Two Things To Know

There are two things to know.

  • Know-how:  That’s knowing how to do things yourself.
  • Know-who:  That’s knowing who to go to to get everything else done. 

None of us is perfect.


We each have strengths and weaknesses.


No one has all the answers–despite some big egos out there!


That’s why we all need each other.


Knowledge is great, but networking magnifies your potential many times over.


These are two things you definitely want to know. 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

In The Know or Dark

So here is one way that some people can (try to) manipulate you–positively or negatively. 


They can help either to keep you “in the know” or “in the dark.”


As we all know by now, information is power!


When you’re in the know–you are a trusted agent and a valuable resource; you have more dots and more connections between the dots to make; you are able to analyze what’s happening and make better decision going forward; you can lead with knowledge, wisdom, and hopefully understanding. People come to you for advice, guidance, and because you are a true asset to the team, your superiors, and the organization. 


When you’re in the dark–you are untrusted and unvalued, you may actually be seen as the enemy who needs to be marginalized, put out or taken out! You are kept out of meetings, uninformed or misinformed, and so you become more and more intellectually worthless. Further, others are implicitly or explicitly told that you are poisonous and not to get caught up in the pending slaughter.  A colleague of mine put it this way: “Don’t get between a man and his firing squad.”   


So with others, there can be information alliances as well as information warfare. 


To a great extent, you are responsible for keeping yourself in the know. You need to build relationships, bridges, and networks. You need to read, observe, and talk to lots of people. You need time to digest and analyze what you learn.  And you must build your information store so that it is ready and actionable. 


But to another extent, there are others–superiors, competitors, bullies, abusers–who just might seek to keep you in the dark and bring you down. Not everyone is your friend…some maybe just the opposite. (Wouldn’t it be nice, if we all were just friends!) But showing you the intellectual ass of the group is a powerful nut that once superimposed as an image, cannot be easily distilled. There is plenty of groupthink to go around. And taking out a perceived enemy diffuses their power to everyone else.  What a lousy coup by some nasty f*ckers!


Why some friend and others foe you–who the heck knows. Perhaps some is chemistry; some is tit for tat; some is personal bias and bigotry; and some just the crapshoot of fate. 


In the end, keep doing your part to enhance your value, your friendships, and your integrity. The rest, you have to be vigilant about and realize not everyone wants the lights kept on. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Who’s In Your Corner?

Who's In Your Circle.jpeg

So as the saying goes…


It’s not what you know, but who you know!


Relationships, connections, and networks are critical for all of us to work together and get things done. 


And sure, it’s good to have some reliable people in your corner who know you and can speak good about who you are, what you represent, and what you’re doing.


However, let’s face it, there are some people out there that take advantage and don’t just have advocates, but rather protectors, and it’s a way for those who may be unqualified, unsavory, and incompetent–as individual–to sustain themselves.


Frankly, some of these people should never be in their jobs and should never be a leader over anything or anybody–but they are enabled, because of who and not what they know or are able to do. 


Whether it’s the Peter Principle or bullies and those without a working moral compass or sometimes it seems even a conscience, it can be very scary at times for what suffices as leadership in many organizations. 


Yes, of course, Thank G-d for the many good, well-meaning, and hardworking folks that make getting up in the morning as well as going into the office, worthwhile.


But for those that hide behind the skirts of others, so that they can get away with things that they should never ever be getting away with…well those are not fruitful relationships being maintained, but rather caustic ones that radiate concentric circles of toxicity to organizations, people, and mission. 


People know it when they see it–because it stinks from the stench of bad apples, bullying, disengagement, lack of accountability and ultimately failure. 


We desperately need each person to perform and to band together as an A-Team. 


However, sink or swim–as individuals, each person in their own based on their conscience and contribution without a phony mask of a protectorate accomplice. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

CIO, Social Butterfly Or Tyrant

Friends
So I’ve seen it both ways…



There are those who “lead” by friendship, as if the workplace is one big playpen; and the notion is that those who have the most office buddies wins; to them it’s not the mission or work that is important but rather it’s a popularity contest, plain and simple–they are immature and still stuck in the preschool mode of thinking about what leadership is and how to work productively with others. 



