Emotional intelligence becoming key to CISO roles

Greater emphasis on emotional intelligence and other skills required to work with different stakeholders is placing new demands on Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) according to a new study.

But it's also creating opportunities for CISOs to become leaders of their organizations, according to the report from cyber security provider F-Secure, in conjunction with Omnisperience.

Traditionally the CISOs role has been technical first, with secondary importance placed on non-technical skills. However, a series of in-depth interviews conducted for the report with CISOs in the US, UK, and Europe suggests that this idea is quickly becoming obsolete.

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Two-thirds of those interviewed understand the increasingly important role emotional intelligence plays in helping them understand, empathize, and negotiate with people both inside and outside their organizations.

And three quarters of CISOs interviewed say their roles have changed from a pure focus on network risk to covering every aspect of technology now being deployed. These changes are most pronounced for those working in the healthcare, manufacturing and retail sectors.

"Today, CISOs are expected to understand and mitigate a wide variety of risks, and then relay that information -- regardless of how technical it is -- to everyone, from boards and company employees to external security professionals, regulators, and even law enforcement," says F-Secure's executive vice president, managed detection and response, Tim Orchard. "The shift to relying more on 'soft' skills began years ago. However, the pandemic highlighted how CISOs that proactively work with people inside and outside their organizations can be leaders for their companies."

Among other findings, two-thirds of interviewed CISOs spend significant amounts of time with external communities of interest, such as roundtable discussions. Regulations and privacy are seen as increasing responsibilities for over half of interviewed CISOs, and 65 percent see themselves as critical to their business.

You can get read more about the findings on the F-Secure site.

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