Who would the CEO of your organization most likely invite to a round of golf: the CFO or you? The answer to such a question would be revealing—and it shows a great deal about security professionals and how they are viewed by their contemporaries.

It has become a truism that in order to maximize effectiveness, one must have a seat at the table in the C-suite. And communication skills will likely play a paramount role in whether or not the organization’s ranking security professional ultimately earns that seat.

Business executives realize that, like it or not, their usefulness to others is regularly assessed and measured. That continual evaluation is reality. Security professionals who aspire to earn a place in the C-suite should realize that this situation is their reality, too. Given this, security professionals who regularly speak and write in the language and style of the military and law enforcement run the risk of being valued differently from those who have MBAs and can communicate in the language of a modern business executive. Regardless of the ultimate value of their contributions, if security professionals communicate more like law enforcement officers than business executives, they will eventually be treated as such, and be compensated accordingly.

Much has been written on the broad topic of management and leadership development. But there is less guidance on the more specific area of executive communication, and the importance of these skills to the leader’s success. This is unfortunate, because in the workplace the language and presentation of an idea can be nearly as telling as the idea itself. Sometimes, a staffer will take his or her cues from this language when trying to evaluate the significance of the idea itself. A sound idea, poorly expressed, can be unfairly dismissed.

Getting on the Same Page

First and foremost, security professionals must recognize that one’s professional success is not just the product of doing a job well. It also depends on the ability to effectively communicate and adapt.

A manager cannot succeed by resting on the laurels of past accomplishments. However justifiably proud a security professional is about past accomplishments and successes, he or she should realize that current customers—whether internal or external—were not necessarily the direct beneficiaries of those past triumphs. In order to provide value, professionals must be able to continually and effectively communicate with colleagues and customers whose needs and expectations are in the present. Consider that the three most used business language phrases in 2018 were “we’re on the same page,” “action plan,” and “game changer,” according to linguists. These terms are still heard frequently in workplaces, including security departments. Why might this be?

These phrases imply the need for action. When used in conversation, they communicate recognition of the increased productivity that will likely result when people get on the same page and agree to pursue a well-considered action plan. When executed properly, the resultant output is often a game changer. The phrases themselves may be getting a bit shopworn, but they still reflect the importance of teamwork and effort.

In addition, “getting on the same page” also has relevance when considering effective executive communication. To be on the same page as a C-suite executive often requires the ability to adopt a higher-level perspective.


To read the complete article as published in Security Management magazine go to https://www.asisonline.org/security-management-magazine/articles/2020/04/leading-through-language-and-listening/

Courtesy ASIS International, April 2020