In this short article, I intend to highlight the importance of Emotional Intelligence (EI) for professional Executive Protection Operatives/ Bodyguards and how knowing Where, When and How it can impact their career.
In today’s lifestyle and business dynamics solving emotion related problems is equally crucial in both personal and professional settings. In a professional context, we deal with complex problems and must work as a team in order to provide the most efficient solutions for our Principals or Clients. Our efficiency and professionalism will be not based on the background, position or title. It will be based on our personal level of Emotional intelligence and as a team.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
There are many books and articles out there about this subject, but I will give you a very brief description of the EI. According to Daniel Goleman psychologist, one of the American pioneers on this subject.
Emotional intelligence (EI) is quality or skill to understand your own emotions and to stay in control of them. Also, to be aware, how different emotions can impact your relationship with colleagues, associates, superiors, business partners and clients.
According to Goldman there are five core elements of the emotional intelligence and they are as follows:
- 1. Self-awareness.
- 2. Self-regulation.
- 3. Motivation.
- 4. Empathy.
- 5. Social skills.
I will try very briefly to explain from my point of view, how those five core elements of EI can make us better and successful in our trade craft.
As EP operatives, we all know, situational awareness is one of the most important tools in our armory. Many colleagues of ours have written articles for the importance of this essential skill, but here we will look at the self-awareness which is not less important especially for our development as professionals.
Having a high level of self-awareness as a professional means that you have a clear vision of your strengths and weakness. This honest self-appraisal will help us to understand where we are at, where we want to be and how to get there. Having a realistic vision about ourselves will enable us to utilize our strengths and to improve and develop our weaknesses.
As no one knows everything, sometimes we need to ask for help to develop our weak sides and there is nothing wrong or embarrassing with that. The embarrassment comes when we pretend that we know all of it and then it becomes evident that we did not ask for help when we needed it.
Finally, if we are self-aware, we will have a clear understanding of how our emotions and actions will impact the people around us (co-workers, clients and Principals, etc.) This will help us to avoid any unwanted situations and build a good report with all involved parties in any operation.
Self-regulation or my preferred term Self-control.
As protection professionals, we should have a high level of self-control or as I like to say: If you cannot control yourself, you cannot be expected to control a situation.
As professionals we should avoid any verbal confrontations with members of the public, colleagues and principals or clients. From personal experience, I can ensure you, it will not lead to anything productive in a long term.
As we work in a very dynamic environment with demanding clients and principals on many occasions, heated situations are not unusual. We must deal with them in the most diplomatic and rational approach if we are aiming to achieve a positive and productive outcome.
As we all know there is, unfortunately, too much EGO involved in our industry. If we do not manage to get in control of it, which on some occasions can be very challenging, in the long term, we can find ourselves isolated and unwanted by the colleagues, Principals, clients or business partners. Ego is the worst enemy of our professional and business development so get a grip on it.
Self-motivated Executive Protection professionals work continuously towards their self-development, which is the shortest way to a successful career or business venture.
According to Jack Canfield, a success coach, there are five signs that you are a self-motivated learner:
- You learn because you WANT to, not because you think you “HAVE” to.
- You are willing to admit that you don’t know everything.
- You’re willing to take bigger risks – and get bigger results.
- You’re more likely to finish what you start.
- You’re always two steps ahead of the pack.
Self-motivated professionals are not afraid to challenge themselves by going outside of their comfort zone. By doing this, we will expand our knowledge, and we can increase our productivity and efficiency. We will have more confidence when dealing with emergency (unexpected) situations, and we find it easier to push our boundaries and unlock our creativity.
Every time we face a challenging situation or even a failure (which is part of life as no one is perfect), we must analyse and self-reflect to see what we can learn from it. Every failure provides a learning opportunity and acts at the best teacher if we are intelligent enough to learn from it.
As EP professionals, we should have a high level of empathy. This skill or quality will give us the opportunity to put ourselves in the shoes of our principals or clients and have a better understanding of their needs, wishes and point of view. Having these insights into their needs will make it easier for us, as protectors, to manage and cover their expectations and requirements.
