Security Management: Leading the Virtual Team

Institutions of all sizes struggle with staffing resources - having enough hands available to tend to information security matters. At America First Credit Union in Riverdale, Utah, Lane Gittins, the Systems Security Manager, has learned to overcome this challenge by working in a consultative style - directing a cross-functional team whose members come from across the institution and don't report to him.

Following are Lane Gittins insights into leading a virtual team:

1. Establishing a virtual team- gathering few key people from different departments within Information Security including Internal Audit, Compliance, and Fraud etc. The key is to have a highly trained team -- a team that is very skilled and very qualified to handle different aspects of information security.

2. Directing the team & creating a culture of security awareness requires regular meetings with team members, depending on what the security issue of the day is, and having a senior management representative or a board member on the team like a chief information officer (CIO) who can help guide the team efforts. Team members speaking freely, not being afraid of talking and discussing issues or bringing up bad ideas leads to a comfort zone establishing trust among team members and a climate that welcomes innovative thinking and problem solving. "Do a lot of brainstorming, a lot of talking and that is where the value comes and that is essentially how we lead, is letting the team drive the effort and have open discussions," says Gittens.

3. Overcoming challenges to keep the team going constantly require ensuring that key people are happy. Maintaining and keeping people on board. Making them feel like they are a valuable contributing member of the team.

4. Ultimate team success results in team members trusting and cooperating together, having open and honest discussions. Valuing the input of everyone on the team and then as a team making a decision together.

Tips to lead a virtual team in your institution:

There has to be a trust factor where we believe people are working in our best interest and go from there for a team to be effective.
Involve board of directors, senior management professionals as members of the team to seek direction and guidance.
Promote innovative thinking. Think out of the box and tap into some of the staff creativity that is available to us and sort out the good ideas, incorporate some of them into the decision-making process and do it quickly.
Turn to colleagues both in and out of the organization, become active members of websites and associations in Information Security where we can get the best ideas.

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