Leadership Behaviors to Drive Innovation in Security Organizations
It is no secret that CSOs need to be business enablers to maximize success and to collaborate across disciplines as part of a broader enterprise risk strategy. In my article from the August edition of Security magazine, business acumen, strategic capabilities and entrepreneurial mindsets are underscored as the key skills corporations are demanding from security executives and are requirements for generating business value and collaboration in an enterprise risk management program. Underlying these skills and principles of success is innovation at all levels of security organizations. Driving innovation requires a culture that instills creativity, the development of diverse teams, and accountability-driven micro and macro performance at the core of its operations. The following describe key behaviors for the leader to “walk the walk” of putting innovation into action.
More often than not two people working together to solve a problem develops a better solution than if the two individuals had worked independently. To bring about creative solutions, foster collaboration among employees from different functions. Make teamwork a requirement. Indeed, it enables innovation. A Harvard Business School working paper highlighted global collaboration as a key ingredient for innovation and competitiveness. While the article focused on the macro level of collaboration across companies, one can apply the key learning points on a micro level. Entities working together, whether they are individuals or organizations, promote innovation because each of them brings specialized knowledge, skills and abilities to the table.
Build Teams with Diverse Talent
Assemble a team of individuals with different professional skills and who differ by professional background, age, country, gender, ethnicity and culture. Alfonso Gonzales, chairman of Grace’s Diversity and Inclusion Council and director of Leadership Organizational Effectiveness, cites a study in which diverse teams outperformed non-diverse teams by 12 percent with respect to productivity, according to the article, The Business Case for Diversity, from Industry Week. In the ever flattening global market place, diversity and inclusion is a definitive business requirement for the bottom line. Why? Because for most companies, their client base is not one dimensional; it is multi-dimensional filled with men and women of all ethnicities and cultures with different values, desires and needs. Developing and customizing products and services that appeal to a wide customer base requires creativity. Companies that know their customers will perform well. Having a team to represent the many facets of an organization’s customers is “the how” behind the innovation that produces profits. As corporate security functions, we all know that tailoring security and safety solutions is critical for acceptance in the local operating environment. The customization and implementation of these solutions are more effective when done by teams from different walks of life and who identify with the local requirements.
Manage the Performance of We and Me
Author and former Secretary of State Colin Powell once said, “Performance is the only thing that counts.” He is right. Focusing on results and time-based outcomes versus the number of hours your team is spending in the office nurtures an environment of trust, and trust is the foundation of an empowering team environment stimulating creativity and innovation. When the team succeeds, everyone succeeds. Focusing on “we” reinforces ownership of the team’s mission and a collaborative working environment.
At the same time, recognizing individuals’ contributions is also important. Create ownership of the collective mission by aligning the team’s goals with personal interests. According to Dan Pink’s Drive, motivation is driven by autonomy, mastery and purpose. Give individuals more autonomy to work the hours they want by managing by objectives rather than face time. Offer them the opportunity to master a particular skill that can benefit your team through professional development programs. Have each team member outline how their role and tasks contribute to the overall mission, project and goal. Allow them to create solutions and work products that enable them to own the purpose. When objectives and accountability for the team and the individual members are clear, the working environment enables the creative energy necessary for innovative ideas to percolate and take root.