Blog

Google Analysis Identifies 8 Practices of Effective Managers

This morning I read an excellent post titled, How Google Is Using People Analytics to Completely Reinvent HR on TLNT.com. The article, by Dr. John Sullivan, discussed how human resource organizations are moving to a data based approach to people management. … Continue reading

A Simple Change can Make All the Difference

Shoe PolshHow often do we go through our day doing our work, our activities without really thinking about what we want to do. Not really making progress toward our dreams and ambitions. I want to share a short story of how I made just a simple change which turned on a light to even greater change in my behaviors. Laying the foundation to an outstanding move to the next level in my personal development. Hopefully you can use this story as incentive to create your own change or as a catalyst to find something simple in your daily routine that you can change.

As most men have probably heard, shoes tell a lot about you. I routinely recommend my interview teams to check out a man’s shoes. They show the attention to detail, how? IF they are polished. It also says that he believes in taking care of the things he is responsible for. What is that? Polishing presents a clean look while protecting the leather and extending the life or your shoes.

I used to polish my shoes while sitting in front of the TV. However, with a target goal of reducing TV time plus the use of digital video recorders (reducing time, yet forcing more focus so I can fast forward through the commercials) I haven’t had an opportunity to polish my shoes. To be frank, this has been going on for a year and my shoes were starting to show their worse for wear.

I began examining my habits and took a hard look at how I was using my time to find an opportunity to polish my shoes.

Now before we go any further I should answer the question that you are probably asking yourself, “Why not have someone polish your shoes for you?”

A very good question. I will answer with a what I learned from reading the book, “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor. In this book Shawn says, “Even the smallest shots of positivity can give someone a serious competitive edge”. Shawn goes on further to say that, “In addition to broadening our intellectual and creative capacities, positive emotions also provide a swift antidote to physical stress and anxiety, what psychologists call ‘the undoing effect.'”

For me, shoe polishing provides that small shot of positivity. I cannot explain why, yet when I spend a few minutes shining my shoes I get a brief moment of zen and immediately feel better.

I always arrive at the office early and use the time to plan and then start my day. I took my shoe polish to the office placed it in my drawer and now my shoes are getting polished.

How does this story relate to change and a harbinger of so much more?

I realized there are numerous opportunities to examine what I was doing out of habit and look for an opportunities to change it. Rather than doing without questioning I began to question. Thinking with childlike wonder and ask why, how, or what for more often and as a result come up with better ways to do rather than just doing.

What do you want to start doing this year that you haven’t been able to get into your schedule? Rather than trying to fit it in at the end of the day look at the start of the day or maybe instead of lunch take that one hour a day one day a week to work on your activities toward your dreams and ambitions for this year.

Reach out and let me know what you are going to change.

Jeffrey Hurley is a seasoned global technology leader who has held positions with Fortune 500 companies throughout the world including diverse countries: Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, United Kingdom, and the United States. He is currently based in Toronto, Canada and New York, US.

Leadership Lessons from The Dark Knight Rises

Batman is a dark and brooding loner suffering from emotional damage tied to the murders of his parents. He acts alone as a vigilante. So what leadership lessons can we learn from the latest Batman movie about leadership? What is Bruce Wayne’s redeeming qualities. Well I am not going to focus on Bruce Wayne; rather, I will focus on the general themes of the movie.

If They Take Your Money You Can Still Come Back
In the movie Bane and his minions invoke a cyber-attack that causes accounts in Bruce Wayne’s name to conduct money losing trades resulting in complete wipeout of Mr. Wayne’s wealth. The first leadership lesson we can learn from this situation is demonstrated when Bruce Wayne is able to continue forward with his mission ultimately regaining his wealth. Bruce Wayne may have questioned his choices, however, he ultimately did not give up on what he knew was the right thing for the people of Gotham.

Each of us will face setbacks throughout life and often these setbacks are financial. We can recover from these setbacks; each of us may recover at a different rate than another. But you can recover even if it means taking a lesser role for a period of time; to regain your footing. We recover and rebuild, it is one of the greatest human abilities and an important leadership lesson.

The only time you don’t recover is when you chose not to. So make the choice to face a setback with strength and fortitude and move on toward the leadership success you seek.

