How to Build Your Cybersecurity Leadership Skills as a SOC Analyst

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Leadership skills are important for career growth in any industry, and cybersecurity is no exception. While you can certainly have a long, fulfilling career as a SOC analyst, you may be interested in moving up the ranks into a leadership position one day. Whether you aspire to be a SOC director or even a CISO, these tips will help you position yourself and develop the skills needed to move into a cybersecurity leadership role.

How to Set Yourself Apart Early in Your Career

You might experience an avalanche of learning resources and opportunities as a new SOC analyst. Embrace these opportunities with open arms. Your willingness to learn, combined with attending optional training on other areas of the business, will help you grow as a leader and demonstrate your commitment to growth at your company. As you move into a leadership role, knowledge of other areas of the business is crucial to ensuring the work your team does aligns with larger business goals.

When opportunities arise, don’t hesitate to seek clarity from your leaders about the company’s objectives. Attending company all-hands will give you valuable insights into the executives’ focus. It will also provide a viewpoint into the path the company is going down, which could often change.

Explore cost-effective training platforms and make a regular habit of using them. Staying committed to continuous learning is important regardless of how many years of experience you have, and the resulting certificate or email confirmation can serve as evidence of your commitment. Make sure you keep a copy on hand to leverage during your next performance review.

Develop People Management Skills

As your career progresses, your ability to perform your job effectively while managing people effectively is key. Balancing these responsibilities is crucial to distinguishing yourself as a strong leader. Management skills are just as relevant to your stakeholders and own manager (known as managing up) as they are to your direct reports. Leadership training courses can offer valuable insights into effective management styles.

As you complete courses or come across interesting articles or stories relevant to your team or larger business goals, share them with your team with your reaction and perspective. Not only does this reinforce your own learning of a topic, but inspires others–a key attribute of a strong leader.

Combining these newfound skills with practical experience will put you on track for a manager’s role, where you’ll be expected to monitor threats and also manage a team of analysts.

Looking for more career advice?

Read our SOC Career Guide

Understand the Roles of a SOC Director and CISO

SOC directors typically lead a team of security, threat, and vulnerability analysts and threat hunters. While the role primarily focuses on the operational side of the SOC, directors are also expected to set up education and training programs for their team. Defining and tracking personal and team KPIs are also typically large parts of the role. SOC directors must balance these operational and interpersonal priorities to ensure their team is happy and effective.

A CISO oversees the strategic development of information security policies and procedures. As a CISO, one of the most critical skills is risk management. To succeed in this role, you must have a solid understanding of what risk is, how to rate it, and then how to follow up on and report it to executive leadership.

Communication skills are also crucial, especially because many other functional leaders do not understand all the technical terminology used in IT and security. Effectively communicating the objectives and priorities around security with people who don’t live and breathe it every day takes time and experience, so prioritize practicing with colleagues with whom you have existing relationships.

Keep in mind that at the CISO level, certificates don’t really matter, but adding some to your resume along the way is important to your career progression in the SOC.

Take the Leap from SOC Analyst to Leader

A career in cybersecurity is ripe with opportunities for those with the desire to grow into leadership roles. As a SOC analyst, your experience in the field and your grip on the pulse of emerging threats make you a potential candidate for leading an organization’s security strategy. With dedication, the right training, and a commitment to continuous learning, the cyber world can indeed be your oyster.

Ready to become a SOC star? Learn more about advancing your career by diving into our recently published guide.

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