Trends in Executive Development & Certifications for CISOs

March 2, 2023 | By IANS Research

In this piece, we're highlighting findings from our annual State of the CISO Report around executive development and leadership training.

The underlying survey, which served as the source for this benchmark data, was jointly fielded with Artico Search. It featured objective data from over 581 CISOs on job satisfaction, career development, the scope of their role and benchmarking data on soft-skill development and mentorships.

CISOs Take Executive Development Seriously 

Increasingly, CISOs are given opportunities for executive development to enhance their personal brand and their stature as a brand ambassador for their company security program. Of the CISOs in our survey, 36% of respondents have completed or are currently engaged in a leadership development program with a certification. A third has or is currently engaged in a 1-on-1 executive coaching program (see Figure 1). 

Figure 1

Pie chart showing 2 out of 3 CISOs Actively Develop Soft Skills


Most CISOs work on soft skill development through training and coaching. Besides the technical prowess that CISOs build during their formative years, most also work on building non tech competencies like communication skills, culture building skills and leadership skills—must-have skills for any business leader, irrespective of function.

Matt Comyns, co-founder and president at Artico Search, explains why CISOs invest in their soft skills:

“As the CISO role continues to evolve from tech role to business risk leadership role, CISOs are more aware of the importance of leadership skills. CISOs must collaborate cross-functionally, present to senior leadership teams and boards, and are often expected to serve as externally facing customer trust executives. This increase in visibility provides a great opportunity for CISOs to develop their own personal brand— something leadership training and executive coaching can help develop”.

Benefits of CISO Certifications & Training 

Executive training certification programs are valuable assets for CISOs to enhance both leadership skills and promote career development. To be effective, certification programs should focus on practical skills and technical aptitude and fit participants' professional goals. Research from our Executive Competencies for InfoSec Leaders Report found that CISOs who had undergone extensive leadership training, developed skill sets that solidly plugged them into the business.

Ways to Boost CISO Job Satisfaction 

Our study found that higher levels of job satisfaction coincide with lower attrition risk. Among the criteria that drive overall satisfaction, CISOs consistently indicated organizational support for career development as a key satisfaction driver. Career development satisfaction is higher overall for CISOs who engage in or have completed leadership training with certification or one-on-one executive coaching.

Based on our sample, career development satisfaction is low for roughly half of CISOs. Leadership development programs with a certification, as well as one-on-one executive coaching, are tools to help boost satisfaction for career development.

Executive Development for CISOs 

To positively influence satisfaction levels and mitigate against attrition, organizations are encouraged to expand CISO leadership development and certification opportunities. 

For CISO’s, you can use the data in this report as a guide to better inform executive leadership about the importance of executive development and its effect on job satisfaction levels. 

IANS offers an Executive Competencies program rooted in research, created for CISOs and aspiring security leaders to develop and strengthen your leadership competencies, operate within the C-Suite and earn valuable CPE credits towards your CISSP certification.

Get in touch to learn more about IANS professional development options for you or for members of your team. 

Although reasonable efforts will be made to ensure the completeness and accuracy of the information contained in our blog posts, no liability can be accepted by IANS or our Faculty members for the results of any actions taken by individuals or firms in connection with such information, opinions, or advice.

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