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Executive Protection Academy

Executive Protection Academy

It is true that executives "Don't Understand?"

It is surprising to many to discover that in the field of Executive Protection, one of the main threats comes from the executives themselves. It is they, through their actions, lifestyle and perception of security, who increase their own risks by often ignoring the security recommendations provided by their protectors.

I have been working for more than 25 years in the executive protection sector in Mexico and LATAM, operating and also training. The most frequent phrase I have heard from protectors, escort chiefs and also from some security directors is: "EXECUTIVES DO NOT UNDERSTAND".

We can hear this phrase over and over again in operatives, courses and consultancies that we are giving. Hearing these words for so many years and so often from so many different people and in so many different countries, we can come to only one conclusion: "Executives are the most intellectually limited part of the world's population because of their inability to generalized basic reasoning".

However, here something definitely does not add up: If executives were so devoid of reason, how have they been so successful in creating, directing or growing companies that are locomotives of the world economy? So no, it is not true that executives do not know how to reason, as the opposite is evident.

 

When we have this problem, it is much easier to blame the customer and feel good about it, even feel superior, because we are the ones who know and understand the things that these great men and women do not understand. This is something very favorable for our ego, but very bad for the job, since it does not bring any value, it does not solve any problem. Even the fact that the executive raises his own risks puts us, the protectors, at risk.

It is time to accept the hard reality, which indeed costs work (and also the ego), but once accepted it takes us to another level as professionals: It is not true that the executive does not understand, but that we do not know how to communicate and persuade him effectively. Our work and training is usually focused on different combat techniques, whether with weapons or empty hands, movie-like vehicular maneuvers and other activities that we generally never use in our work life. Many protectors even come into their roles fresh out of the police and military, with no specialized training in executive protection. So they receive virtually no training in communication and persuasion, skills that our profession requires on a daily basis.

Executives understand perfectly well, we just haven't put the principles of Executive Protection under the scrutiny of their often brilliant intellect.

Of course, in order to be able to effectively present the principles of executive protection to a client at this level, we must first of all know and master them very well, something that unfortunately few protectors actually achieve. A large number of agents and even protection managers have sometimes been doing repetitive work for decades, which has never been tested, generally developed empirically and with little specialized training. It is very difficult for these colleagues to stand up to the executive and submit to his scrutiny when trying to convince him. Add to this little training in persuasion techniques, and the result can be counterproductive.

It is not surprising that executives "don't understand", as even I myself had a totally wrong perception of executive protection before I got involved in it. Once you have the right information, presented in a logical way, the protectees understand perfectly well. In these 25 years of working with them, they have given me very valuable proposals once they have received useful information to process.

So the first step for the executive to "understand" is for the protector to know executive protection in depth, beyond the empirical. This, in turn, establishes the first principle of persuasion, which is the principle of authority. Likewise, it is key that the protector has a fluent language that the protégé understands, since talking about threats and risks is technical security language and must be "translated" into executive language, which is much more pragmatic and oriented to profits, losses and general corporate terminology. Another major principle of persuasion is empathy, as the protector must be perceived as someone similar, with whom the protégé can identify in some aspect. Therefore, terminology and language must flow. The search for points of identification is key to persuasion. Once this initial rapport is established, the executive is open to receiving appropriate communication using many other ethical persuasion techniques (which are beyond the scope of this article) and collaborating positively in his or her own protection.

Sure, there is always what we call "the impossible executive," the person you really can't work with (and therefore shouldn't work with either), but in our experience, they are in the vast minority.

One of the main reasons why, in Mexico alone in the last 18 months, we have had 16 executives murdered and 31 of their escorts, is the lack of knowledge of the basic principles of executive protection, both on the part of the executives and on the part of the escorts themselves. By knowing the principles well and knowing how to communicate them to the executive, we will make our profession safer for both the protectees and the protectors.

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