Be an Inspirational Coach, Not an Oppressive Security Executive

Presenter: Andrew Hay

Security executives are often seen by employees as oppressive heavy-handed dictators that demand strict and uncompromising adherence with the organization’s security program. In amateur and professional sports, this “coaching style” is referred to as autocratic coaching. Often seen in football, baseball, and hockey, among other popular sports in North America, this coaching style may not be suitable for teams comprised of experienced and passionate athletes as it stifles creativity and can lower morale due to the restrictions it places on the players. To train and play to the best of their ability, players usually want to feel important to their team – a feeling not easily found when following a rigid and unappreciated plan.

Enter the athlete-centric coaching style, commonly seen in rugby and soccer, that enables athletes to perform at their best while enjoying all the benefits the game has to offer. Coaches who use this style encourage players to voice their opinions and thoughts in order to make the best decisions. This engagement usually results in a stronger relationship with the team as well as a closer inter-team bond. Similarly, the more players are forced to make decisions, the more coaches can adapt to a style that encourages this type of critical thinking, and the greater your athletes will perform.

Perhaps we, as security professionals, have been trying to communicate the security needs of the organization all wrong? Sure, there are times when we need to tell people how to do something, but maybe there is a better way. Maybe changing from the traditional autocratic coaching style to a more athlete-centric coaching style would resonate better with employees and peers? Athlete-centric coaching may be the answer to participation, engagement, and program alignment that we’ve been missing.

Using his experience as a certified coach (USA Rugby, World Rugby) and an experienced security executive, attendees will learn how to apply an athlete-centric coaching methodology to the delivery and operationalization of an organizational cybersecurity program. Attendees will learn:

– The differences between traditional security-oriented autocratic coaching and athlete-centric coaching,
– The application of the “coaching continuum” to empower the organization to collaborative understand and increase security, and
– How to run a “coaching session” to bring together a group of people around a key program aspect and turn them into an efficient team.