“The most important factor in survival is neither intelligence nor strength but adaptability.” — Charles Darwin
Change is an unavoidable constant, not only in a professional context, but also within our personal lives. Sometimes change is within our control, but most often it is not. Our jobs, our responsibilities and our roles change, and not always for the best.
Within the security industry, change should always be expected, and planned for.
Organisations of various sizes, often review their strategies, which often lead to re-organisations at the very highest levels, so we must adjust, and expect these changes to occur, as they will more than likely impact us.
Dealing with change is one of the most important life skills you can have in my opinion. In business, especially within the security function, no day is ever the same, the threats change, our environment changes, the business changes, and the economic climate changes.
Even if you run a dry-cleaning company, or a window cleaning company, even a funeral home, your business is still at risk, I note these businesses specifically as it is assumed these businesses are always fully operational, with very limited chances of failure.
The Covid 19 pandemic was a reminder that this is not the case, no business is, or was full-proof. Some businesses failed, some flourished, I would say it would be very hard to find a business that remained the same, I mean exactly the same.
Those businesses that did survive, likely needed to adapt, or had plans in place such as a BCP (Business Continuity Plan) to enable them to continue operations as effectively as possible, noting that many organisations likely did not have a global pandemic on their radar, we can only plan based on what is known, and for what is not known, the likelihood of an event, or scenario occurring, and what impact does this have, within a security context, this is part of a risk analysis.
The Black Death (Bubonic Plague) killed up to 200 million people between the years of 1347 and 1351. In 1918 the Spanish Flu killed up to 50 million people. The Black Death is considered the most deadliest pandemic in history, killing almost 50% of Europe's population, taking almost 200 years to recover.
In summary, how many organisations do you think were regularly discussing the threat of a global pandemic in their weekly board meetings before Covid 19 came along?
You should not stick your head in the sand and pretend things will stay the same forever, I realized this sometime ago, hence my advocacy and commitment towards CPD and ongoing commitment to become more knowledgeable in my profession, and become a better person.
Leaders & Change
Adaptive leaders choose to view all changes, not simply one, whether wanted or unwanted, as an expected part of life, rather than as a tragic anomaly that victimizes unlucky people.
A leader will have to deal with change as well as lead others through change, this separates the managers from the leaders, of course, in my opinion you should aspire to be both, as management and leadership are two very different things.
Swallow your pride - While you are seen as an person of authority, you are still human, and if you need a little time to adjust to a new environment or process, that is normal. Trying to put on a brave face at all times can actually come over as insincere, so allow yourself some vulnerability.
Lead by example – A leadership philosophy should show your capability and willingness to get through change, instead of just dictating how others should deal with a situation, this goes for a wide array of scenarios, not only leading through change. I myself lead by doing, not by dictating.
Understand your team’s preferences for dealing with change - There are different personalities and tendencies that affect how team members experience change, which means you might need to adjust your approach, in security specifically, different audiences often require a varied approach, adjust the delivery to your audience.
Take feedback and listen to your people - While decisive action is important, you have to make sure it is working for everyone, especially the business.
Adaptability can’t afford to be missing if you want to be a leader. Adaptable leaders earn the respect of their colleagues and motivate those they lead, to embrace change, making business operations seamless.
Leaders are always confronted with challenges that require them to be decisive in implementing change. Failure to arrive at a clear, concise and effective decision as fast as possible can cause their organization to collapse, pivotal in a security leadership post with crisis management and business continuity is a responsibility.
Adaptable leaders understand that while an end goal and a vision are necessary, the path that takes them there needs to be flexible at times. The practice of adaptive leadership means having multiple plans for reaching certain goals.
Rather than getting stuck on one solution to solve a problem, adaptable leaders have a contingency plan in place for when plan A does not work, and plan B might be a better alternate. Planning allows appropriate responses to the demands of the moment, or incident, vital in a security setting.
It is important to highlight relationship building at this point, and stakeholder engagement, if change is occurring within an organisation, having strong relationships with certain people will not only provide you with potentially valuable information, but most importantly, support, critical within a security operation.
Planning creates focus, planning enables leaders to focus on their resources effectively and efficiently and use their energy to reach the goals, again, highlighting the need for a leader to know his team well, and know whom to turn to when the going gets tough.
Planning helps to assess risks and the opportunities that may arise, planning provides the platform to examine the opportunities and threats in current and future phases of operations.
By understanding the obstacles we may face and the tools we have at our disposal, leaders can minimize the risk, and maximize the reward, in a security context, mitigating a risk to ALARP to protect the business and its assets, in a wider context, maximize reward, return of investment and the profit margin, key factors in a security planning and developing a security program.
Talk about the problems
One of the most common myths about coping with change that we might not be content with, is simply ''getting on with it'' and just accepting things for how they are without speaking or providing constructive feedback.
Actively and repeatedly broadcasting negative emotions hinders our natural adaptation processes, either to loved ones, or within the workplace amongst colleagues, this can be common within working environments that foster this workplace culture at the very top.
Unwillingness to Adapt
Without the ability to deal with change, we will find ourselves lost in the event of an unexpected situation or crisis.
Rather than taking advantage of evolving situations we will miss out on opportunities for growth and learning, instead, languishing in fear and, or denial.
Just remember the world will keep on turning regardless, and life goes on. Within the security profession, we must always be prepared for change, be agile, and be prepared to adapt accordingly.
Adaptability is a valuable attribute, and is one of the most useful skills we can have, in business and in life. It’s a word you will see mentioned in job listings as a desired quality of a candidate, and is almost universally mentioned as something positive, I myself would expect to see this in almost every security related job description.
Some people do their best work in environments of almost constant stability, and don’t crave the novelty of new situations every day, they likely do not work within the security function!
Some environments suit this, and some do not, which is part of the everlasting challenge of matching the right people to the right profession, or job role.
Adaptability is the key to success in environments that evolve frequently, security being one of them.
A Skill or a Quality?
Our ability to adapt to change will influence our success in certain areas of life. But is it learned or is it inherent? What do you think?
I personally think it is a skill, that is, something you can learn and improve on as you go through life, I speak of this first hand, as I have had a lot of change in my life within the past five years.
If you believe stress will kill you, it will. If you believe stress is trying to carry you over a large hurdle or through a challenging situation, you will become more resilient and agile.
When you start to feel stressed, ask yourself what your stress is trying to help you accomplish. Is stress trying to help you excel at an important task? Or is stress trying to help you successfully exit a toxic environment or scenario?
Stress can be a good thing, but only if you view it that way.
Focus on your values instead of your fears
Reminding ourselves of what’s important to us, family for example.
The technique works because reflecting on a personal value helps you rise above the immediate situation, and makes us realize that our personal identity cannot be compromised by one challenging situation, the picture is far wider, and as mentioned, life goes on.
Personally personal fitness has also played a significant part of my life, during times of stress and change.
Accept the past, but FIGHT for the future
Even though we are never free from change, we are always free to decide how we respond to it.
If you fixate on the limitations of change or a situation, you inevitably succumb to worry, bitterness, despair or even anger.
Instead, you should choose to accept the fact that change happens, and to think positively, and adapt.