Skip to content

Illustration by Security Management; iStock

Power Skills: The Soft Skills CSOs Cultivate and Use Every Day

Soft skills often go by other names, including people skills, common skills, core skills, executive skills, and even power skills. Security Management reached out to ASIS CSO Center members to ask which soft skills they found most valuable.

Anders Noyes, CPP, is the head of security and safety for the Honolulu Museum of Art in Honolulu, Hawaii, and has been a member of the CSO Center since 2010. He currently serves as a board chair for the CSO Center.

Lucas de la Rosa is a member of the ASIS Buenos Aires, Argentina Chapter and a CSO Center member since 2022. He is currently the manager of assets protection for CGC.

Richard Widup, CPP, is the president and founder of the Widup Group, LLC, a security consulting firm, as well as a member of the CSO Center. He is also a former president of the ASIS International Board of Directors.

Security Management (SM). What soft skills do you find most useful in your current role as a chief security officer?

Anders Noyes, CPP. The most important soft skills I’ve found over my career specifically for building and leading teams are emotional intelligence, active listening, and empathy. These are all very emotion-based skills that take a commitment on the part of the leader to put their own ego and biases aside to address the needs of the team and thereby serve the team and the organization.

Lucas de la Rosa. The construction and management of networks within an organization is fundamental for a CSO. Knowing about the different existing networks and which one is the most convenient to adopt is important—for example, to introduce the ESRM philosophy within a company. Concepts such as structural holes are scenarios for applying tools like leverage, social capital, and political capacity.

Richard Widup, CPP. Based on my experiences, I am comfortable with defining “soft skills” as non-technical skills that are used on a daily basis to perform successfully in most jobs. These are skills that are generally learned and not taught; however, elements of each can and should be part of the educational development for all.

I believe there are four critical soft skills which are essential for a successful career. Communication, empathy, self-awareness, and agility and resilience are applicable for everyone and at every stage of one’s career.

[ Stay Aware of Threats. SM7 Newsletter: Sign Up ]

Communication, both written and oral, because being able to articulate your thoughts and ideas into a concise yet effect manner is absolutely critical. Under this larger umbrella of communication includes another essential element: the ability to actively listen. Active listening is critical to look out for and understand non-verbal clues, asking clarifying questions, and providing feedback. Some would argue that without this aspect, you cannot effectively communicate.

Self-awareness and empathy form the basis of your ability to effectively manage interpersonal relationships and develop a high level of emotional intelligence.

And agility and resilience together will help you manage the variability of challenges you will encounter in your daily life, both personal and professional. Again, these are skill sets for everyone and every level and at every stage of their career.

SM. What soft skills do you believe would be most useful for newer generations to cultivate if they want to become a CSO?

Noyes. The workplace has changed certainly because of world events, but people haven’t really changed in what they need. Each person is an individual, so a leader’s skills at discovering what makes that person thrive in the job they do and then promoting and encouraging that performance through appropriate incentives is the key to high performance.

Strategic thinking also plays a part when it comes to building a team and weaving the selected individuals’ strengths and weaknesses together to be complementary.

De la Rosa. A professional who is on the way to becoming a CSO must develop persuasive forms of communication within an organization. Persuasive leadership skills in all directions are critical to being able to communicate objectives clearly without being boastful or arrogant. Knowing how to carry a message loaded with value and content is necessary to making an impact on others.

Sara Mosqueda is associate editor for Security Management. Connect with her on LinkedIn or X, @XimenaWrites.