There is a stark difference between risk management and risk management leadership. Risk management is a tactical ability to manage security risks, often through other individuals. It involves setting achievable targets, defining clear objectives, monitoring the progress, motivating and tasking people, and making adjustments as needed. On the other hand, risk management leadership is a strategic competence that involves providing purpose and vision of the risk management process. It concerns setting the overall direction and inspiring participants to commit to realizing an effective process. Besides, leaders have followers, while managers have staff.
Senior leadership in an organization is critical to realizing successful risk management. Company leaders require to invest heavily in and be accountable for all security risk management programs. Risk management leadership should focus on managing risks through prevention rather than correcting situations involving security risks. The fundamental role of risk management leaders is to nurture a healthy security culture in an enterprise. A risk-aware culture permits a business to proactively manage cyber risks instead of solving security issues as they unfold, potentially causing significant implications. Leadership is essential to realizing a quality risk management to protect information systems and critical IT infrastructure from various security risks. Risk management leaders play the following roles:
1. Initiating proper risk management
A strong security culture precedes an effective risk management program. A deep-rooted security culture drives a company’s cybersecurity processes, practices, and policies to accomplish a given security portfolio. A real security culture is one where employees not only strive to uphold the security guidelines but also see other colleagues taking security-focused actions. It is an environment where security is ingrained into business and operational practices, and in which all employees understand their roles in ensuring safety. Security risk management is a critical component that facilitates a risk-based decision-making mindset. Leadership commitment is invaluable in promoting a security culture to ensure an efficient risk management program. Senior leadership influences a security culture in all departments. At the same time, risk management leaders must ensure an organization can perform competent risk management by dedicating sufficient time and resources.
2. Risk assessment
A risk assessment criterion applicable in all business units in an organization must be part and parcel of an effective risk management program. Using a standard method to evaluate the detectability, evaluation, occurrence, and severity of security risks helps a company fully understand the risk posture. Individual risk assessments can be compared to inform strategic treatment and conclusions. Risk management leadership agrees on such an assessment criterion and a risk matric for establishing the overall risk levels depending on individual ratings. Having leadership agree on the risk tolerance thresholds allows an entity to apply a consistent risk management program through aligning business objectives with individual security risk assessments and decision-making capabilities. Moreover, leadership must allocate the necessary subject matters and facilitators by appropriating required budgets and ensuring active participation of all risk assessment sessions.
3. Risk control
Leaders in risk management must determine whether resources are required in risk reduction, or whether identified risks can be accepted without further actions. They must also document the risk acceptance decisions. Risk control at a leadership level should be executed within the strategic business planning context. As such, risk management leaders should concentrate on the strategic level to ascertain suitable focus on the investment needed to reduce or accept risks.
4. Reviewing risks
Senior leadership is integral to the risk review process. The essence of risk review processes is to ascertain the current security risk profile, including the risk assessment information and resulting deliverables. Without proper risk reviews, risk assessments could become outdated and not suitable for leveraging risk management decisions. Risk reviews should be ad hoc as the necessary changes are implemented. Risk management leadership requires event-based and periodic risk reviews within a security policy to ensure that risk management actions occur as needed.
5. Creating risk management goals and vision
Senior leaders must impress upon all teams and individuals participating in a risk assessment and management decision. They need to demonstrate the worthiness and benefits of the entire process to inspire motivation and effectiveness. Leaders should take time to personally encourage risk management participants to provide the meaning of the whole exercise. Emphasizing the essence of an effective and thorough process ensures the identification, prevention, and treatment of all risks, thus protecting company data and assets from possible attacks.
6. Plan development
Senior risk leaders should be at the heart of a plan development process. Planning programs in advance is vital to realizing a practical risk assessment and management exercise. Risk management leadership contributes to a plan development process through consultations with relevant stakeholders and participants to establish the risk management program’s approach. Also, during plan development, leaders can allocate sufficient resources to ensure a company realizes a credible risk assessment and management process. Positive leadership is integral to the formulation of clear targets and objectives.
7. Prioritizing risk management during budget reviews
Funding is usually a recurring challenge when companies deploy privacy and security risk measures. C-Suite leaders need to be mindful of the required resources as they allocate budgets for other business missions. While staffing, software, and hardware need significant investments, it is vital to note that data breaches and intrusions can cause a company to incur extraordinary expenses. An organization’s internal networks could have security flaws that expose data and systems to severe risks. Such vulnerabilities require immediate fixing to alleviate possible attacks. With a more in-depth insight into a company’s mission and direction, C-Suite leaders have the influence that comes with their position to call for adequate funds. As a result, the risk management efforts can be accomplished flawlessly to ensure a robust cybersecurity profile.
8. Link cybersecurity to business processes
Risk management and assessment procedures are woven into a company’s initiatives. As an executive team plans and executes a business’s initiatives, risk leaders must also consider possible cybersecurity risks that may hamper the realization of success of mission-critical objectives. Risk management leadership must be at the forefront to ascertain strategic decisions to consider the anticipated security risks.