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Be A Leader – And Prove It

by msecadm4921

Two very different speakers at the recent TINYg counter-terrorism conference in London had a similar message. Before, during and after a terror or other serious incident, communication by and with staff matters. If you fall short, you may regret it.

Andy Williams, head of security – real estate and services EMEA, was the TINYg host at Nomura Bank in the City of London. TINYg stands for Terrorist Information New York group. As that name suggests, corporate security people, law enforcers and others began the forum in NY, after 9-11. One of the American organisers, Kevin Cassidy, vice-president of security for media company Thomson Reuters, based in Times Square, was one of the speakers. The City of London Police Det Supt Christopher Greany spoke on the terror threats to the UK and City. The two different speakers each warning security managers to prepare in case of incidents, and to be able to prove they were prepared, were Nicole Lipkin, a Philadelphia-based leadership coach; and Mark Scoggins, City of London-based solicitor advocate.

Greeting Mr Hagon
Mr Scoggins began in a typically droll, even rude, but entertaining manner by saying he recognised some faces, including retired police officers, disclosing that 34 years ago he applied to be a police officer but was turned down, ‘because I was too short … I am not one to harbour a grudge,’ he added. “You are all quite senior – Mr Hagon, you like to think you are,” Mr Scoggins said, referring to Phillip Hagon QPM, Head of Corporate Security at retail chain Sainsbury’s, sitting towards the front of the 100-plus audience. When something goes wrong, heads of security will have to explain what they did, to save lives. Mr Scoggins said: “Senior managers don’t do anything at all; you don’t wrap anything, you simply manage.” Having already provoked laughter in the audience, he described how senior managers only answer emails; go to meetings; drink tea and eat doughnuts. “The people I defend tend to be people in positions of senior management and the only thing they do of any relevance is make decisions; follow them up; make sure they are implemented. Your role is effectively of leadership, it isn’t doing things. It’s getting people to do things fully and willingly.” Among Mr Scoggins’ defence cases has been to defend (at the Old Bailey, successfully) Met Police Commissioners Lord Condon and then Lord Stephens against Health and Safety Executive charges. Security managers have to prove after something goes wrong that they did things properly, and in good time; and have the evidence to prove it. Mr Scoggins said: “I am there to keep the [court] audience awake … I am a salesman, and like any salesman I am only as good as the product I am selling. The product is you.” If the facts of a case look bad, he cannot make them any better, whether at an inquest or other court.

What’s your job?
Mr Scoggins went on to questions that will crop up if you have to account for yourself after a terrorist (such as 7-7) or other incident. What was your job on the day? Because if you cannot say, it’s difficult to say you did the job well. Were you relevantly trained to do it? Could you have done a better job on the day – if not, why not on this occasion? You may face an internal de-brief; a criminal prosecution; trial by media; or a disciplinary hearing. When you look at how you and others performed in a ‘nasty event’, it’s difficult to forecast how people will do in a crisis. People in a position of command might not be up to it, perhaps despite training. What are you going to do? Keep them in post? Move them, or get rid of them? Any of these could mean further trouble. If you keep them in position, what if it happens again? If you get rid of them, might they bring a case or speak out against you? In such circumstances, Mr Scoggins revealed, he will make a ‘cast list’. A colleague will ring the company in question once a month, to see if a manager was escorted off the premises suddenly on a Friday – ‘a black bin job’, with his belongings in a black bin liner; or has the person been transferred?

Early hours decisions
Mr Scoggins went on: it’s not only important for the security manager, in his silo, to be prepared; what about others? Other occupiers of a building, for instance at Canary Wharf? He stressed ‘early hours’ decisions. What if in the early stages of an incident a security man dithers over whether to evacuate or declare an emergency, for fear of over-reacting. Yet a decision made early on may be with the least time available and ‘in a maze of conflicting information. What of your judgement? “It’s up to you.” A lawyer will defend on the evidence, ‘which is not the same as the truth. Don’t misunderstand what I am saying; this is not the difference between truth and lies. Truth and facts are judgements; they are what other people say to you about what they see. I deal with evidence. Evidence is what it is: good, bad, indifferent.” Mr Scoggins defined evidence as charts, logs, and memos – paperwork, which could be exhibits in court, ‘your protection in the [court witness] box’. In an incident, do you feel too busy to write your decisions down? Really? Mr Scoggins asked. Can you not tape-record, or write? Although, as Mr Scoggins added, ‘anyone who has got to ACPO rank has lost the power of writing’. Mr Scoggins stressed: you get one chance to create a log, ‘valuable, invaluable evidence’.

Why things go wrong
Things normally go wrong, he went on, because of the lack of communication; people don’t know the right things at the right time. He gave the example of the World Trade Center in New York, where a lack of joined-up thinking and work between building managers, tenants and police was identified after 9-11 – and after the 1993 bomb attempt in the WTC basement car park. If lessons are not learned, is it bordering on the criminally irresponsible, Mr Scoggins asked archly: “It’s far worse to know about a problem and not done anything about it.”

