secure methodology

The Secure Methodology™ Step Two: Mindset

fixed vs growth mindsetMindset impacts everything we do. It’s the one thing someone can control in most situations. When your mindset is broad, overcoming challenges seems possible. Since cybersecurity is really a discipline riddled with challenges, you can see why mindset is so important. That’s why it’s the second step in the Secure Methodology. It builds on what you learned in step one awareness.

What Is the Secure Methodology?

First, here’s a refresher on the framework of the Secure Methodology. It’s a guide with seven steps featured in my book, The Smartest Person in the Room. Its purpose is to help organizations transform their technical teams into excellent communicators. It provides tools to think outside of ones and zeroes or black-and-white thinking.

Using the Secure Methodology can build a more collaborative group and enhance their people skills. As a result, your cybersecurity will be more adept at preventing and responding to threats.

In this article, I’ll briefly summarize the elements of step two mindset with a glimpse at what you can learn in the book that can impact your cyber professionals.

Two Dimensions of Mindset: Fixed and Growth

The idea of two different mindsets — fixed and growth — isn’t new, but it still provides the foundation for how to evolve it. First is the growth mindset. In this condition, people believe they are in charge of their own life. You realize you are the cause, not the effect.

Those with a growth mindset have no doubts that they can overcome challenges. They see possibilities where others don’t. They are willing to try new things and have curious nature that loves to learn. These people are solution-centric and have a passion for solving problems.

A fixed mindset is much the opposite. Those in this category think everything is set in stone, and they have zero control. They believe they are the effect, not the cause. In most cases, they are closed-minded and have no desire to learn and change. These beliefs limit everything they do. They are confined by them and stay stuck.

A growth mindset is what you’d like to see in all your cyber professionals. However, you’re probably already aware that’s not the case. So, why is a growth mindset so critical in these settings?

Without a Growth Mindset, There’s No Ownership of Actions

A growth mindset is flexible and adaptable. Those with it own their actions and can learn from them. Without this accountability, failure would always be the fault of someone or something else.

The willingness to lean into mistakes and grow from them is a skill that helps anyone in business and life. Because cybersecurity is a big puzzle with new pieces appearing constantly, a growth mindset allows people to adjust to this environment. Those with a fixed one won’t thrive. They just want to go through the motions, and that’s a big threat to your organization’s security.

Mindset’s Impact on Cybersecurity

The most vital aspect of mindset in cybersecurity is facing the truth. That means complete transparency around the threats posed every day and the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of a network. Growth mindsets can handle the truth; fixed mindsets are always running from it.

Lack of an open mind keeps people in the same routine of going through the motions of cybersecurity. They approach every project the same, overcomplicating it so they look like the smartest person in the room. These individuals have very narrow blinders on and simply recite the processes like it’s a monologue in a Shakespeare play.

Fixed mindsets can’t accept anything new, including solutions that are a good match for the issue at hand. If you have a team walking around not facing the truth, your organization could be in serious cyber trouble.

How Fixed Mindsets Bungle Cybersecurity

So, what does fear of the truth and an inflexible mindset look like in cybersecurity? Lots of examples are happening all around you. Here are some scenarios.

Password Vulnerabilities

Penetration testing is a normal part of keeping an application secure. One can reveal many cracks in the security walls. Often, passwords and algorithms that generate them can have flaws.

Correcting for this doesn’t have to be overly complex. Yet, time and time again, I’ve seen cyber leaders do just that. Rolling out complicated authentication systems gives the illusion of better security. It can also be expensive.

When cyber professionals are too focused on their one way to solve a concern, they see no other alternatives. As a result, it makes things less secure.

Communication Breakdowns

Another example is simple communication within a team. It can be regarding a major project, a cyber rule, or another exchange. For example, you could be debriefing an incident, and fixed mindset people will communicate in a manner that deflects blame and offers no insight.

They cannot accept the truth of the situation and feel it was unavoidable because they did the things they’ve always done. That type of thinking will sink cyber initiatives and strategies. You’ve got too many people in the boat unwilling to paddle.

So, is mindset changeable? Can you put a fixed mindset through experiences that help them break free from it? First, people need to have the right commitment.

Commitment Is Crucial

A growth mindset is the first building block, but your team has to do more. They must commit to this mindset. In doing so, there’s no friction or barrier to trying a new approach to an old problem. So, it’s not enough to be in a place of growth; they also have to commit to evolving.

