How To Be An MVP – Lessons for Security Pros

Kareem Abdul Jabbar wrote an article for Esquire called How To Be An MVP – Like LeBron. In the article, he uses LeBron James, himself and a couple of other great basketball players, to illustrate how you go from good player/athlete to a great leader and an MVP. What I found powerful was in relating his thoughts on being a leader and great player (which makes you an MVP) to being a leader and great security professional … which will make you indispensable to your organization … and give you the opportunity to make a real difference.

Isn’t that what we really want? To make a real difference, improve information security, stop bad guys, safeguard data, etc. Those are the reasons I work in this profession. It’s rewarding, more than just a job. But to be able to be rewarded by those intangibles, I have to be multi-talented, able to lead, great at teamwork, understand what the game (business) is all about.

Keep the team involved. Points scored are of tremendous value to a team, but when a player scores a lot of points without involving his teammates, he is making it more difficult for his team to win.

This particular quote was especially powerful to me. Security professionals tend to be really smart, capable people. Usually they were the star of their teams prior to being in Information Security. They often forget, in my opinion, to involve the team. The team can’t win when one person is busy being all about themselves.

In the 2002 World Series, the San Francisco Giants ultimately lost to the Angels. Many people, including myself, believe a major contributing factor was that Barry Bonds wasn’t a leader of the ball club. He was a great hitter (later tainted by steroids use), a great fielder and great all around ball player. But, he didn’t involve the team, enable the team, lead the team. He, in fact, actually set himself apart from the team in many ways, large and small.

Read the article. Think of the business you work in, the team you are part of. Think of your skills and abilities, those of your teammates, too. There’s some great lessons here to apply to your own situation so that you can be a security MVP. Try it.

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