How long?
“I ask you this,” he said. “If you plan for an event, that kicks off; how long is it going to last? One day, two days, a fortnight? How many leaders have you that can effectively take over from one another? There comes a point after not many hours of stress, you need to go to bed; who is going to take your place, and when are you going to run out of people, who are fresh and up to the jobs?” As Mr Scoggins summed up: “It’s down to you, and by the time it goes wrong and you need people like me, it’s too late.” Not only should you the head of security do the job properly, but Mr Scoggins the defence lawyer needs the evidence that you did it properly – ‘without it, we have got problems’. As the event host, Andy Williams after thanking Mark Scoggins for the talk picked up a point (and slide) by Mr Scoggins showing a ink scrawl by 999 service managers that, so they thought, showed their plans on one page. In fact it looked confused and gave a bad impression. Andy Williams, mentioning his police and contract security background, added that security guards and front-line responders might have a limited ability to make notes and write an incident report; even with report-writing training – which he had arranged in his days as a contract security manager.

Leadership coach
So, Mark Scoggins gave the defence lawyer point of view – how the security head can cover his and his employer’s back. Earlier, Nicole Lipkin gave a psychological viewpoint. How do you equip your staff to get through a crisis, and out the other side? How do you be more than a good manager – and be a leader? She asked the audience: while many may have had police or military training, and take it for granted, many in the population have no idea – and that includes most chief execs and chief financial officers. So the lack of idea about what to do in a crisis starts from the top. Hence her talk about crisis leadership. Even preparing for something like workplace violence can help you for other things – an evacuation in case of fire being another example of preparedness for a terror-related evacuation. She suggested creating a ‘radar screen’, meaning that in most cases of crises, there are warning signs. Assign the right people to the right places. Think systematically, before anything happens. Chief security officers should be able to influence and persuade others. Otherwise, it isn’t going to work; because in the crisis you need leaders to get people to act, and respond: “It’s about the ability to think critically, and the ability to think the unthinkable … organisations that are tightly knit, where people have good relationships with one another and trust one another do better after something happens, both financially and in public perception; and in human capital.” If you trust leaders (and know who they are) before something happens, ‘you are going to follow someone that you believe in; and if your leader has given you lies and hasn’t been trustworthy and hasn’t been someone you look up to, it’s going to be harder for you to trust that leadership team.”

Rare to panic
Panic in a crisis is in fact rare, she said: “It tends to happen among people who have anxiety disorders before anything happens. In the business community, if we build strong teams, people don’t feel isolated. You see, the cool thing is: we can build resilience.” One way is to give people information – and not just telling them to be on the alert; but helping them understand what they can do, and why. She stressed that you should develop leadership skills for a crisis before anything happens; and not necessarily among the obvious leaders; other people may come to the fore, in a crisis.

Human to react
That said, staff may have symptoms after a Mumbai terror attack or other-style crisis. In fact, ‘if they don’t experience some kind of symptom, there’s something wrong. We are human, and react to things.” Employees may lose, or gain, a belief in God; may act out aggression; be unable to focus and concentrate; people may even have organic changes. The great leader has emotional intelligence, and understands that emotion is normal. Be aware that people will take time to recover. She stressed that such psychology is not wishy-washy; rather, such insights could help staff to regain focus, and purpose, and help each other.

Some characteristics
She closed by suggesting some characteristics of leaders in a crisis; they feel they can influence life events, and find purpose in life’s turmoil. They have confidence and self-esteem. They are connected to the (work) group; and are adaptable. She gave the example of Rick Escorla, an (English-born) security manager in the WTC, who died on 9-11 but whose training of staff beforehand – giving them that information they needed to save themselves by evacuating promptly by the fire exit stairs – and show of leadership on that morning saved 2000 Morgan Stanley employees. And yet most workers, if their works fire alarm goes off, carry on working; look around, ‘and act really stupid … we are afraid of over-reacting. That is why first responders are taught to be obnoxious to people’. For an organisation to recover, she stressed communication; being truthful, transparent; and giving a plan of action; being visible, and creating a shared value. “Nobody wants to be led by a robot; the really great leaders are the ones who admit, yes, I am going through this with you.” Calm, but not dispassionate, she summed up. She gave 9-11 New York Mayor Giuliani as a good example and the leadership (or lack of) around Hurricane Katrina as a bad example. “In every group there needs to be a leader; disasters breed groups, and groups breed leaders.” That is, the leader who says ‘get out of the building’, and who is able to inspire other people to get going. Such crises may help you identify the next generation of leaders. She ended: “You need to prepare your people, not only yourself and your security staff.”

Who was there?
Who attended TINYg, which also holds similar events in the United States? From the hosts, Nomura security manager Daryll Gordon; former Met Police man and Tesco security head John Purnell; senior police; consultants such as Dr Sally Leivesley and Anders Groenli; and contract and in-house corporate security people such as Donna Alexander, and Alan French. Several companies were exhibiting and had their big guns there. To name two: on the contract guarding company Lynx Security stand – including their MD Craig Pickard and ops director Rajeev Pradhan; counter-surveillance consultants WhiteRock, including CEO Crispin Sturrock.

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