Over the years CSOs have upped their game in connecting with the goals and objectives of the enterprise. A few have dug deep and truly aligned with the business at all levels and have created demonstrable value across the enterprise. Unfortunately, some security executives still have not moved in that direction. For security functions to become recognized as valued contributors, it is vital that executives in leadership roles in the security industry become mentors to their peers.
Walking on Unfamiliar Ground
Many individuals are recruited into corporate security executive positions each year from federal, state and local law enforcement as well as from other government agencies and the military. While someone may have been quite successful in the government, it does not mean that they can readily transition into a world that is completely foreign to them. I have spoken with a wide-range of individuals who have gone through that transition, and they shared some interesting insights.
Many stated that they had no idea that the private sector was so complex and had a tough time learning corporate speak.
A number stated that they felt somewhat of a fish out of water and wished they had been able to access more comprehensive research on the sector in which they were now working.
Several told me that they previously had held positions of high esteem in the government, yet felt they were not as highly regarded by the C-suite of their new employer.
Many stated that they felt uncomfortable reaching out to their peers because they didn’t want to appear incapable of understanding this unfamiliar environment.
So how do we help newly minted security executives feel comfortable about asking for guidance and mentoring?
An Approach to Consider
The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) set up a program years ago to mentor newly appointed chiefs. The IACP recruited successful chiefs from departments of varying sizes and provided guidelines to them for mentoring new chiefs. The IACP offers this free service to newly appointed chiefs. This highly successful program could be a model for the security industry.
I have spoken with several CSOs who are considered thought leaders and asked them if they would be willing to participate. To their credit, each and every one of them responded with a resounding “Yes!” A few of these CSOs are also in leadership positions within the ex-government agent/executive associations that exist. Former government employees interfacing with individuals with similar backgrounds can help to reduce the awkwardness for those that come out of the same agencies and are entering the private sector.
If you are interested in becoming a mentor or would like to have someone you can talk to about getting help from a mentor, please let me know. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and as always, I appreciate your feedback and insights.