Traits of a Successful Executive Protection Professional
What makes a successful protection professional? If you search the internet these days, you will be bombarded with photos and videos of large, muscular men and women shooting guns, conducting high risk maneuvers in cars, or running tactical drills at the shooting range. When it comes to performance and training, a high premium seems to be placed on what we consider “hard skills”, but are these skill sets really the most important factor when it comes down to the simple question, “what makes a good security professional?” I don’t believe so. In my experiences, I have found that some of the most important factors in the composition of a successful agent aren’t technically what I would consider skills at all, I would consider them traits.
Before I continue, I want to preface this article by saying that I do consider “hard skills” to be important, from a contingency planning aspect. The popular saying of “if you find yourself using your weapon, then you didn’t do your job properly” is irresponsible and also a denial of the dynamic and uncertain environments in which we often find ourselves working. Situations that require hard skills are usually situations which can incur the most harm or damage to our clientele.
Being proficient in weapons application, hand-to-hand combat, evasive driving and medical skills are worth their weight in gold when it comes to damage mitigation and should never be overlooked or disregarded. No amount of planning can account for an unforeseeable event. This being said, these skills are not often used, and a lot of these situations can be avoided by a security professional possessing the correct combination of “soft skills” and personality traits.
In my opinion, reliability is one of the most important character traits in relation to the security industry. When you have a specific set of responsibilities, it is important that you can hold yourself to the standard of fulfilling your requirements. Reliability will effect everything from detail planning and conducting advances to punctuality. People who entrust you with important duties (clients, supervisors, managers) want to know that you will go the extra mile to complete your tasks and never shirk your duties. The agent who shows consistent reliability will often find his/herself given more important tasks and will be considered an asset not only by their superiors, but by their teammates and subordinates as well.
Confidence is another important hallmark of the successful professional. Clients and team mates often want to be surrounded by people who are sure of their abilities, both physical and mental. While working on security details, things often do not go as planned and fear and anxiety tends to be contagious. If you find yourself losing your cool during an uncertain situation, people will tend to lose faith in your abilities as a protector or teammate. The ability to remain calm and in control will often be responsible in keeping a potentially hazardous situation from escalating or spiraling out of control.
Accountability is the act of taking responsibility for one’s actions. This trait is important because I believe it embodies a number of traits including honesty, responsibility and self-awareness. An agent is often entrusted with a large number of responsibilities, and this can often equate to liability. The agent is who is honest not only with himself, but with others about their shortcomings or even failures, will hold himself to a higher standard, and this will stand out. Being able to view your self objectively and hold yourself accountable for your actions will allow you to identify not only strengths, but also weaknesses that can be improved upon contributing to overall personal growth.
This industry can take a toll on you both mentally and physically. From working long hours and running on little sleep to dealing with stressful/dynamic situations, it is extremely important for security personnel to be able to absorb stressors while not dropping one’s guard or negating one’s responsibilities. Being both physically and mentally resilient will allow an individual to push through difficult circumstances and allow them to achieve the overall goal of protecting the principal(s) and helping to facilitate their movements.
In the world of Executive Protection, protecting the sensitive information regarding your client’s movements and personal life is paramount. We all understand that there is information regarding your client(s) that need to be kept private due to security concerns, but not all sensitive subjects correlate to security. You may find yourself spending a lot of time in close proximity to your client(s) and it is commonplace to be exposed to potentially sensitive information regarding both your client’s professional and private life. It is important for the client to understand that they can trust you with this information and therefore they will feel more confident having you around. Anything that you learn about your client regarding their personal or professional life should never be a topic of discussion outside of a professional environment.
The ability to read your surroundings and understand how you fit into your environment is a huge factor when it comes to safely facilitating the movements of your client(s). This includes everything from understanding the physical environment in which you are operating to reading and understanding human behavior and social clues and how this can affect the outcome of specific situations. A proficient agent needs to be able to see “the big picture”. This, along with an understanding of cause and effect, can allow us to achieve one of the most important aspects of security, prevention. A thorough understanding of one’s place in relation to their environment can allow us to prevent threats not only by avoidance, but also by employing de-escalation and mitigation techniques.
All of the aforementioned traits fall under an over arching characteristic; professionalism. Being a well-rounded professional involves the right combination of hard skills, soft skills and personality traits. In my opinion, learning security centric skills is generally easy compared to the task of changing or instilling the personality traits that I have mentioned above. As long as you are self-aware and are able to honestly address your strengths and shortcomings, I believe that every individual has the ability to work on their character traits in order to develop themselves into a true security professional.
The skills and traits required to operate safely and efficiently in the Close Protection environment are hard to come by and are often unique, even when compared to military and law enforcement training. If you are new to the Executive Protection industry or are a seasoned security individual looking for professional development training, feel free to check out our 8 week Certified Executive Security Specialist (CESS) Program at Pacific West Academy.
Our Students Say
I've been in Executive Protection here in LA since returning from a tour in Iraq in 2005. I think a lot of people who are interested in this field are under the misconception that being a cop, soldier or bouncer will give them all the tools they need to be effective in the EP field. Far from it. These jobs may provide a foundation but they don't provide a true understanding of the dynamics of Executive Protection. Your course was a good introduction to the ins and outs (and potential pitfalls) of EP work. Whether or not someone is new to the field or, like me, just trying to maintain perishable skills, I highly recommend this course.Don Los Angeles, CA
I just wanted to thank you for giving me the opportunity to attend your CPR course. I know your focus is primarily training bodyguards but as a mother of two I wanted to learn CPR 'just in case.' I never realized there was such a difference between CPR for adults and CPR for infants. I now feel comfortable that if something bad were to happen I have the ability to do CPR. Thank you again.Larissa Courpus Christi, TX
I just want to say thank you to ASC for everything. After I graduated I got a call from ****** Security about my interview that I had with them on the last day of school. They said that the skill set and training I received from ASC (along with my military background) place me far beyond the average person who applied for a job with their company. And because of that they want to hire me not as a security guard, but as a shift supervisor. I couldn't believe it. One of my fears about starting my career and security was that I would graduate from training and not receive any job offers. However since graduating ASC I've been offered two jobs (one as a supervisor and one as a guard) and the pay for both are great. The money I'm going to start making is way more than what I was before so for that I want to say thank you. It was because of you guys that my life changed course and now the possibilities are ever-changing. Be sure to pass my thanks to Connor, Omer, Ryan, Jake, Ian, Steve and the rest of the guys.Jovidean Sun Valley, CA
As a former law enforcement officer I thought I had a pretty good understanding of what it would take to be a good Executive Protection Specialist but it's a whole different ball game when you don't have the weight of a badge behind you. Although this course was basically fundamentals, I felt it helped bridge the gap between my experience as a law enforcement officer and the EP field. Although I had done a lot of similar range work before I found the firearms portion of the course work to be very professional and well executed and could see how this would be a great course for someone new to the field. Thanks for a great course.Josh Huntington Beach, CA