An executive protection agent is a security professional who assesses risk and determines action plans to respond appropriately and timely. Over the years, many have confused the EP industry with the regular bodyguarding business. Nonetheless, executive protection is so much more than merely acting as a visual deterrent against malefactors.
Typically, a bodyguard is a person with limited professional training usually lacking:
- Formal education in protection standards,
- Skills associated with non-violent interventions and de-escalation, and
- Know-how on proactive risk assessment, instead focused on reactive defense measures.
In contrast, EP specialists consider various factors to predict and minimize threats and prevent intrusions against persons due to their celebrity status, wealth, employment, associations, or geographical location.
For most ultra-high-net-worth individuals and families, working with an EP team means providing a well-rounded security program to ensure peace of mind.
Hence, any principal and client should rightfully ask: What do I get when hiring an executive protection agent? This article helps answer this question by looking at three core traits of a security professional in this portion of the industry.
Core Traits of an Executive Protection Agent
First off, any proficient EP agent strives to be a licensed, trained individual well-versed in the art of verbal and non-verbal communication. They are not just a person standing around trying to uncover a potential threat among hundreds of people in a crowd.
An executive protection agent molds themselves into a situation, operating with professionalism, tact, and a sense of purpose. Similarly, they proactively address the security concerns of the principal, their family, and entourage. In fact, providing a safe, secure environment partially entails:
- Analytical processing of information,
- Ethical conduct, discretion, and
- In-depth understanding of human factors.
Thus, let us examine three core traits to get to the bottom of what it means to be an executive protection agent who delivers bespoke services.
Understanding the Principal
Suppose a security professional possesses the requisite education, training, and technical abilities, is that enough to work with anyone? Hardly. Apart from these aptitudes, an executive protection agent must maintain a trusted advisor relationship with the principal.
For one, the person on the receiving end of protective services may be reluctant to have someone follow them around 24/7. In fact, certain CEOs accept to have security personnel around only because their board of directors has specific demands in this regard. Likewise, other high-ranking individuals have diverse expectations. Therefore, an EP agent should adapt to their principal to make them feel comfortable and accept protection.
Of course, the best conceivable security scenario would probably entail having the principal:
- Cancel all public appearances,
- Ride in a fully armored vehicle, and
- Rarely leave their fortress compounds.
Obviously, such draconian security measures are not sustainable, nor acceptable by most executives. Security measures must balance the weight and burden of security against the accepted risk and lifestyle of the principal. The EP specialist must build trust and professional rapport through open, honest and respectful conversation.
Finally, EP must be counted on to facilitate and support the principal’s well-being and success. Perhaps the soundest way to understand the principal is to become intimately involved with their personal schedules, travel arrangements, and lifestyle.
Taking a Bullet
For the second core trait, let us address the elephant in the room. Should an executive protection agent take a bullet for their principal? The simple answer is Yes, but it’s more complicated than that. A wounded or dead agent can’t protect his principal any longer.
Undoubtedly, most professionals in this area will jump to take the bullet for their principal without giving it a second thought because of the trained and developed instinct to protect others.
In most cases, there are many things the executive protection agent could have done to prevent such a terrible scenario. Some of them include:
- Conducting an advance,
- Doing a thorough CARVER vulnerability and risk assessment,
- Surveillance detection, and
- Attack cycle interruption.
In other words, the EP specialist must proactively do everything in their power to prevent an attack on principals. Protection is a function of deterrence, detection, avoidance and evacuation.
Often called precious principals, children and teenagers require hiring someone prolific in verbal communication and experience with children. It is one thing to talk to an adult and an entirely different endeavor to have a chat with a 10-year-old.
For starters, the executive protection agent assigned to safeguard children must have the emotional intelligence to be trusted by a child while maintaining appropriate relationship boundaries.
Secondly, working on a security detail of this kind could mean having to:
- Provide overwatch at a public playground,
- Be a good listener without judgement or comment,
- Be friendly and approachable without being friends,
- Play sports with the children, and
- Manage toys, diapers, and accessories.
Additionally, other dicey issues could arise. For example, EP agents may need to consider behavioral questions and disciplinary problems. A rule of thumb here is to take the matter to the parent. However, this may often not be feasible due to their busy schedule.
Finally, protecting children poses many other challenges and could result in the principal blaming the agent for the kid's poor behavior.
For this article, we focused on the three core traits of a proficient executive protection agent. Of course, there are others that we shall address in new editions of our blog. However, those we mention here speak to the irreplaceable abilities that any EP specialist must have to provide custom-made services.
In a nutshell, an executive protection agent must:
- Understand and address the principal's needs, wants, and expectations,
- Establish a trusted advisor relationship with protectees by blending with their lifestyles and personal habits,
- Be able to adjust communication styles to fit the environment, like conversing with children, teenagers, wives, and others.
Adopting these three points can help anyone choose a proficient executive protection firm for their everyday life.
Bedrock Special Projects provides peace of mind by implementing intelligence-driven protection to benefit prominent individuals, their families, and corporations. Unobtrusive, behind the scenes, but always present when needed. The Art of Executive Protection – Delivered with Elegance by Design.
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