It's the Team that Makes It Possible

by Steve Raia, InfraGardNCR Board Member

Like many of you, I spent some time during the holiday season reflecting on the past year and making plans for how to do something incrementally better in 2022. What I came away with was a desire to put renewed focus on "the team." If you take a few minutes, I am sure you can think of many people who contribute to your success, including many who do so in less obvious ways. Consider:

  • Direct reports who make and implement decisions that impact your business every day

  • Managers who provide guidance, direction, and coaching

  • Mentors who help you navigate difficult decisions and career roadblocks

  • The financial analyst who helps you get the most out of your constrained budget

  • The sales rep who listens to what you have to say and tailors a solution to fit your requirements and available budget

  • The recruiter who helps you find the right talent in a tight labor market or find the new role you have been dreaming about

  • The ethics officer who helps you stay on the straight-and-narrow

  • The end users who are on the front lines against phishing every day

  • And so many more.

Here are a few things I plan to do this year to give back to the team I depend on:

Start with Respect. Every person I come in contact with deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Our differences are the spice that make us unique and interesting; they should be celebrated. In this category I include both the obvious differences like race and gender, but also less obvious differences that we tend to keep inside. Diversity of thought is critical to a high-performing team, and you cannot get diversity of thought if team members do not feel safe to express their opinions.

Consider Mental Health. One of the things I was reminded of during the recent Summer Olympics was the fact that every person is dealing with their own challenges and roadblocks. Just because someone looks calm and confident on the outside does not mean that everything is smooth sailing. I will give extra effort to supporting and honoring the mental health of the people I work with at all levels of the organization. As part of this effort, I will look at whether I am enabling my team to disconnect from work so they can recharge and be more three-dimensional.

Mentor Others. While I try to provide coaching to members of my immediate team, there are others in my work and volunteer ecosystem who are looking for mentors. I am pleased to participate in my company's executive mentoring program this year, and am looking forward to helping my new mentees identify and achieve their goals.

Sharpen the Saw. I will be a more effective leader and colleague if I respect my own boundaries, mental health, and energy levels. One way I plan to do this is by taking more time to read -- not just professional books, but also reading for reading's sake.

Consider Users. In IT and InfoSec, we often use metrics to manage our work. If we are closing tickets on the first contact, decreasing the time to deploy new code, or detecting and responding to alerts more quickly, we feel like we are doing well. What we often forget is that every one of these transactions has one or more real people on the other side. I will take the time to understand how my work affects them on a daily basis, then find ways to more effectively ensure I am promoting both productivity and security.

Stop and See the Forest. It feels like the pace of business is always accelerating. The constant drum-beat of deliverables and problems makes it easy to lose track of exactly where we are and where we are going. I will take time each quarter to step away from the tactical and revisit the strategic with my team. This will help each of us ensure that the work we are doing is contributing to our goals -- company, team, and personal. Including the team in this process will help ensure that each of us has a say in what we do and how we do it, which is essential for engagement and motivation.


How will you make sure that the team and each of its members are stronger at the end of 2022 than at the beginning?


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