Handling Stressful Situations

Noah Beddome

VP of Security Engineering at Datadog



"When I was working as a general consultant for another organization, we had a security incident occur. Someone had compromised on our systems by hacking. I spoke to the people involved with handling it and realized they were stressed and didn't know what to do."

Actions taken

"The problem was not that nobody knew what to do. The problem was that the person who was leading the group tasked with fixing the problem was not inspiring confidence. While he knew what he was doing, he was actively thinking through his process out loud and this made him appear like he didn't have a plan and didn't know what he was doing."

"He asked me to sit in on the meetings, and I took the opportunity to speak to him about what we needed to address. I outlined the problems we could be potentially facing, and we talked through them to make a plan, so that he wouldn't have to do this in the larger, general meeting. When the main meeting was held, he was able to outline this plan and then ask for input. This helped him to move from dealing with the situation in a sporadic way where people were questioning him, to dealing with it in a structured, planned out way. This helped to minimize the amount of chatter and reduced stress, so people were inspired to have confidence in him."

Lessons learned

"In a high-stress situation, minimizing the irrelevant noise and projecting a sense of confidence will usually help everyone else function better. When leading a response effort, you need to delegate and you need to be one hundred percent committed to projecting confidence and competence. As the leader, everyone will be looking at what you're saying, so each time you say something that is poorly thought out you instill a lack of confidence in your team."

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Noah Beddome

VP of Security Engineering at Datadog

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