Finding everyone’s value


An effective cyber organisation requires multiple talents, some hidden, some obvious. Leaders in cyber should aim to uncover value and conduct the cyber orchestra so as to make it all work together to pre-empt and to resolve cyber challenges.


Once upon a time, I worked with a Legionnaire who was in the cyber division, but really didn’t have much understanding of cyber. He was an old hand in the business, knowing InfoSec and many of the players. Much as they wanted him to talk through or write cyber-related pieces, much as he wanted to do well, he struggled. Until we figured out that his knowledge of the business was of greater value than anything he could do with the cyber portion of it. So he kept looking at what the business was looking at, finding opportunities and audiences, where we would have gone the traditional intel route of tossing it over the fence. He gave us connections within business lasting long after his departure. In other words, he left a long term strategic mark on the cyber team in the organisation.

As humans, we are quick to dismiss. When talking about other humans we are even quicker. There are race/ gender/ class/ sexuality/ religion/ in- or out-group etc. reasons we may (or may not) admit to influencing our opinions. There are thousands of excuses for why a person does not belong – in the group, or in your personal world. It is easy to dismiss, in some cases we privately revel in it.

We are generally foolish to do so.

Not because everyone is a good person at the core. Some are terrible. Not because we are noble to love everyone equally. We are aspirationally noble, perhaps. Anything more and we are likely lying to ourselves and others. But because everyone is valuable, even if only knowing them at a surface level that never goes any deeper. Recognising their value gives you a sense of where they fit in your world, possibly in theirs, and how the two coincide.

First and foremost to our encounters with others is recognising what we don’t want – to behave, give perception of, or otherwise perpetuate. The notion of observing and avoiding certain characteristics lends to classic thought such as the Silver Rule* rather than the Golden Rule**. People who embody qualities to be avoided are considered anti-models as opposed to the role models people aspire towards.

The value of reducing negative qualities is not often examined, as we are often driven (or told) to move towards the desired end-state/ goal etc. rather than away from the undesired. However, moving away from the undesirable has flexibility often overlooked, if attention is paid. In practice, it is easier to remove behaviours that would do harm to others than it would be to create new practices you would expect them to adopt e.g. easier to not throw trash on the ground than to pick it up. Similarly, it is easier and conducive to new behaviours if we find aspects of a person not to exhibit (anti-model) than it is to overlook negative qualities of a person we seek to emulate (role model). in many cases, role models don’t really want the level of attention and judgement which the position demands. Who’s to say an anti-model wouldn’t feel the same, and adjust behaviour accordingly?

While reviewing aspects of a person as a role model or anti-model is fine, sometimes you’ve no choice but to engage with them regardless. At this point, you’ve opportunity to figure a few things out – mainly how they fit. They:

  • come from somewhere,
  • feel belonging somewhere,
  • engage with someone(s)
  • want to do something
  • seek some end-state

Essentially, they have a little world all their own. As do you. Aspects of both worlds touch one another, otherwise you would have no connection. So you want them to fit in your world for whatever reason. They work with you, for you or vice versa. They are deeply involved with someone you care about. The reason doesn’t matter. Finding how they fit does.

Consider yourself Walter Matthau in The Bad News Bears. You haven’t a choice of who you have but where they play. Preferably they will play in a place they can do well in. Advantage is this is your team, your world. They don’t have to know who they are playing with, don’t even have to know they are playing. But you can help shape the value they add here. Hence the value of the Legionnaire.

When you find others who have depth or you want further engagement with, you find yourself uncovering value, both theirs and with them. This isn’t exploring or discovering. In many cases it was close and always there. Many times it wasn’t realised because neither of you knew its value. What one person detests, another adores. Looking at responses, draws, and aversions, you uncover intricate links lacing your worlds together.

At the end of the day, everyone is valuable. One way or another, you uncover how and why, if you are looking. Finding others’ value makes them at minimum more tolerable, a growing area of need. Beauty found in others lies at the other end of the spectrum.

In the cyber world, this skill of finding everyone’s value – among suppliers and clients, across the business, within the cyber team – is essential as cyber threats grow in scope, scale and creativity. To pre-empt and to resolve cyber challenges, cyber leadership needs to look beyond the obvious – credentials, past employer names for example – to uncover value.


*Do not do unto others what you’d not have done unto you.

**Do unto others what you’d have done to you.