Data Security Takes Center Stage

Imagine this…you’re a subject matter expert in your company and you leverage your expertise and knowledge frequently. Most of that leverage comes by keeping others informed and offering context to build understanding. You’ve been in your field for 15-20 years, and it continues to become more specialized and more complex. So, you’re sought out more often. But to date, you’ve never thought of yourself as a “center stage” communicator, and you haven’t needed to be.

You’ve been the data points behind others, and your moments of visibility have come in routine reviews and technical discussions with other specialists like yourself.

That profile fits several roles across a company:

  • You could be a SME in analytics who drives the data behind marketing recommendations.
  • You might be a SME in software who supports integrations across divisions.
  • Or, you could be a SME in product who engineers upgrades each quarter.

In any of these spots, you would consider yourself an occasional communicator and endure the visibility in presentations, as needed. But, there’s one SME in companies who is getting more than their fair share of center stage. And, that’s the data security team.

From the top leader to the bench strength of subject matter experts, the entire team has been pulled onto center stage facing an audience they don’t really know well…the senior leadership team and the board of directors.

And if that’s not enough pressure, this audience is looking for more than understanding. They want definitive answers and clear direction. It’s an altitude of a presentation that most SMEs haven’t been a part of, and it brings with it some interesting communication dynamics:

  • Few board members have security expertise, so they are learning as they go. That means the communicators must share knowledge before insights. It can quickly lead to a 100-slide deck with a group that wants less than 10 slides. Communicators have to understand the difference in high-level context and low-level details.
  • Corporate strategies may not position security as the lead investment. That means your direction may be disruptive, and your recommendation may not be well received. Resistance can rock your confidence and put a communicator on the defensive.
  • Board members and leaders don’t make security decisions every day. So, every conversation is a reset on what the company needs to do and the timing of when the company needs to do it. You may feel like a broken record who keeps having disjoined conversations with leaders.

But, this audience does assess risks every day. So, every recommendation has to come with options and well-thought-out trade-offs to consider. The security team has been forced to shift from occasional communicators to high visibility influencers. And, many teams are seeking help to get there.

In the last two years, we’ve worked with more data security leaders than we’ve seen in the last decade. In some cases, it’s because these leadership positions are new and in all cases, it‘s because the position is front and center, or on center stage, with a tough audience.

Companies need to make smart decisions, and corporate leaders need good input to get there. A poor choice in security has proven to be more costly than a failed product launch or a misguided marketing campaign. It can cripple a company and magnify board liability.

That’s a lot of pressure to put on a group that may not have the skill set of strong communicators or may not understand the expectations of a senior audience. But, the skill sets can be developed, and we’ve been working with data security teams to strengthen their role on center stage.

Here’s how we do it:

Clear Storylines – To solve for the “reset” dynamic, we’ve helped data security teams develop a storyline that defines where they want to go and what it will take to get there. It’s the future look that helps a board group or a leadership team understand an ideal state and align to where a company needs to be. It takes a clear and repeatable storyline that the group can remember and reengage with quickly.

Executive Expectations – To solve for “high-level” context versus “low-level” details, we help communicators better understand executive perspective and expectations. Our research and our methodology for executive presentations have supported thousands of high-level conversations, even gaining consensus on topics that were expected to meet resistance. We can help you position options and lead the discussion that will come with them.

Confident Communicators – To solve for personal confidence, we help communicators strengthen their fundamental skills with style coaching. While center stage can feel daunting, it can also be rewarding. The data security team belongs in the boardroom as critical decisions are made that impact the overall health of the company.

Companies are leveraging all of their subject matter experts to make smart decisions across their business.

Are you and your team ready for center stage? You should be. And you can be, by strengthening your style skills and building a clear storyline.

We’ll help you do it. So, call us when you need us.