You Can’t Do It Alone
Throughout the movie the emphasis from those around Bruce Wayne was that he needn’t go it alone. That there was opportunity to bring others into his mission. When Bane and his ilk took over Gotham, Batman had to rely on those around him to defeat the enemy. Each took various roles and actions to help overcome the evil that controlled the city. Leadership lesson number two, all great accomplishments are bigger than one person and great leaders recognize bringing others into their vision is a key to great accomplishment.

Great accomplishment happens when you take on challenges that are greater than you can accomplish alone and then you are able to bring other along with you. Remember the leadership lesson and have a dream that is bigger than yourself and allow others to join in and work with you toward a common goal.

Evil Comes in Many Shapes and Sizes
(Spoiler Alert) For the entire movie we are lead to believe that Bane is the evil that Batman needs to fight against. It is not until we are almost at the end of the movie that the real villain emerges. A villain so sinister that she is willing to sleep with Bruce Wayne to accomplish her goals, I believe in the book she even has a child with him.

Individuals with hidden agendas exist in all aspects of our lives. We don’t necessarily know who these individuals are until they chose to reveal themselves. We must always be working on developing our expertise and skills so that if the need is there we are prepared to address the challenge thrown down against us. Success is when opportunity and preparedness meet. The leadership lesson is, are you prepared for when the villain reveals themselves in an attempt to capitalize opportunity?

Great Accomplishment Requires Overcoming Pain
There are two types of pain, emotional and physical pain. Bruce Wayne is dealing with both of these types of pain. The first, the emotional pain of his parent’s murder and the physical pain of his injuries related to his work as Batman. Throughout the movie Batman and Bruce Wayne fight the demons of pain to accomplish the greater good for the benefit of the city of Gotham.

Each of us experiences pain in various ways throughout life. This pain can be both physical and emotional and caused by setbacks we have encountered. The question each of us must ask ourselves is how we will respond to the pain. I am not saying this is easy, pain can be incredibly debilitating. The leadership lesson is in how we deal with and use the pain we have. Can you leverage it to spur great growth and accomplishment? Anyone in a position you strive to achieve will have endured setbacks and great pain that they overcame.

There you have it, my interpretation of the leadership lessons from Batman the Dark Knight Returns. I had to dig pretty deep to get extract leadership lessons from a loaner and I would be curious to hear your thoughts on what Batman can teach us about leadership.

5 Actions to Improve Organizational Cyber Security

In a previous post, 4 essential questions for cyber security, I talked about four questions to getting your organization started down the path to better security. Now that those questions and the answers to them are in front of you what are the next actions to get started. I propose five actions to get your organization moving down the path toward better security. These five actions are not exhaustive; they are designed to get the organization started toward protection, there are more to come.

Challenge the Board of Directors
With the number of security breaches hitting the news many Board of Directors are already starting to ask more questions about cyber security. The board of directors would be focusing on security as a component of the tool box to accomplishing an organization’s strategy. Having the right commitment at the senior levels of an organization should enable the appropriate funding to move important projects forward. Given the level of sophistication of the Cyber Criminal, we are in a real arms race, security should be considered with the same level of importance as Compliance and Audit.

Organizations may ask what is it that we have that is worth stealing. The answer is there are a multitude of things criminals may be interested in. It could private customer information for sale to identity thieves or non-public information about your company that could be used in arbitrage for profit. You may not have the plans for the next iPhone, but there are many activities your companies do that are of interest to a criminal. With technology it is now easier to rob the bank’s customers than robbing the bank.

Raise Awareness of the Impact of a Successful Attack
The impact of a successful attack can impact your reputation, finances, and productivity.  Global Payments, a check processing firm, saw their profit fall 90% due to costs related to a security breach in early 2012. The University of North Carolina and University of Nebraska experienced severe reputation impact due to the breaches of their systems compromising student and alumni personal information.

A common management missive is, “don’t put anything in email that you would not want on the front page of a newspaper” in the security arms race there is a real risk of files on computers being put on the front page. Wikileaks exposed files from several major banks and Anonymous chose to post the Anaheim, California Police Chief’s personal information online in a protest. Yahoo, Dropbox, and others discovered their breaches after user information was posted online.

A successful attack on an organization has far-reaching consequences; insuring your staff understands these risks will encourage cautious behavior when dealing with potentially sensitive information.

