The Alpha Male Trait in Executive Protection

Playing Well With Others

by Elijah Shaw

The 2011 Grammy Awards is a very prestigious event.  Every A-List celebrity you can think of in the entertainment industry; musicians, actors, models, but more importantly decision makers, shot callers and handlers are in attendance.  For the Security Professional operating in the celebrity arena, it’s the equivalent of your team going to the super bowl – It likely took hard work to get there, it raises your profile, but the stakes are dramatically higher.  In addition there’s the added pressure that, as opposed to working one on one, with your Principal you are now moving your client in an environment where he or she may not be the most famous person in the room.  Things may take a little longer to happen, there are additional security procedures that apply to everyone and the undivided attention and assistance you once got from support staff is now splintered.  In short your VIP is now one Very Important Person amongst many.

The problem I see too many in our industry make when faced with this situation is that instead of adapting, we try and throw their weight around.   We become belligerent to the PA’s (personal assistants) who are in charge with navigating us around the event.  We become acrimonious with law enforcement that has been given strict orders that in a place where “everybody is somebody “ all need to submit to security screening. Most telling of all, we sometimes treat our counterparts working close protection as adversaries as opposed to allies.

It’s that last point that I’ve found so fascinating in my many years in the industry.  While I fully acknowledge that a contributing factor to success as a bodyguard is the “Alpha Male” Personality, I’ve never understood why when you put more than 3 of us in a room who are not on a detail together you can see territorial lines being drawn almost as clearly as if they were written with crayon.

Now don’t get me wrong there are definite exceptions to this rule (I try hard to consider myself one of them).  There are some great guys and gals in the industry that every time I see them it’s an opportunity to combine intel and share resources.  When on an event similar in scope to the Grammy’s we provide introductions to key staff and alert each other to any security or logistical problems.  But more often than not, I see agents eyeing each other with suspicion and barley veiled contempt.  You can almost hear their thoughts out loud:

“How did this guy get that client? I’m so much better than he is.”

“That’s not how you escort the Principal, diamond formations always work better than box.”

“This guy is standing too close to my client’s door, is he trying to steal my client”?

I know this situation is not unique to the Celebrity Protection market.  My associates that operate in some of the more hostile areas of the world tell me about protection teams sizing each other up all the time.  Of course the stakes are different when you’re in Iraq or Papa New Guinea.  The point I’m trying to make is: Think how much could be accomplished if  simply we adjusted our mindset that other EP Agents and event staff were all working for the same goal – The safeguarding of the individuals inside that collective circle of protection.    Sometimes those rings will overlap and when they do, I’ll look at others providing services not as nuisances but as brothers (or sisters) at arms dealing with their own set of challenges.  I believe that an attitude like this will pay back in dividends in the long run.

Read the full story in The Circuit – The Magazine for Bodyguards by ordering HERE.

5 thoughts on “The Alpha Male Trait in Executive Protection”

  1. This is a great article sir. I’ve been in the security field for fifteen years, most as security officer. I’ve also had a few breaks as a psd member. Club security and just about everything I could think of and do to survive. Granted I’m not in the certified circle YET!, But I know and agree with you. Even down here at the low end of protection so to speak, the same thing goes on. We are all after the same goal, Protection of our charge is PARAMOUNT!

  2. Great article! Had to laugh out loud a few times when I actually remembered incidents that you so greatly described…especially when I saw the territorial lines being drawn, somewhere backstage when a few artists are getting together and the security get closer….welldone!!!

  3. Great article, right on point. Like you said there are too many people who see their peers as adversaries vs. allies. You see all the anatomy discussions going on in peoples minds – mine is bigger than yours. As it pertains for people trying to jockey to get close to my client they fail to realize they are damaging their own integrity, because the client as well as yourself will realize you are a person who can be compromised. Threats can come from both inside outside of the business so we always say aware, but the last thing we should be doing is turning our noses up at our peers. Stay aware, stay focused and stay safe! My God watch over all of you who watch over others!

  4. Elijah,I so agree with this article. You are correct with your description of the behavior of some bodyguards there. I worked the 2011 Grammys and I am here to tell everyone that you are right..

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