fbpx

awareness

The Secure Methodology™ Step One: Awareness

awarenessHow engaged are your cybersecurity employees? It might not be something you even think about because you categorize these people as purely technical. They do a job based on tasks, and that’s the end of the story. However, that’s not the reality of cybersecurity operations. To thwart cyber-attacks, your team needs to improve interpersonal skills, and they can achieve this with the Secure Methodology.

The Secure Methodology includes seven steps, and in this post, we’ll be covering step one, Awareness.

What Is the Secure Methodology?

The Secure Methodology is a step-by-step guide I developed in my book, The Smartest Person in the Room. I created it as a framework for building better communication skills and understanding.

When applied effectively, it can enhance teamwork within cybersecurity. It’s a reframing of how organizations approach cybersecurity, realizing that it’s not a world of ones and zeroes. The Secure Methodology has a key objective: to outmaneuver cyber criminals by installing skills in staff. Those honed skills leverage logic, emotion, and instinct in equal parts.

The Secure Methodology Considers Cultural Fit, Not Just Technical Aptitude

In my book, I share stories about working with cybersecurity professionals. In many instances, these folks were really smart and had a high technical aptitude. Of course, I would hire them, as any other cybersecurity leader would.

Except these attributes don’t always mean success. In my experience, these technical experts significantly lacked communication and interpersonal abilities. When trying to hold someone accountable for actions that impact staff, they quit. They were completely unwilling to change their narrow view of the world. In the end, those people weren’t a cultural fit. They were not agile or flexible, and those are things that a cybersecurity professional must be!

As a result of these interactions and failures, I developed the Secure Methodology.

It all begins with awareness!

We All Have Behavior Patterns We’re Not Aware Of

People are complex, and our behaviors demonstrate this repeatedly. We’re human and, therefore, not always susceptible to how we behave and its impact. These blind spots are actually programmed in the unconscious mind, which is why we lack awareness of them.

As a result of this programming, we develop bad habits. So, can we identify these blind spots? Absolutely, and doing so is critical. It’s not an easy road and requires work. The first step is observing our reactions to experiences or conversations. That includes verbal responses and nonverbal ones.

After recognition comes the point of determining if we need to change them. Many of these blind spots are much harder to eliminate than others. If they are intrinsic to a person’s view of the world, deprogramming them can be arduous. Making changes related to your attitude, which is what you can control in situations, isn’t for the faint of heart.

So, what does this have to do with cybersecurity?

Lack of Awareness and Its Impact on Cybersecurity

When cybersecurity professionals lack awareness and have no insights into their blind spots, we lose the battle. These technical people often don’t understand the behavior and how it affects their environment.

If you have a team of unaware staff, you can expect cybersecurity initiatives won’t thrive, increasing risks. Here are the key areas of how being unaware causes this.

Relationships Suffer

Cybersecurity must be a team sport. Individual contributors must work in concert, and that’s impossible when a lack of awareness is prevalent. Individuals that don’t understand their behavior sew seeds of resentment and animosity. In turn, communication breaks down, and trust erodes.

Bad Communication Comes Off as Aggressive and Rude

You know those who say, “I’m a straight shooter.” They mean they are blunt and straightforward and seem proud of this. No one expects you to sugarcoat everything, but the way cybersecurity professionals communicate with clients, whether internal or external, matters.

Those that have no self-awareness are often too direct. Their communication style is aggressive and sometimes offensive. It can also have an air of condescension. If this persists, your team’s egos will triumph over collaboration and respect.

If these scenarios feel too close to home, the next question is, “How can you improve awareness?”

Improving Awareness with the Secure Methodology

The absence of awareness puts people in a state of uninformed optimism. Without reaching a level of understanding, we can’t correct them. What you want to transition to is informed realism. In this state, awareness has arrived, and we can work toward a solution. As much as people resist change, we all know it’s possible.

What’s tough about this is that most people avoid the truth about themselves. So, how do you help your staff evolve?

Coaching Encourages Broadening Awareness

One of the most important ways to improve awareness is through coaching. In coaching, people get outside of their narrow view of themselves. It’s not about pointing out flaws or being degrading. Instead, it’s about helping people recognize their blind spots and encouraging them to make healthy, positive changes.

In the coaching paradigm, I offer two key focuses: perspective and state of mind.

Perspective

People are innately self-centered. They can develop greater empathy for seeing other perspectives if they become more aware.

