Jun 19, 2012

Leader or follower?


What was you last amazing research in Information Security? Have you ever published a brilliant paper regarding a new technology or an undiscovered vulnerability? How many patents had been -at least- co-authored by you in this field? (yes, the last question is just for US -the weird patent addicts-)

I was wondering if there are people without any positive answer and still think that are 'Thought Leaders in InfoSec'. But, wait a minute! WTF is a "Thought Leader"?

Recently I read this post "Infosec Thought Followers" and it made me think (just a little) about the status of the industry and its "Leaders". Can you be considered as a leader just because you've good communication skills and you're good doing presentations? Yes, there are people that just get on a podium and give a talk, usually about some amazing technology researched and discovered by other.

I'm not saying that it is an easy task, however in that case I think we're not talking about real leaders.

Leadership is a complex concept but, generally speaking, there is an influence relationship among leaders and followers. Are you able to create some influence relationship just talking about something that it hasn't neither a few of originality?


If you're just a really well informed follower acting as a Leader, Can you predict the direction of the industry? Build credibility? Can you be able to anticipate a new threat? Honestly, I don't think so. You, obviously, could be a great and very valuable professional; a really trusted advisor in security for many different businesses, but please, be realistic: this is not leadership.

There are some quick tips that you must have keep in mind if you want to be a thought leader:

1-Thought leadership requires thinking. (Oh! sh1t!)
2-Be different and interesting. (No, it has nothing to do with your wool hat)
3-Don't be self-serving (Are you kidding me??)
4-Tell a story.
5-Build on your brand.

Have you thought in somebody who is doing at least four points of the list?. I know people in the security community who are doing well the last two points, and people who are really experts in not doing the third one. I wish to know more people doing well the first one...

I want to end this brief reflexion quoting the last paragraph of the post I mentioned before:

"Really, we’re all thought “followers” who absorb from one another. That’s what the community is good for. And we need all of it we can get."

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