On Dangers of Standing Alone

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BLUF – We call on one another’s accountability, often recognising the courage required to stand up for right despite challenges. Assuming a stakeholder or leader faces these alone miscasts notions of organisational dynamics and isolation. In some regards we are alone – understand it defies the definition of leadership.

Background

We all stand alone. Leadership soundbite adverts often talk about the courage to stand alone. Whilst most are about standing up to indecent or unethical practices considered pervasive in the workspace, the notion is flawed. We all stand alone, always have done. In our DNA, our fingerprints, our developmental arc, each of us is unique. Even in finding commonality amongst others, we are alone in our respective interpretations of the others and how we bring them into our worlds. We may come to or accept the same conclusions and ways forward, become subject to groupthink or another flawed logic, but we were alone in the decision to accept or not. The people pressuring others to share their beliefs are alone as well.

You being you. Unique isolation allows people to trace out self-awareness and set boundaries for what’s considered acceptable or not. Despite sharing various elements with friends/ family/ associates/ complete strangers, the total composition makes a person an individual. It makes you you – allows you to be you.

Finding your fit. Individual resolution leads to a few considerations about engaging with others. How much you let them into your world aside, the ideal would be to find where you fit. Finding a location/ group/ context/ scale, where elements offered by a person joining either fills a void or works in complement to the existing – creating a mutual congruence. In these circumstances one (or at least an aspect of one) can feel safe to grow and express in a fuller capacity. To say the uncovery of such is rare creates a formidable understatement.

Adaptation of how much you is present. More often we find things tolerable – forcing us to adapt our input/ output to remain in harmony, if not in synchronicity. Questions of our expression of self – how many aspects should I share? how much is too much/ little? at what intensity? – are met only with the impressions imposed on the self. How we see individuals as different people depending on context results from this adaptation of the impression and the expression.

Desire to stand alone, social by nature. The desire to preserve the self drives us to stand alone, yet we are social by nature. Together we accomplish more, share toil and reward, hold one another accountable, bring strengths to cover others deficiencies or grow to exponential results. Sharing our unique natures to be appreciated, sheltered, and utilised to fullness is ingrained in our biology. Without others, the scale we can consider and operate from is limited to what we can do as individuals. There is no larger without others. Barring finding one’s fit, our adaptation of the presented self is what allows us to consider bigger than what we woke with in the morning.

Leaders can’t stand alone. Without others, what will a leader lead? Unlike the social commentary urging leaders to stand alone, consider the alternative. Leaders by default cannot stand alone. Further, integration of a leadership vision into the wider organisation is required to make changes within it. Direct or indirect, others – the followers, those willing to be led – are half the leadership equation.

And yet most organisations stand alone. We can see aloneness present at scale with the semi-self-imposed isolation in which organisations operate, particularly in digital spaces. Some of this isolation is understandable in light of the rightful scrutiny of the risk of anti-competitive behaviours, collusion, and cartels. But is this operating model wise when it comes to cybersecurity?

Cyber isolation is a losing proposition. Operating alone is why organisations still focus down-and-in with regards to cybersecurity – focusing within borders, each having their own CISO structural resemblance. Operating alone is why organisations accept the gamble where they need to win a hundred percent of the time but any of their hundreds of thousands of opponents only needing to win once – losing odds couldn’t be clearer.

No man is an island. As long as organisations think otherwise, we will remain cyber-insecure.

-scl

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