Having this understanding will prove very important as on many occasions, our principals or clients have a completely different views on how the operation should be run and there is nothing wrong with that. They have their perspective and we as EP professionals we have ours. The biggest mistake is when we take our clients or principals perspective in a defensive manner and personally. On so many occasions in my career Ive heard from operators “ He/ She needs to leave me to do my job. I am the professional here and he/she is trying to teach me how to do my job.” Very often this statement inspired not by lack of knowledge or experience, but by a lack of empathy and understanding of different perspectives.
As professionals we should have or work towards developing a high level of empathy which will give us better understand of our client’s or principals point of view. Only then we would be able to fulfil their requirements and fulfil their expectations. This guarantees an outstanding service and satisfaction for our clients.
The easiest thing for all of us is to highlight the mistakes of other operators without trying to help them to develop and get better. This can be short term win for some who want to highlight his “professionalism” on someone else back. This is NOT professional, and in long term will be recognized by the colleagues and industry and will affect your reputation.
Exercising empathy towards our team members and helping them to overcome their weak performances by mentoring and guidance will improve their performance, confidence and whole team performance. In the long term, our empathetic approach will establish us as influential professionals who will be welcome in any team.
Social skills are the skills we use to communicate and interact with each other, both verbally and non-verbally, through gestures, body language and our personal appearance. As professionals working mainly in an executive environment this skill set its vital for our efficiency and ability to build productive relationships with our colleagues, clients and principals.
Operators who have mastered their social skills are usually very successful in their career and there are a few reasons why. They are generally excellent communicators and can handle good and bad situations alike. This allows them to build a good rapport with all involved parties and become natural leaders and influencers regardless of their role in the company or operations as well as contributing in a constructive manner towards the completion of any operation/task. They are good listeners which allows them to build a better relationship with all stakeholders and clients. They are very good diplomats which allows them to deal with all challenging situations in professional manner minimizing the negative impacts over the clients/ principal and company reputation.
By listing all these qualities of effective communicators, we can agree that an EP operator with these skills would be a great asset to any company, team or client.
Knowing Where, When and How is nothing else then EI. The higher level is your EI the easier will be to achieve your professional goals, be a highly efficient operator or very successful a business owner.
By listing those five core elements of emotional intelligence and their impact, I hope I have managed to tick the boxes on how to become an exceptional operator, colleague and a business owner.
According to Goleman, one key benefit is that “emotional intelligence can help people make better decisions.” This crucial skill will give us the opportunity to increase our effectiveness as operators or business owners.
Understanding and developing our EI can have a constructive impact on our operational abilities as well as business efficiencies. Furthermore, if we aspire to develop as natural leaders and influencers, it is even more important to develop our emotional intelligence. Our understanding of our own emotions and the ability to pick up on others’ emotional indications can naturally place us in this advantageous position.
According to Ann Holland PhD in her article for Forbes from 17 April 2019 we can develop and improve our EI by following these steps:
- Be an active listener, including being aware of nonverbal cues.
- Think before you speak; continuously work on improving communication skills.
- Be comfortable with praising others.
- Accept, value and appreciate others for their uniqueness.
- Learn conflict resolution skills.
- Demonstrate patience and empathy.
- Manage your own stress; slow down and calm down.
- Get to know your employees and peers; know what challenges them and soothes them.
- Identify and manage what triggers your own emotions.
- Identify and manage what triggers your co-workers’ emotions.
- Don’t be shy about engaging with a mentor, coach or other resources for help.
Developing and improving our emotional intelligence is an ongoing process and not a one-off action that can be ticked off the a list of skills to have. If we want to be on the top of our game, we have developed ourselves continuously emotionally as well as professionally.
As a freelance professional operating, mainly in high-end executive environments and having the opportunity to work with many different people, teams and clients, I've realised that, in the long term, emotional intelligence is the foundation of any successful Executive Protection Operator.
Knowing Where, When and How is simply well-developed emotional intelligence . The higher level is your EI the easier you will to be achieving your professional goals, becoming a highly efficient operator or very successful business owner.
Thank you for reading.
Written by: R.Savkov BA, MSyI, M.ISRM
Oxford Protection Services
Freelance Security Consultant/ Personal Protection Specialist
Goleman, Daniel, 1995, Emotional Intelligence, Why it can matter more than the IQ.
Stephen R. Covey, 1999, The 7 habits of highly effective people.
Ann Holland PhD, Forbes, Apr 17, 2019, 07:00am
The Emotional Intelligence Factor In Leadership Development