We asked several professional bodyguards working in Sydney what essential skills are needed to be successful in this industry and what differentiates a good bodyguard from an elite one. These are their responses:
Be a Team Player.
Professional bodyguard services are typically provided in teams. While it is common for some clients to have just one long term bodyguard that they get to know and to trust, there is often a support team around them and they are usually supplied by a professional company that has many other value-added services as part of the contract. Many jobs entail working with other professionals short term and being a valued member of the team with one objective – protect your principal. Those bodyguards who work well as a team quickly become known as professionals who are easy to work with and more importantly can be trusted with the lives of the clients and other team members.
Be able to think rationally in fluid situations.
Making valuable (potentially life-saving) decisions while your environment is rapidly changing around you is a skill that comes from situational experience, learning how to assess threats accurately and judgement that security veterans refer to as skills that cannot be taught. It is well recognised that an effective and efficient bodyguard is not only highly skilled but also possess natural ability, common sense and good judgement. Examples of this type of critical thinking occur regularly whenever there are crowd based threats. In 2012, the then prime minister Julia Gillard and then opposition leader Tony Abbot had to rushed from an awards ceremony after Aboriginal Tent Embassy protestors tried to storm the event. Such occurrences can happen quickly and it is often left up to the immediate responsibility of the close protection officers (bodyguards) to ensure that the principal is kept safe from harm is a situation that become overwhelming in an instant.
Be able to communicate effectively.
Anyone working as a bodyguard professionally will know that being able to communicate effectively with people from all walks of life is a mandatory part of the job. Those bodyguards that can’t do this as well as others are effectively being neglectful in their role and potentially introducing unnecessary risk. If you cannot communicate effectively with your team or those you have been assigned to work with then you are not doing your job well. A professional bodyguard must be able to speak with (and on some level be able to influence) government officials, foreign dignitaries, hotel staff, punters in a crowd and other security personnel. It is also well recognised that a successful bodyguard will have very good communications skills. Ultimately, these skills are required to ensure that the client is kept safe.
If you ever have the opportunity to work for celebrities or famous people, think of the risks they are taking by introducing you into their lives. They are essentially giving you access that media agencies and gossip mags would pay dearly for. You will often become privy to their secrets, how they function as a family, embarrassing habits or information that could be easily sold. If you ever on sell information or break the trust of the people you are working for, you will probably only get to do it once. It is unlikely you will ever get hired by anyone to that type of job again.
Part of being professional is being discrete and the money you are being paid is primarily for security services, but it is also for your silence.