Then there are others who “lead” by tyranny–it is a one person show and they are it; no one else has an viewpoint or idea that matters; anyone else who is good to great is a threat to them–they are insecure and narcissistic and the scariest thing in the world to them is to surround themselves with people smarter than themselves or give credit, respect, and honor to others.



Now there is nothing wrong with doing a coffee, lunch, or happy hour, networking, and building relationships with good people…in fact, interpersonal skills is a critical part of the job and of success.



However, those who flutter around smoozing it up with anyone and everyone, and unlike normal working discussions that have a congenial, “how you doing?” aspect and a serious, let’s get down to business part, these social butterflies never get past the game on last night, their trip to Paris, or their one night stand…it’s all personal, conferences, speeches, but no real work getting done (maybe some smoke and mirrors). 



Similarly, there are times, when decisions need to be made and the debate must end, and not everything in the office can be a vote where majority wins–sometimes tough decisions and trade-offs need to be made, authority exercised, and responsibility taken.



Nevertheless, it’s when moderation and good judgement is lost and a person’s emotional issues, personality disorders, and social anxieties take over that they act the fool–and they either rule by shaking hands and kissing babies (or the office equivalent of favors, favortism, and coffee or drinks, I’m buying!) or they are hard-a*sed, prickly jerks who cannot work with anyone that can pull their own weight and instead we see a flurry people make a dash for the exits. 



How do either of these types of people become leaders of anything? Don’t the executives they report see or hear the chaos in the ranks below and the projects going bottom-up, kaput?



We’ve got to get along and nothing wrong with work friends, but we are here to do a job and do it well and for that we need to come together as decent human beings who treat each other with respect, dignity, and where everyone can make a valuable contribution–CIO social butterflies and inglorious tyrants begone! 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Searching For Cybersecurity Warriors

Searching For Cybersecurity Warriors

For those interested in the field of cybersecurity, I wanted to share some useful websites that I’ve come across:

1) Cybersecurity Training and Competitions

Cyber Aces–provides cyber training and competitions for high school and college students, including:

– Cyber Foundations: For high school students, you can visit the online Cyber Centers and learn the fundamentals of cybersecurity, including modules in networking, operating systems, and systems administration and then take cyber quizzes to compete for honors, awards, scholarships, and even corporate internships.

– Cyber Quests: For college students, you can take “cyber quests” or online competitions associated with the U.S. Cyber Challenge, to demonstrate knowledge of infrastructure security, digital forensics, vulnerability analysis, packet capture analysis, and more. Winners can get an invitation to Cyber Camps for specialized advanced training.

2) Information Assurance Scholarships

The Department of Defense has a generous Information Assurance scholarship program where recipients generally work as a full-time DoD employee for one year for each year of scholarship received.

Similarly, the National Science Foundation offers scholarship where recipients work for a federal agency in the Federal Cyber Service (Cyber Corps) upon graduation.

These are some amazing training and scholarship opportunities to ready the next generation of cybersecurity professionals.

In a 2012 movie that I was watching recently called “Abducted,” the main character tells the others with whom she is being held hostage that they need to fight their way out, and she exhorts them to have “No fear, no excuses, just results”–this is what we need in cybersecurity today! 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Friends or Foes

Two-faced

People are amazing creatures–they can be sincere and trustworthy or phoney and users.  How do you tell them apart?

I learned in enterprise architecture and information architecture that information is power and currency–i.e. that those who have it rule and those who know how to get it–are the kingpins.

They may get information legitimately through research, study, reading, review, and working with others or they may cozy up to others illegitimately, to more to the point–find out “what’s going on?” what have they heard. or “what’s the real scoop?”

In some cases, it is merely benign networking and that is a healthy thing–or as they say, “it’s not what you know, but who you know.”

But in other cases, some people may take it too far, and literally prey on others when they are vulnerable, trusting, or simply let their guard down.

We spend a lot of our waking hours in the office , and therefore people’s social needs manifest in work friendships, confiding in others, going out for a coffee, lunch, drinks, etc.

However, at work, people are also competitive and can be ruthless in getting what they want, making themselves look good, badmouthing others, going for that “gotcha”, and even stealing other people’s ideas and hard work–now where did they leave that notebook?