There are some specific questions you can ask in coaching to open up perspective. The way you ask them matters! You have to reframe interactions by asking questions that change the view.

Don’t ask: Can you put yourself in that person’s shoes?

Do ask: If that person were in your shoes, what would that look like?

Don’t ask: How can you be more aware of what’s happening in your team?

Do ask: How would you speak to your manager about being more aware of what’s happening on your team?

These are simple changes in communication, but they work in the context of reframing. Word choice and syntax impact your employees and their journey for better awareness. These may seem like nuances, and they are. They are also something to pay attention to and practice. You may get responses that open up the conversation and the employee’s eyes.

As they say, ask better questions, and you’ll get better answers.

State of Mind

A person’s mindset and awareness of it shape interactions. State of mind is something a person can control. It impacts decision-making, so if it’s negative, that will play out. Coaching others to be aware of this can influence how they interact with others.

Improving How You Communicate with Employees Influences Awareness

The next aspect of broadening awareness is communication. In exchanges with staff, asking the right questions expands their awareness.

When conversing with technical people, be specific and prescriptive. Spouting off jargon and terms that have no significance to them won’t engage them. They, of course, won’t tell you that, which feeds into the cycle of detachment.

Here are some communication tips.

Be specific and relatable.

Communicating in this manner can break through those with uninformed optimism. This unawareness causes people to act and communicate in ways that are self-serving. They ignore the reality of others or the impact of things. If people don’t tune into messaging, it’s because they can’t relate to it, or it’s so high-level that they can’t comprehend the implications.

If your communication of goals, strategies, and needs is specific and relatable, people can move toward a state of informed realism. They connect the dots and become fully aware of the situation, what it means to them, and the bigger picture.

Understand the employee’s motivation.

Every person has different motivations. If you want your employees to broaden their awareness, you’ll need to know what motivates them. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to position communication more effectively.

Create perspective outside of the person’s current view.

How we perceive the world depends on our image of reality. Each person’s perception is unique, based on their experiences. It influences everything they do. It’s a concept called territory maps, which I explain in the book.

For a high-level explanation, these maps are models of reality. Using them in coaching can be beneficial. They often hold the key to discerning motivation.

High-Level Takeaways on Awareness

In review of the Awareness step of the Secure Methodology, here are key takeaways:

  • Awareness includes self-awareness and awareness of others.
  • Blind spots cause bad behaviors, and addressing these requires deep introspection.
  • Becoming aware is challenging for any person, possibly more so for technical folks.
  • Lack of awareness harms cybersecurity, specifically in relationships, communication, and understanding.
  • Broadening awareness requires strategies, such as coaching, communication approaches, and more tactics.
  • Communication should include being specific and relatable, understanding motivation, and creating perspective beyond a person’s limited view.
  • People skills are just as valuable as technical ones for cybersecurity professionals.

Learn More About Awareness in the Secure Methodology

In the book, The Smartest Person in the Room, you’ll find even more insights into the awareness quandary. Going deep into the phase is vital to moving to the next one. The book includes an exercise to try with your team to broaden awareness. Get the details by getting your copy today.

Check Out The Smartest Person in The Room

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.

Check Out The Smartest Person in The Roomv

Awareness: Models of the World

Awareness - Christian EspinosaBeing an effective leader requires many things. Aside from understanding our own skills and capabilities, we need to exert time and effort to understand what others can do and how factors in the environment affect our ability to lead. We need to look at the bigger picture and change our perspective on things.

Self-awareness and “models of the world” as used in the NLP Presuppositions are two of the most important concepts we should learn a leaders. Fully understanding what these ideas mean will make it easier for us to effectively lead individuals and teams.

What is Self-Awareness and Awareness of Others?

Simply defined, self-awareness is the experience of being aware of the different aspects of ourselves. Self-awareness can include feelings, behaviors, and habits.

Self-awareness is important because we can experience ourselves as separate and unique individuals once we have a better understanding. Being self-aware can empower us to implement changes by building on our strengths and identify areas that require improvement.

Awareness of others, on the other hand, is referred to as interpersonal awareness that teaches us how to understand other people and why it’s important to show understanding to them. Awareness of others is one of the cornerstones of effective leadership because understanding others will help us improve our interpersonal skills.

What Does “Models of the World” Mean?

