I was talking with some colleagues at the ASIAL conference about mentoring and related actions by leaders at all levels to help others, particularly those just starting out, and it made me consider the attributes of leadership that go to ‘giving back’ and ‘paying forward’.
Readers may remember the film Pay It Forward where the young hero calls his plan “pay it forward”, which means the recipient of a favour does a favour for three others rather than paying the favour back. The story, while emotionally manipulative, made a point about the individual’s capacity to pass on knowledge, opportunity and advancement with no other thought other than the person he assists will do good in turn.
In thinking this through, consider three things that a leader can do to pay back for the opportunities he has and pay forward to those that can make a contribution in future.
Number One – Mentoring
Mentoring is a relationship between two individuals based on a mutual desire for development towards career goals and objectives. The relationship is a non-reporting one and replaces none of the organisational structures in place. It is additional to other forms of assistance, such as developmental assignments, classroom instruction, on-the-job training and coaching.
It works best when a mentor brings his professional and life experience to assist another person to chart his course in life. It is not always easy, as the mentor may know the answers, but the art is in guiding and advising, not in directing; the mentee needs to find his own course. The iLead project is a great way for security professionals to get involved.
Number Two – Contributing to Teaching and Education
Leaders who have managed to reach the dizzy heights have probably learnt something along the way. It is time to pass on those experiences in a more formal way by contributing to courses in the technical and further education sector, or at institutes and universities. Lecturers and tutors are often in demand, especially if they are also doing some study themselves.
Alternatively, there may be some official positions on school and college boards or other community organisations that will allow leaders to contribute the management skills they have developed.
Number Three – Engage with professional institutes and representative bodies
Groups like ASIAL, ASIS International, the Risk Management Institution Australasia (RMIA), Australian Information Security Association (AISA) and Security Professionals Australasia (SPA) are always in need of those who can volunteer to take leadership roles. They can range from judging the Outstanding Security Performance awards or the best new product in the Security show, to being on a standards committee in Australia or internationally. These are ways that experience can make a difference for others and the future.
Along with the above, leaders can also write for the security and more general press to pass on their knowledge. In the social media age, it is not that difficult to join in by sharing information, responding to legitimate requests and linking people together who can assist with their respective objectives.
In closing, these ideas fit in well with a number of leadership models, including the Hudson model shown above, which deserves attention. Readers may also wish to Google images for leadership models – there is sure to be one to fit most circumstances. Do not forget to do a bit of tailoring of the models; after all, everyone is a bit unique!
In the next article, I will discuss the opportunity to participate in making and setting the standards for security, both here and internationally. There are more opportunities to contribute in the space coming your way.