The primary role of an executive protection (EP) service is to provide safety and security to their principals (clients) as well as providing an environment where their principal can be more productive with less stress . This entails certain hard skills; the physical services provided by close protection officers. These skills are usually the only aspect covered in many close protection courses. They are important in routine activities and vital in emergencies that put life and safety in danger. Skills that fall under this category include:
- Planning protection missions
- Evasive / defensive driving
- Handling and use of firearms
- Unarmed combat techniques
- Emergency medical response
Hostile situations require the knowledge and expertise of trained EP professionals. This knowledge is gained through executive protection courses and training. It also takes years of experience to master and perfect.
The importance of hard skills is obvious in the executive protection industry. Most people know and understand the basics of what hard skills entail. However, the soft skills of executive protection are frequently overlooked. These skills are just as vital as hard skills, and in fact are put to greater practise.
What are Soft Skills?
Soft skills are the skills less tangible and harder to quantify. These are often overlooked as simply the characteristics of an individual and therefore excluded from many executive protection courses.
- Problem solving abilities
- Time management
- Work ethic
- Listening and engaging in small tal
These characteristics are the difference between a successfully completed mission with excellence and exceptional service, and one without. These underlying skills help to assist principals in living their lives normally, while under close protection. As EP is a demanding and stressful job, these skills help to make their own lives a little easier too.
Widening Your Circle of Assistance
One of the most important soft skills an EP professional can learn is how to network or “make friends” in strategic places. Having good social skills will come in handy for more than just communicating with principals.
When on the job, it is inevitable that EP professionals will encounter other people. These people could be a part of the surrounding area or interacting directly with a principal.
Having good social skills will help to ensure that these people are on your side. It is a force multiplier in the effort of ensuring safety and security.
For example, ensuring a good working relationship with the principal’s personal assistant will provide the protection team with more information. This includes things like possible travel details ahead of time which assists the team greatly in travel planning.
Another example is when the principal is located at a site where there is additional security and emergency resources. While these resources have been vetted and cleared in terms of security procedures, it takes skill be to be able to direct them. It is important to know how far you can push your influence without official authority.
This includes using a network of developed resources to alert you to any trouble or potential danger. You therefore maximise security efforts and make protection more effective.
EP professionals with good social skills and emotional intelligence will be able to read people and their intentions better. This gives them the ability to make better and quicker decisions when necessary.
Having the Correct Image
Executive protection individuals often correspond with the elite community. With high profile principals, interactions such as these require certain etiquette. EP professionals should have the skills to address people of authority correctly. They should know to use appropriate language and stay polite at all times.
Good hygiene and following a dress code is a must. Knowing the difference between black tie, business casual and casual and what the specific environment requires is essential. This becomes even more important when conducting low profile or even covert protection details.
How Do These Skills Impact Business Value?
In a corporate environment, soft skills will affect the value a principal will get out of his or her time. This is because normal tasks become easier and more convenient with the presence of an EP professional. These tasks will then save the company both time and money.
Ease of Travel
Travelling takes up plenty of company time and money. A high profile executive on the road is also a safety concern. It is the responsibility of the company to ensure duty of care for these executives and any employee traveling on business. Having the added benefits that come with a good EP solution means travel comes far easier. The CPO will take care of travel logistics like monitoring bookings, checking flight statuses and assisting principals with any travel problems. This is so that the principal has a smooth travel experience without unexpected delays. Therefore, the principal spends less unproductive time in potentially vulnerable places. This equals more productive time for the principal, and where possible reduced risk.
Unexpected Extra Value
Executive protection should always be inherently service-minded. This means having CPOs who put your needs over their own. The job directly correlates with taking care of the principal’s every need. This means that over and above protection, you’ll get increased productivity and comfort and overall well-being.
Executive protection solutions offer principals much more than just security. The soft skills of the job make a difference. This not only affects principals themselves, but can also benefit the entire company as a result. If you are interested in the potential business value executive protection could provide you, contact Arcangel for more.