Develop a Strategy for Proactive Management of a Cyber-Threat
Much talk of security revolves around the advanced persistent threat (Flame or Stuxnet) these attacks were designed to get into the organization, not be detected, and then report their findings back home to their creators.

Developing proactive approaches to the various threat vectors deployed by cyber criminals is an important component of a security strategy. This involves deployment of tools throughout the network, desktops, laptops, and mobile devices to monitor for unusual activities. As well as keeping all systems up to date with the latest versions and patches.

Hire Experts to Fill Gaps
The Cyber security landscape is rapidly evolving and many organizations cannot afford to hire fulltime 24 hour 365 days a year monitoring and prevention. Hiring third-party specialist firms can effectively augment the full-time staff and get the skills that are in high demand available to the organization.

Adding the ability to accomplish in-depth forensic analysis is a skill that is often best outsourced to experts specializing in this capability.

Proactively Monitor and Report
I may be stating the obvious, however, if you don’t know what you don’t know your organization is at risk. Tracking and reporting on activities within the organization enables security professionals to identify anomalies and eradicate any infections identified.  To identify and determine a reasonable risk appetite, the balance between restrictions and freedoms within the work environment, effective reporting on security is indispensable.

Right thinking or critical thinking is essential for moving in the right direction and coming up with the right solution holding everyone along the path accountable.

Conclusion
It almost feels as if we have entered a spy movie when dealing with the espionage challenges that used to be the domain of governments. The challenge is today espionage has moved into the commercial space. The age of fedora and trench coat wearing spies have been replaced by dark rooms and glowing computer screens.

The cyber security threat is increasing in the level of sophistication each year. Each piece of code released by countries engaging in espionage and cyber warfare is becomes available for review and reverse engineering by others seeking to leverage these tools for their own nefarious gains.

Organizations must elevate the security function and pay attention at all levels to ensure their data and information is safe. What ideas do you have for actions organizations can take to tighten their cyber security?

3 Things Leaders Should Look Out For

Photo Credit: Flickr user Ginger Me

As leaders we tend to focus on the things we need for leadership success often forgetting that there are things we can avoid doing that will improve our leadership as well. In this post I reference three things leaders should be on the watch for.

It is important for leaders to recognize that there are continual forces working to tear down their knowledge and expertise. Keep in mind these three causes are avoidable and that we should be aware of them to avoid reverting to old habits.

Learn to analyze the factors behind these limitations and take preventative action to ensure you don’t give way to the forces working against you.

Inflexible Goals/Not Invented Here
Many managers forget that they don’t have to know everything. Or be the one to create all of the ideas. Leadership isn’t about being the creator or innovator. Leadership is about forming an environment that allows people to excel and become the best they can be. High performers craft immeasurable value for their organizations. Leaders are placed in organizations to build an environment to accomplish company objectives and this requires flexibility and adaptability.

How do you avoid inflexible thinking? By seeking information that represents a different perspective. Human nature is to gravitate toward people who are similar; it is the challenge of the leader to find the different perspective. These differing perspectives open pathways to identifying new opportunities.

A leader’s job is to deliver, however, finding new opportunities, new ways of working, and taking advantage of them is genuine value of leadership. Goal setting isn’t the only mark of achieving organizational success; don’t let goals interfere with the identification of new opportunities.

Not Leveraging Your Staff
Leadership is about leading (I know this is stating the obvious), various situations can cause a manager to forget leading is delegation. There are times when if you did it yourself you probably could do it faster, better, more accurately. Any number of reasons exists not to delegate to your team, however, the top leaders develop those around them. If the leader does not understand the strengths and weaknesses of their team members it can prove difficult to know where the opportunities for development exist. Remember to reach out to when there is an opportunity for a rapid solution or a stretch opportunity among the staff.

Remember, working with team members to understand what they are looking for in their personal development is crucial to being able to leverage them when the situation arises. What opportunities can be provided to enable growth? Delegate to provide the chance to learn through doing.

Often just by sharing ideas and time can help to identify work and leverage opportunities for projects, workloads, and issue resolution. The leader can build on and reinforce the team member’s strengths and abilities.

Forgetting to Give Feedback
Encouragement, respect, and compliments are one form of feedback, another form of feedback includes constructive and situational advice. The onus is on leaders to bring a positive approach to serious issues. There is an art in giving feedback and it requires hands-on involvement to remove barricades to effectiveness.