The commitment goes beyond that of change. Your team also needs to commit to cybersecurity. Without this, winning the war against cyber criminals is a losing proposition.

They also need to be dedicated for the right reasons. Cyber professionals that only see dollar signs won’t hack it. Cybersecurity is a hard industry. There’s a lot at stake. The pressure is palpable, and it’s constantly changing. A committed growth mindset enables professionals to be nimble and creative.

Transforming Mindsets of Your Cyber Team

Change, in any situation, is hard. It’s much easier to keep going on the same track and not deviate. However, that’s a one-way street to failure. So, you’ll need a solid approach to change these minds and hearts.

If there’s potential for a growth mindset and a commitment to cybersecurity, there are ways to support transformation. Here are some of the best tips for this.

Encourage Reflection

By asking the right questions, you can take a person back to a moment to consider how they might do things differently. Be specific in the questions by asking for two or more things they would do to improve the situation.

Based on their responses, there are coaching opportunities. Reflection looks back, but you want them to take what they learn and move forward.

It may be difficult to pull out these reflections from people not used to doing this. You don’t want it to feel stressful or overwhelming because your mindset closes up when this occurs. The alternative is to recommend that they write about it for at least five minutes. This can be cathartic and move them toward opening up their minds.

Ask Why

Another method to use for mindset is asking why in the 7 Levels Deep Exercise. This is because it takes the average person seven questions to crack into their “why.” You’re peeling back the layers to determine true motivation by going through this exercise.

You can’t move forward with mindset change unless you know the person’s motivation. Not all motivations will align with an open mindset. If those reveal themselves, and there seems nowhere to go, those people may not be the best fit for your cyber team.

Acknowledge Small and Big Shifts in Mindset

Your mantra as a cyber leader in terms of mindset is that a growing one helps people succeed. When you see shifts in this, whether big or small, you should acknowledge them. It doesn’t have to be anything big but an appreciation of the evolving mindset patterns.

For example, your team could be discussing the latest phishing scams that are causing chaos. You have a protocol and strategy around phishing that combines technology tools and training. So, a fixed mindset would follow the same trail. If one of your employees speaks up about adjusting it to account for something new based on past learnings, that’s a growth mindset. This is an opportunity to reinforce this type of thinking. Share with your team why this response is what will assist them in winning the cybersecurity war.

Learn More About Mindset in the Secure Methodology

Find more insights, explanations, tips, and exercises on impacting mindset in The Smartest Person in the Room. With this information, you can develop your staff and help them evolve toward a growth mindset. You’ll also find all the steps of the Secure Methodology and how to integrate them into your cybersecurity operations. Get your copy today.

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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.


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.

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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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Understanding the 6 Human Needs To Become a Better Technical Leader

6 Human Needs - Christian EspinosaBeing a great technical leader is more than just about strategy. Many people believe that if a leader is smart enough and has the right skills, they will be great at their job. In reality, leading with intelligence doesn’t always guarantee results.

Most leaders fail by trusting that their intelligence alone can resolve issues. Often, they forget that they are working with people who, just like them, have needs. With the technological world constantly changing at a rapid pace, the brightest minds must always be ready to adapt or be left behind.

To adapt effectively, a leader must understand people’s needs as well as their own. When a leader connects with others on an emotional level, it’s easier to work on a common goal. So, to get good results as technical leaders, they must have a solid grasp of how the six human needs work.

An Overview of Tony Robbins’ 6 Human Needs and How They Influence Us at Work

Tony Robbins’ work on the six human needs states that we behave a certain way in different situations because of core needs. They are developed from childhood and shaped further by our life events. Understanding these needs will help us work on ourselves to become more efficient at work.

Need for Certainty

Our need for certainty revolves around finding pleasure and avoiding pain. Workers need to feel safe and secure at their jobs. This is why we do all that we can to make things familiar and relatively predictable so that we gain a sense of stability.

Need for Variety

Our need for variety alongside our need for certainty is one great paradox of human need. We want to feel secure about our jobs, but we get bored when things get too predictable. However, the way we crave new stimuli every now and then ensures we gain considerable experience to be more adept at what we do.

