People often wonder: what are the characteristics of a good bodyguard? There are as many characteristics as there are different reasons for why people may want to employ a bodyguard. It may be a celebrity wanting protection or possibly just to look good as an “image thing.” Or it may be a high net worth executive or maybe a dignitary or royalty that has a genuine threat against them or their family. Whatever the role, the bodyguard’s qualities and characteristics will be crucial to the job.
To begin, a bodyguard may be called to:
- Create & maintain a sterile zone around the Principal/s
- Ensure no loss or damage occurs to Principal’s property
- Project the desired image required by the Principal/s
There are several “stereotypical” characteristics of a bodyguard that the uneducated would expect to see as it may have been drilled into them through dramatization and Hollywood films.
Even today some people still think that all bodyguards wear suits and sunglasses 24/7 when they are working whether they are on a beach or in the Arctic Circle! This obviously is not the case and is most certainly not practical.
There are lots of different types of bodyguard that can be employed in a multitude of different ways; some have their employment dictated to them through their physical size and appearance.
A perfect example of this would be the six foot five muscle bound or possibly a large overweight bodyguard whom has a huge presence, who stands out and is noticed by all around. There are situations when this kind of overt presence is preferable and times when the more discreet bodyguard who can blend in is preferred. Either way there is a place for both types of bodyguard and it is entirely dependent on whom the Principal is and the kind of image that they wish to project. The bigger bodyguard may not be suitable looking after a Principal whom wishes to go running for an hour every morning, if this is the case with your Principal then you need to be physically fit enough to be able to do this and not someone who will start lagging behind and unable to react should something occur en-route.
A bodyguard should have good situational awareness, a sharp eye and be constantly scanning his surroundings. It is this quality that may identify and stop a would-be attacker or assassin before an assault begins. It is far better to be pro-active than reactive. Threat avoidance is the key and if you can “nip a problem in the bud” or spot a situation before it happens then you are doing your job correctly!
The last thing your Principal wants to see is his/her bodyguard rolling around on the floor with a “would be attacker”, this could potentially cause huge embarrassment to your Principal especially in a day an age when every one has camera phones and when there is paparazzi around every corner waiting for that “dream shot”. This coupled with the fact that if you are rolling around on the floor you are also lowering the protection afforded to your Principal as you are otherwise engaged. Who is looking after your Principal now?
This is of course just one scenario and you may well have a team of guys/girls so one deals with the threat whilst another team member extracts the Principal from danger, but there are many times when you may be working one-to-one with a Principal so your senses need to be more finely tuned which will then help you to spot things before they happen. This ability to think on your feet, show initiative and be able to make good decisions quickly in potentially dangerous situations is a fundamental quality of the modern bodyguard.
Self-confidence is another essential quality of a bodyguard; if you are not confident in your own ability then neither will your Principal be in your care. The way you carry and project yourself when entering a room with your Principal should put them at ease. A bodyguard who looks like he is confident in his own ability is a great deterrent to any “would be attacker”, this alone may ward the attacker off enough to make them think twice and go look for an easier target.
You will find that as a bodyguard you will spend lots of time in the public eye whether that be standing alongside celebrities, high worth businessmen or be it in the political arena. With this being the case you must be comfortable, know how to act and adapt to the many different situations that may be presented to you and how best to represent your client in a professional manner. Good communication skills are key, as you will be expected to speak to and deal with people at all levels of the social spectrum.
A good professional attitude is a must, not everything goes your way all of the time so you need to remain flexible, people of wealth and fame have a huge entourage that surround them, many who are there for their own interests and will see you as a threat so you need to learn to be diplomatic when the time calls for it.
There are times when you may be exposed to things which your Principal may not want to get out into the public eye, this could be an array of different things from business deals, medical problems, drinking habits, partners that their husband/wife doesn’t know about etc, etc. You are paid to be discrete and must exercise this discretion. If your Principal is dabbling in things that you are not happy with then walk away as there will always be another job!
There are no hard and fast rules about what the best characteristics of a bodyguard are, however these are just a few of the qualities that are usually important to most people that employ professional bodyguards – common sense, a good professional attitude, self confidence, immaculate appearance, punctuality, intelligence, communication skills, physical fitness and a strong presence.
Of course not everyone has all of these qualities as nobody is perfect but to be successful within the CP sector you should look to improve on all of the above.
By Shaun West