So when you tell an associate something–are they trustworthy with your feelings, experiences, information tidbits or will they take what you share and use it for their own ends?

There are a lot of good, decent people out there, but unfortunately, not all of people are.

Is their face for real or a poker face?  Are they playing on your side or playing you?  Will they come to your aid at the moment of truth or use the opportunity to thrust the blade through your back.

My father used to joke about some people being two-faced, and then why would they choose that (ugly) one that they have on. 🙂

I always learned talk is cheap and actions speak volumes. So when someone asks about your latest project, your kids, or ailing parents–is it from someone who genuinely gives a hoot or from someone who’d like to get you off guard, even for that split second.

In the military, this would be related to psychological operations (PsyOps)–getting into the other’s person’s head, figuring out what makes them tick, and then using that to extract intelligence or inflict mental and emotional “blows.”

In law enforcement, perhaps the equivalent would be the old “good cop, bad cop” routine–where one person offers you some cold water or a cigarette and tells you everything will be alright, while the other person slams the table, yells, threatens, and says “your going to be going away for a long time.”

There are lots of ways to get into a person’s head, under their skin, and get to that valuable information–without going to the levels of physical, “torture” techniques, some of which have since been generally outlawed such as waterboarding.

So which people that you deal with are good, genuine, helpful, and have integrity, and which are selfish, nasty, and cruel?

It is definitely a challenge day-in and day-out to tell who is who–and you shouldn’t let the bad apples out there, ruin your trust in all people–you just have to make sure to look beyond the veneer–to see if the other person is more friend or foe.

(Source Photo: herewith attribution to BlueRidgeKitties)

What’s Relationships Got To Do With It

Professional_networking

It is said that one of the key differences between leaders and staff is that leaders are supposed to spend significantly more time on relationships, while staff tend to concentrate on the task at hand. 

A number of professors from the University of Virginia indicated that leaders who didn’t spend at least 50% of their time and effort on relationship building, tended to be much less successful professionally. 
According to them, there are 3 areas of professional competence–i.e. necessary skill-sets:
1) Technical–what you need to know in terms of subject matter expertise to do your job (e.g. finance, engineering, sales, etc.)
2) Cognitive–these are the information-processing abilities to reason and problem-solve (e.g. perception, learning, judging, insight, etc.)
3) Relationship–this is interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence (e.g. teaming, motivating, resolving-conflict, influencing, etc.)
As you role changes from staff to supervisor and to manager, so does your time spent:
Staff:  Technical 60%, Cognitive 20%, Relationships 20%
Supervisors: Technical 40%, Cognitive 25%, Relationships 35%
Manager: Technical 15%, Cognitive 35%, Relationships 50%
In others words, as you advance from staff to management, you job changes from being the “technical expert” to spending more time solving specific problems and building relationships. 
Additionally, managers who delegated, supported, trusted, and empowered, and didn’t micromanage the tasks–we’re the kinds of managers/leaders that people wanted to work for and would give more of themselves to.  
So leaders who excel at building meaningful professional relationships, benefit not only from developing important and trusting networks of people around them, but also from actually developing a more satisfied and productive workforce. 
Relationship building is much more than the proverbial “3-martini lunch,”–although 1 or 2 don’t hurt :-)–rather it means:
1) Identifying and surrounding yourself with people that are smarter than yourself–relationships are most fruitful and enjoyable with someone that can challenge you.
2) Reaching outside your “normal” boundaries (organizational, functional, industry, geography) to diversify the sphere of influence–new ideas and best practices are not limited to any one domain. 
3) Ensuring that integrity and trust are cornerstones of any any relationship–there is no compromising values and principles for any relationship!
4) Giving of yourself in terms of self-disclosure, assistance to others, and our most precious resource of time–relationships are not built on thin air, but involve work by both parties; it’s an investment. 
Finally, while relationship-building is critical to leadership success, it is important to surround ourselves with the “right” people as Harvard Business Review (July-August 2011) states this month: Bring people with positive energy into your inner circle. If those around you are enthusiastic, authentic, and generous, you will be too.”  
So choose your professional network as carefully as you would choose your friends.
(Source Photo: here)