fist bump may be appropriate.

Valuing Someone

When I acknowledge my accomplishments, it helps with developing my habit to acknowledge other people as well. Overall, not only can I make myself feel valued and feel good, but I also help others feel the same.

That is the power of acknowledgment. Learn more about acknowledgment and leadership in my book, “The Smartest Person in the Room”.

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