I receive resumes frequently, and sadly the information contained is usually focusing on hard skills rather than soft skills and plenty of irrelevance, focusing on firearms and martial arts experience, do not mistake me, a protector that can handle himself/herself is of paramount importance, as is physical fitness, however an MMA and weapons enthusiast is more of a deterrent for many potential employers in the private sector, as it deems the prospective employee as someone more inclined to be offensive rather than defensive.
The defensive behaviour can break a negative cycle/situation if composure and level headedness is maintained. Offensive behaviour of a person is the source of a negative cycle that involves stress, tension, and agitation between both parties.
The truth is, any time a principal is actually in need of sheer muscle (a people mover) means that someone was not using their brain in the first instance. And that someone could be you, if you only think that this industry is about weight-lifting, sheer size, and carrying a firearm, think again.
A successful protector will spend the majority of his or her time and effort anticipating potential problems rather than looking for them, or causing them.
The protector manages to keep the individual protected, whether a high-profile client or the lead singer of a band, out of harm’s way by preparing for every possible scenario. The time spent on working out at the gym is of no value, if a protector does not understand the importance of these soft skills and mandatory personal traits.
Ability to avoid and deflect confrontation, if your energy and focus is on a physical confrontation with a threat, your principal will potentially be unprotected from others.
Advance work, knowing the location the principal is visiting, knowing emergency exits, knowing the venue/location security director or manager, planning the route.
The ability to follow directions clearly and to communicate clearly, politely and in a concise manner.
Detail oriented, always planning and thinking ahead of time.
Ability to “blend” in with others, thereby drawing less attention to yourself and furthermore less notice to your principal.
Discretion, meaning, don’t share ANY personal information regarding your client with anyone (including photos in their cars which you don’t own, or on a private jet of which you are not travelling on).
In executive protection, 98% is done with your head and your mouth, protective security is a defensive job, this is done by doing research, planning, identifying threats and mitigating risk.
What defines a professional?
Always be punctual (at least 30 minutes early).
Be immaculately and appropriately dressed.
Fully understand, and can implement ''Situational Awareness''.
Do not out-dress the Principal (ever).
Always maintain the highest standards of personal hygiene (do not wear aftershave or perfume).
Be tactful and diplomatic.
Maintain a calm and confident temperament.
Remember you are a protector, not a servant (but this does not mean you should not carry a bag or umbrella if the situation permits you to do so).
Blend in and be anonymous (depending on the task).
If you think you have said the wrong thing, you have said the wrong thing.
Give the Principal space whenever possible (operate without intrusion always).
Speak when spoken to, unless you need to communicate a necessary command/request to the principal.
Silence is golden (know when to keep your mouth shut at all times).
Don’t lie, be honest and don’t talk rubbish.
Don’t make idle conversations (the client is not interested in war stories, how quick you can disarm a hand grenade, or who you looked after previously).
Don’t ‘’listen’’ to private conversations (you will need to determine and adapt to personal space often).
Be prepared, or you must be prepared to fail always (Advanced Planning is vital).
Be forward thinking – one step ahead of the game always.
Time spent on reconnaissance is never wasted time (Guaranteed).
Always be prepared to communicate, negotiate and compromise.
Practice empathetic assertiveness always.
If the Principal leaves late, then they arrive late (important factor to note, who must be informed of this?).
Be assertive and decisive.
Be prepared to justify decisions on a regular basis and be prepared to document all of them.
Do not lose your temper as you will instantly lose the argument, and your job.
Avoid the over-familiarity trap (too frequently this occurs).
Always maintain a professional relationship with the Principal.
Strong IT skills (any professional will be documenting his day, in the form of reports and expenses, the principal and their management may request these from you).
Don’t drink alcohol or smoke on duty (this occurs within the over-familiarity trap usually).
Perception, Comprehension, Projection
The perception of environmental elements and events with respect to time and space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their status, after some variable has changed, such as time, or predetermined event.
To be able to perceive the status, attributes, and dynamics of a situation or event, relevant to the elements in an environment, in the most basic of ways. In layman’s terms, this is where the process of monitoring, cue detection, and simple recognition of situational elements like people, locations, conditions, and actions.
Here is where you have to be able to perceive a threat by monitoring your surroundings and by monitoring your environment, you develop your skills of detection, or an action that someone may take to deter your attention. Also, your recognition of that cue and to what that cue is telling you about the elements that you are surrounded by at that time.
This involves the process of pattern recognition, interpretation, and evaluation. So, taking this and integrating it with perception, you will now learn to interpret and comprehend the information you’re seeing, and understand how it may affect your operation. So now you have perceived a potential issue or threat, or have you?
Being able to recognize a pattern being displayed (an angry individual when everyone else is happy) and interpreting that action and evaluating, how said individual is acting.
The highest level and probably the one that most protectors try to perform on a daily basis. This involves the ability to project the future actions of the elements in the environment.
This would be people, places and things. This can only be achieved if your understanding of both perception and projection are understood. Projection takes a lot of practice, digesting, thinking and visualising information, moving forward in time to determine the outcome or the effect it will have on your environment operationally, is mission critical. If you project wrong, you could cause a significant risk to the client.
Situational Awareness, are merely phrases without the proper foundation and the unmitigated understanding of the foundation make-up of those terms.
Awareness is a choice, you have to choose to pay attention. Being able to distinguish what is normal from abnormal is NOT inherent, it takes practice as it relates to Executive Protection.
As you learn these techniques try not to rely on the concentric rings of protection, and then making your assessments of a given situation. By this I mean, don’t rely on concentric rings of security because it can lull you into a false sense of awareness therefore, lowering your efficiency.
As you adapt your skills, treat every disturbance as a potential threat until you are comfortable with your information assessment intake and the information you gather from them. If your attention is drawn to a certain event, make a quick assessment to include all of these steps quickly, and then assess the rest of your environment to see what, if anything, you are missing.
As some industry leaders have shown and continue to prove with their mastery of these skills, the appearance that they have in certain environments are just soft skills that have been mastered over time. In the times that we live in today, and the threats we all face as protectors, we cannot afford to be complacent.
So, if you hear these terms used again by a peer, hopefully they will also understand how vital the foundations of these words are. otherwise, Situational awareness is just a phrase without practice, and useless without understanding.
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