What to look for when hiring a Chief Security Officer (CSO)

by Patrick Gray of Raines International and G. Michael Verden of The Lake Forest Group

The Lake Forest Group is working with Raines International in recruiting security professionals for top level executive positions to make an immediate impact in organizations across all industries and functions—because in today’s business environment, security has taken on an elevated role in operations to protect an organization’s people, property, and brand.

Accordingly, savvy business leaders want to build an environment that anticipates vulnerabilities, implements countermeasures to mitigate threats, and creates a backdrop of safety and security so employees can thrive.

When you are ready to hire a Chief Security Officer (CSO), you may not know where to start. CSOs can be an integral part of your leadership team because they understand how workplace violence, outside intrusions and other threats can disrupt business operations, impact employee turnover, and inhibit productivity. While they know how to anticipate and prevent the typical risks that may affect your business, a great CSO will have his or her finger on the pulse of the security world and will think three steps ahead to protect against today’s — and tomorrow’s — challenges.

Raines has found that many CSOs come from the military, law enforcement, or government. While those backgrounds support an organization’s security objectives because military and law enforcement backgrounds tend to bring a proactive approach to security, an outstanding CSO will also bring a variety of soft skills. From the obvious to perhaps the unexpected, a CSO may offer the following soft skills:

  • Adaptable and agile
  • Abreast of the latest industry developments
  • Communication skills
  • Business acumen
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Approachability
  • Organizational skills
  • Team building
  • Leadership

The right CSO for your organization should effectively complement your culture. Depending on the size of the organization, the CSO must also have the right support team and governance ability. Whether presenting an annual budget report to the C-suite or conducting orientation security training for new hires, the CSO should have the ability to relate to both, and, more importantly, be capable of engaging with everyone. This connection allows the CSO to communicate important security education and awareness material to the workforce that best prepares them for an incident in the workplace.

The CSO also needs to foster goodwill by demonstrating that any changes in the workplace are for the benefit of the organization’s people and not meant to disrupt daily business activities. A successful CSO realizes that some modifications he or she might make to a business environment in the name of security and emergency preparedness may be met with resistance by employees if they do not properly disseminate and adequately explain these changes and the reasons behind them.

Just as they do for the other leaders on your team, these soft skills can make the difference in your CSO being a simple placeholder and a real change maker who works to create a safe and secure workplace that supports your employees.

We’re Here to Help
You are committed to protecting your employees. We can help you determine next steps to create or enhance your safe and secure workplace, especially as employees return to your businesses or continue to remain at home. Contact Mike Verden at [email protected] or 312.515.8747 to discuss what’s on your mind and visit http://lakeforestgroup.com/.