There are a number of mental attributes that protective services agents should adhere to in order to perform their job to the maximum effectiveness. One of the most important of these attributes is what is called emotional stability (June 2008). Essentially, this means that a protection agent must be able to keep a calm and cool head at all times, so that he or she may both make rational decisions, often in a split second, at all times, and also because these agents have a professional reputation they must uphold. Another important mental attribute is leadership. This is because agents oftentimes act as the focal point of authority in escorts, especially in dangerous situations (June 2008). Oftentimes, this leadership means the agent must be able to make difficult decisions quickly and be able to weigh the potential risks versus the benefits of any given action. The third important attribute they must possess is inner directedness. This means they should constantly push their own boundaries and go above and beyond the call of duty in every scenario. It also means being assertive as the situation calls for it. Lastly, the personal protection specialist must have a warm, relatable personality, allowing himself to laugh at his own mistakes as well as those of others. This allows the agent to freely and easily interact with both those he or she is charged with protecting and everyday citizens.
From an ethical perspective, the job of protection agents can be extremely difficult, as the line between safety and paranoia can oftentimes be foggy. Thus, there are certain codes of ethics that should be followed at all times by these agents to ensure ethical actions at all times. One of these is the vow to responsibly manage the security, safety, health, and well-being of those they are tasked with protecting at all costs, pledging even their life, if necessary (June 2008). Another important ethic is to treat all persons with dignity and respect, even those persons the agent deems suspicious. This applies to personal property of others as well. A protection agent should also act as objectively and diligently as possible, keeping personal feelings from interfering with their work. The agent should also establish procedures that minimally interfere with the client's lifestyle and routine, as the client takes priority in all situations, and oftentimes this vow involves not acting in a way that will draw attention and thus break that routine. Finally, a protection agent must uphold a high ethical and moral standard, as personal protection specialists do have a reputation of honor, integrity, and security that must be upheld at all times.
A job as a protection agent is oftentimes extremely malleable. That is to say, the situation can change very quickly and without warning. For this reason, it is necessary for each protection agent to practice critical thinking and decision-making skills so as to prepare for these unforeseen eventualities and make the best possible decision based on the circumstances. Critical thinking, the process of asking questions and employing reasoning, is perhaps the most important mental exercise a protection agent can utilize (June 2008). Critical thinking allows the agent to view a particular situation from a number of perspectives, thereby being able to more easily "see" the consequences of his or her actions in any given scenario by using his or her imagination (June 2008). This mental analysis of a situation allows the protection agent to mentally prepare for a multitude of situations in advance, so that they may be able to quickly analyze and make a judgment based on the remaining random factors in a situation. Decision making is a skill that is closely related to critical thinking, yet different in a few crucial ways. Decision making, quite simply, is the process of gathering as much information as possible about a given situation and quickly making a judgment call for that situation using this data (June, 2008). However, there is a great deal of preparation that goes into decision making, and each individual decision requires weighing the attributes of action or inaction. For example, the agent must weigh if the action or inaction he or she would take would cause beneficial or harmful consequences, be instant or delayed, obvious or subtle, or physical or emotional in nature (June 2008). These considerations are difficult to make in a fast-paced scenario normally, but mental training and preparation in advance make the process much easier when the time comes.
Agreeing to the job of personal protection agent is a difficult proposition, but one way to help decide is to examine the close personal protection team member self-assessment survey, which asks a number of questions about the nature of the work. Perhaps the most jarring of these questions is simple: "Would you be willing to sacrifice your life to save someone else's? Why?" (June 2008). This simple question encapsulates the job of personal protection specialist perfectly: it is the art of giving 100% of one's mind, body, and soul to protecting the life of another, and these personal protection specialists must understand and realize this. Another question is equally simple: "why do you want to protect someone?" (June 2008). Again, this question encapsulates the job of protection agent as it requires them to assess and answer their primary purpose of the job. While one's personal purpose will differ from agent to agent, the point here is that, whatever the reason, the agent must feel strongly about it, as this conviction will allow them to perform their job much more effectively.
Question 1: Why is it important for an executive protection agent to be able to “get lost in a crowd”?
The ability to blend into a crowd is useful for a number of reasons. Primarily, this ability allows the protection agent to monitor and oversee the principal from a perfectly safe location: hidden in plain sight. Furthermore, blending into a crowd will allow the protection agent freedom to enter and exit the crowd as he or she sees fit, so that, for example, he or she can monitor the principal if they are kidnapped without risk of the agent himself being spotted.
Question 2: Why should you not brag and talk about previous assignments?
This question is simple: a protection agent should be as discreet as possible at all times, even when merely discussing business with a potential client. The less a principal knows about a protection agent, other than that they will do their job well, the better, and ideally, the principal should be scarcely aware of the agent's existence period unless the principal is in need of something. There is also safety to consider, as disclosing details about previous assignments could allow other listeners to glean details about the agent's methods and possibly expose weaknesses in technique, which would represent a passive security threat for future assignments.
June, D. (2008). Introduction to executive protection, 2nd Ed. CRC Press. 255-315, 397.