Canadian Security Magazine

ASIS Women in Security 2019: Qualities good leaders share

Neil Sutton   

Features ASIS International asis toronto bonnie michelman editors pick iahss nternational Security Management Association women in security

Bonnie Michelman addresses sold-out audience at ASIS Toronto chapter's Women in Security event

Bonnie Michelman, keynote speaker at the annual Women in Security conference, hosted by ASIS International’s Toronto chapter on Nov. 14, espoused the qualities that are likely to make a security professional not only a successful leader but a good one.

Networking and communication are two of the most important building blocks for leadership, said Michelman, executive director of police, security and outside services at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. She said, in addition to her professional career, she has also held the position of president on three different international associations: ASIS International, the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety (IAHSS) and the International Security Management Association (ISMA) “Nothing has prepared me for leadership the way those experiences have,” she said.

Practically anyone can lead when life is good and everything is going well, said Michelman — it’s people who can manage during the tough times who differentiate themselves.

Those who fail in leadership often do so due to communication breakdowns. Making connections with people is a vital skill, she said. Find some common ground with the person you are dealing with, whether that’s a shared


hobby or interest, family, or even something mundane. There’s a reason people talk about the weather so much, said Michelman.

Let people talk and become a good listener. “People just want to be heard,” she said. “They want to vent.” If someone is upset about something, they will often de-escalate themselves if you let them.

Other takeaways from Michelman:

  • Have a mentor and be a mentor
  • Hire well. Every turnover is a reflection of you and the corporation
  • People are uncomfortable with change (even if it’s positive) because they don’t know what’s going to happen
  • Over-communicate through change, otherwise you will face the rumour mill
  • Be a transformational leader, not a transactional leader
  • Teach people to take the work seriously but themselves lightly


The conference closed with the establishment of a new executive council to lead the Toronto chapter in 2020:

Chair: Marti Katsiaras
Vice-chair: Sherri Ireland
Secretary: Nicole McNeil
Treasurer: Rick Snook

Rick Snook, Marti Katsiaras, Sherri Ireland, Nicole McNeil

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