It is a melancholy object to those, who ply this great trade of security, when they see the companies, the agencies, the facilities crowded with practitioners of our profession, followed by three, four, or six direct reports, all in confusion, and importuning every colleague for a guiding hand.
If you don’t recognize the writing style in the previous paragraph, I’ll remind you of the great essayist Jonathan Swift, who devised an ingenious idea that simultaneously addressed food scarcity, overpopulation, malnourishment and urban blight.
In a similar vein, I humbly posit a modest (and satirical) proposal to address the need for leadership in security. This suggestion will improve efficiency, increase motivation, play to individuals’ strengths and fortify security.
By now, Security as a Service (SECaaS) is well-entrenched, and its benefits have been documented over time. Typically subscription-based, SECaaS provides greater expertise, avoids heavy up-front costs, shifts maintenance to the provider, includes regular updates and upgrades, outsources administrative tasks and offers a web interface for a holistic look at security activities. SECaaS has been so successful that it has spawned offshoots such as Access Control as a Service, Video Surveillance as a Service, Network Security as a Service, and Business Continuity as a Service.
So isn’t it time for Leadership as a Service (LaaS)?
The SECaaS benefits apply equally, if not more so, to LaaS. Let’s take a look.
Greater expertise. No matter how good your people are, they are probably not proven professional leaders in the mold of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King or Julius Caesar. Using LaaS, when the need arises for direction or inspiration, just dial up or call in trained leaders who’ve experienced everything before and know the right clichés to use and hackneyed motivational tactics to deploy. Many have memorized classic motivational speeches from history, such as Winston Churchill’s “We Shall Fight on the Beaches.” For the security industry, they would specialize in Sun Tzu, Napoleon and MacArthur.
Lower up-front costs. Why train everyone to lead when most of that training will be wasted? Many people are not cut out for that type of responsibility. Face it — it takes time, effort and resources to develop leadership abilities. This is valuable time being taken away from more important tasks that have a tangible impact on the bottom line, such as detecting fraud or protecting cargo shipments.
Maintenance. Keeping leaders polished and relevant is hard work. LaaS providers would incur the responsibility of refreshing training, sharpening oratory skills and ingraining the latest business jargon.
Updates and upgrades. A bad leader can taint a whole enterprise, and replacing that leader entails time and expense. LaaS puts the responsibility in the provider’s hands. They have to hire and fire and put people out to pasture. Furthermore, imagine if your staff had to learn soft skills and emotional intelligence. They wouldn’t be able to show their face again in the security industry.
Administration. Just like SECaaS pawns off administrivia on service providers, so does LaaS shuttle leadership to the margins where it belongs most of the time. While the important work of security gets done, leadership stays on the periphery until the time for platitudes and hollow exhortations arises.
Web interface. LaaS providers can fit leaders with trackers, so when they are embedded in an organization, the company can see where they are at all times. This allows a holistic look at where leadership is being applied, particularly so management can keep them from interfering with operations.
Everyone should agree that I’ve made a resounding case for LaaS. Next month, we’ll discuss my equally irrefutable argument of why the CSO should report to the mailroom intern.