“I’ll tell you why our relationship works,” one of our clients, the CEO of major global manufacturing concern, recently told me during a pause in our conversation. “Two reasons. You help my executive team make better decisions. And you help our board gain assurance that we are placing an appropriate level of emphasis on security-related risk management across all of our operations.”

Trusted Security Advisor

When I’m in a discussion with a family office director, a CEO or a senior business leader, there are often moments like this when we pause. Short moments of silence.  We wait to give one another a chance to go back to something we were just discussing or to steer the conversation in a new direction. There’s a comfortable rhythm to the exchange. As if we have known each other for years – even when we haven’t. It’s a communication that is unique – a conversation between two senior decision-makers with an understanding, from different perspectives, about how to advance business performance while also protecting lives, billion-dollar operations, global brands and corporate and family reputations.

  • Behind one of us stands an enterprise – along with a complex, strategic risk portfolio, multi-layered operating budgets, hair-trigger stock price sensitivity and ranks of administrative, operational and functional leaders. Or, if I’m speaking with a family office director, the background context is a corresponding set of complex relationships and issues from family security and privacy to discreet and sensitive investigations.
  • Behind the other stands a cadre of senior experts in strategic security and investigations among other facets of risk management – deeply experienced specialists who have served in positions of trust for decades.

3 Characteristics that Make a Great Advisor

The CEO’s comment was a gratifying revelation to hear, especially given this hard-charging executive’s style and the fact that sharing this information didn’t fit comfortably within his usual observations. “I don’t know what you call that exactly,” he remarked brusquely. “But whatever it is, it works.” We call it serving as a trusted security advisor. And we see this rare relationship as a noble and honorable one. To be effective, however, it must combine three characteristics.

1. One is expertise – and credibility, if you like – in each of the critical domains that comprise a strategic approach to security.

2. The second is trust – a professional intimacy that is only possible when client and advisor make a transformational shift from a transaction-driven mindset to a relationship-based model founded on integrity and transparency.

3. The third is insight – a strategic, cross-enterprise perspective that permits the advisor’s counsel to extend well beyond the strict, literal boundaries of a typical corporate security department to a far more valuable arena: how the security department needs to interact and collaborate with nearly every other component of the enterprise in order to create sustainable, long-term business value.