Organizations are in a constant evolutionary state; what created success yesterday may not create success tomorrow. Remembering what worked in the past and assuming it will work in the future can result in failure.

Technology improvements continue to add value to organizations and personal productivity; however, technology will not replace leadership. Leadership also means seeing employees as an untapped resource that can collectively identify some of the best ideas and solutions to an organization’s problems. Leaders have the opportunity to look to staff for ideas, identification of problems and possible solutions.

Leadership is made up of multiple components and requires looking beyond the horizon. It means acknowledging that success can blind an organization to the need to change. Leaders watch for changing trends, needs, potential devastating occurrences, and possible problems that can hinder an organization’s progress. Then they adapt and work with their teams to move forward in a positive way to generates growth throughout the organization.

4 Essential Questions for Cyber Security Management

Photo by Flickr user M Thierry

Photo by Flickr user M Thierry

Cybercrime is garnering significant media attention and it seems to be increasing in volume, sophistication, and impact. Many organizations have not adequately prepared to defend themselves against the increasing sophistication of these threats; threats that have the potential to inflict colossal reputational, operational, and financial damage to the organization.

The modern robber has learned that it is far easier to rob the bank’s customers than the bank; hitting multiple individuals with a click of a key. To begin the process of building the needed cultural change within an organization, and to have the ability to stand against the threat building silently around us all, organizations should ask the following questions:

How do you track what information is leaving your organization?
The new security threat is the “data breach” where the cyber attacker is looking for information. This information can be in the form of personal data: names, social insurance/security numbers, addresses, bank accounts, etc. These attackers may be looking for research information, companies you may want to purchase, early financial data. With this information they can trade against your organization or sell to the highest bidder.

It is important to understand how data behaves in your organization and watch for different patterns. Whether it is data sent to public email addresses (yahoo, Gmail, or Hotmail), FTP locations, or even carried out on a USB stick. Being aware of what information is leaving your organization is the start to understanding the potential threats.

How do you know who is logging into your network?
Network access is one of the more important areas of protection. This is the first level of defense. How are accounts provisioned and withdrawn. How are vendors given access or limited in their access. What about physical access to your offices. Are staff members locking their workstations when they leave their desk.

Understanding how effective the organization is in controlling the access points to the network is a start to the security process; similar to how a castle or a walled city would protect the entry points. How quickly is access revoked for individuals no longer affiliated with the organization?

How do you control what software is running on your devices?
How is your organization monitoring what staff members install on their desktops? Do you allow people to have administrative rights to their desktops? Are you scanning the machines on a regular basis? Think about the challenges posed by inadvertent installations; are staff unsuspectingly installing bots and malware when clicking on links or photos.

Many people use personal cloud services like DropBox, Evernote, and iCloud to move work documents between the office and their personal devices. Information saved to these services is outside the control of the organization. Scanning the desktops and laptops for installed software and having a policy on use of non-standard software is an important part of building the security foundation

How do you limit the information voluntarily made available?
The new cyber-thief knows to plan an attack and leverage information freely available on the internet to social engineer individuals into giving up information. Assess the information that your organization makes available to the public to understand how it can be used and then determine what should or should not be made available. Equip staff with the critical skills to understand how information can be used and the anatomy of spear phishing attacks.

These four questions are a start down the path of thinking in terms of better cyber security and prevention of a security breach. Security is a real concern for organizations as well as individuals. I would like to hear your thoughts on what questions we should be asking.

Business Leaders Rationalizing Poor Choices

Read a great article today on CNNMoney titled “Your cheatin’ mind: How biz leaders explain away poor choices”. With the list of misbehaving banks growing longer each day the question of what drives the behavior among the staff, at these banks, to act in an unethical way is on a lot of our minds.

Shelly DuBois argues, “The rewards for unethical behavior at big banks are large and fast while regulators act slow and penalties are relatively low. In a low-risk, high reward situation, our brains will work extremely hard to get our values on board with being rewarded, even if that means cheating. That’s not even a complex rationalization.”

Peter Drucker famously said, “That which gets measured, gets managed”. Are these organizations encouraging behavior that is in the best interest of many or the individual?