In Neuro-Linguistic Programming or NLP, the term “models of the world” refers to an individual’s beliefs, filters, values, desires, and expectations. This term also talks about people’s learning and experience about the world.

In the first NLP presupposition, Respect for the Other Person’s Model of the World, this means we I should acknowledge how different other people are and accept their opinions even if it clashes with ours.

This presupposition also indicates that to be an effective leader, we should not change how other people look at certain things or tell them they’re wrong. Aside from being disrespectful, doing so will make other people feel unsafe and can discourage them from expressing themselves in the future. Once this happens, we’ll have to work twice as hard to lead people and convince them that we are effective leaders.

Every human being in the world has their own “model of the world”, and ours can impact how we see and interact with other people. This happens because our reactions to certain situations will depend on our own beliefs, values, and expectations.

While some leaders get angry the moment their colleague informs them of a project submitted past the deadline, other leaders would calmly ask their colleague why the project was submitted late and offer assistance to minimize any kind of delay moving forward. In the example provided, both of these leaders were in the same situation but acted differently simply because they have different “models of the world”.

How Can We Improve Awareness in the Context of Models of the World?

Since being a leader means working with people that have different “models of the world”, it’s essential that we exert resources to improve awareness. Understanding other people can help us predict how they would feel when placed in a certain situation and allow us to make sense of how they would react.

Improving our sense of self-awareness and awareness of others, while paying attention to the context of “models of the world” in the NLP presupposition, are important ingredients for us to become effective leaders. The more we understand ourselves and the people around us, the easier it’ll be for us to lead.

The following tips are useful for us to improve our sense of awareness:

1.    Prioritize Effective Listening

Communication is vital in every team. Regardless of how skilled the members are, if they’re not communicating properly, they won’t be able to achieve goals. However, for us to become effective leaders and understand others, it’s not enough that we know how to talk — we should also learn how to listen effectively.

Through effective listening, we can better understand ourselves and others because we’ll learn how to identify facts before judging any situation. Listening will help us analyze the situation and people around us, allowing us to come up with sound decisions.

Moreover, it is also through effective listening that we’ll learn how to remain calm despite challenging situations. When we listen to our team members every time they talk to us, we won’t be as surprised when certain things happen.

2.    Repeat What Is Said

Listening is an important skill that takes effort to master. Listening is different from hearing because the latter merely talks about a passive action. When we hear other people talking, we acknowledge that they’re conversing, but we don’t pay any attention to what their conversation is about. Listening, on the other hand, requires engagement.

For us to improve our listening skills and easily understand the environment and people around us, we should always repeat whatever is said to us during conversations. Being able to repeat what the other speaker tells us shows that we were actively listening to their message. Moreover, if we miss something and fail to repeat what the speaker said, the speaker can always correct us to ensure that we have a better grasp of the conversation.

Knowing how to listen attentively requires a lot of practice but is worth it in the end as it’ll be easier for team members to trust us. Most importantly, listening attentively can become our platform to understand members better because we’ll have insight as to why they act or think in a certain way.

3.    Show Empathy and Compassion

One of the biggest misconceptions people have when it comes to effective leadership is that leaders should always be authoritative and strict. For many, these traits will inject fear into their team members, which many think will translate to respect.

However, this isn’t true because team members who fear leaders will likely have a hard time expressing their ideas and working effectively in the team. Fear-based leadership will only cause the leaders to lose their credibility, and the team is often afraid to act.

Instead of being too authoritative and strict, showing empathy and compassion to our members is a better direction for us to take to become effective leaders. When we empathize and become compassionate towards team members, the communication within the team can improve. These traits can also broaden our horizons and allow us to view different situations in another light.

Instead of shouting at a member whenever they fail to meet their responsibilities, we should put ourselves in their shoes and understand their situation. Is the task at hand too challenging for the member? Did we give enough time for the member to accomplish the task? Was the member provided enough resources? Being empathetic and compassionate will give us more insight into my members’ problems and gradually improve our social awareness.

Learning Is Essential

For us to become effective leaders, it’s crucial to have the willingness to learn and the ability to put this newly acquired knowledge into practice. It would be challenging for us to lead individuals and teams if our knowledge and skills become stagnant.

Now that we have an in-depth understanding of self-awareness and the phrase “models of the world”, we can finally look at leadership from another perspective. Incorporating these concepts will allow us to understand ourselves and other people better, making it easier for us to improve our leadership skills.

Check Out The Smartest Person in The Room

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]