Need for Significance

The need for significance drives us to feel unique and important, so we push ourselves to make the most of our capabilities. We find motivation in the praise and recognition we receive from coworkers. When people take notice of our accomplishments, it brings us validation and strengthens our drive to do more.

Need for Connection

Our need for connection makes us relate well with others to establish closeness. This is why we seek camaraderie at work and form groups. Employees feel satisfied with a strong sense of team affiliation. When we feel that we belong, it is easier to have shared goals.

Need for Growth

Our need for growth compels us to expand our capabilities. We have an innate tendency to be better and reach our full potential. We are inclined to test the limits of what we can do by challenging ourselves at work. We are more productive when we know we are better today than we were yesterday.

The Need for Contribution

Our need for contribution is largely based on our longing to be part of a community. When we feel that we are an integral part of a group because of the value we add to it, it gives us a sense of purpose. When we put others before ourselves, it improves our capacity for empathy and compassion.

How Our Identity Ties to the 6 Human Needs

Our identity ties to our needs. Our behaviors are positively reinforced depending on how our needs are met. We also compensate for unmet needs through unhealthy behaviors. We make decisions at work based on what we value the most.

How we value stability or recognition at work, for example, shapes who we are through our behavior. Patterns of behavior in turn create our identity, which people see through their lens, and to which we strongly associate ourselves.

How the 6 Human Needs Relate to Maslow’s Theory

Abraham Maslow first introduced the concept of human needs. The model shows how we prioritize physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization needs, moving from the bottom of the pyramid all the way to the top.

There are parallels between Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Tony Robbins’ 6 Human Needs. Both theories show how we can achieve our goals in life by focusing on our needs.

We cannot give others certainty when we do not feel safe. We cannot feel close to people when we are uncomfortable with ourselves. We cannot become great leaders at work when we have nothing to give. That’s why we must meet our needs first before we can give to others.

How to Create Emotionally Intelligent Workers Through the 6 Human Needs

The success of a well-coordinated organization can be attributed to workers who have a full understanding of human needs. In order to thrive in such a competitive environment, employees in the field of technology must be emotionally intelligent apart from being knowledgeable about their jobs. Every company is essentially composed of people who are subject to their own weaknesses when certain needs are not met.

In our Secure Methodology, the goal is to create emotionally intelligent leaders with strong people skills. These leaders must lead with their hearts, not their minds. They must set a good example for the workers by demonstrating a thorough understanding of the human psyche. Leaders must encourage their workers to do the same.

The Seven Steps of the Secure Methodology:

  1. Awareness: A technical leader must have a full grasp of who they are before they can begin to understand others.
  2. Mindset: A technical leader must have a growth mindset and always be open to change.
  3. Acknowledgment: A technical leader must recognize that their workers are enough by making them feel appreciated.
  4. Communication: A technical leader must consider that the right words, tone, and body language all influence effective communication.
  5. Monotasking: A technical leader must allow workers to focus on a single task first to achieve mastery and stability before asking them to work on another.
  6. Empathy: A technical leader must foster strong connections with others by understanding where they’re coming from.
  7. Kaizen: A technical leader must encourage others to make progress through their contributions.

Practicals to Better Understand the 6 Human Needs

Knowing the six human needs by Tony Robbins will not guarantee leaders the instant ability to work well with others. It takes a proactive approach to develop a conducive environment for developing emotionally intelligent workers.

One good way to get started is by encouraging workers to take this quiz to discover their top human need — the “driving force” that influences their behaviors. There can be a focus group discussion afterward where workers are free to evaluate how their needs are being met at work. This exercise allows people to connect and better understand each other’s needs.

Wrapping It Up

An understanding of Tony Robbins’ six human needs is essential for today’s technical leaders. It is not enough for leaders to be smart and skilled. They must also know how to work well with others. Emotionally intelligent leaders can easily get ahead in such a competitive industry because they have the support of motivated workers whose needs are being met.

For technical leaders to be successful, they must remember these key takeaways:

  • Before leaders can understand others’ needs, they must first understand their own.
  • Leaders must learn how to empower workers in meeting their own needs.
  • A leader’s team of workers thrive best when their needs are consistently met.
  • To properly execute the Secure Methodology, the leader must have a full grasp of the 6 human needs.
  • A leader must proactively improve their understanding of the six human needs and encourage workers to do the same.

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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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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.

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