Every executive protection program leader should take a critical look at their body of work and ask themselves: What is operational excellence in my current ecosystem and in the industry? How are others in my network doing? Can I benchmark against them? Am I running the best professional service business possible for my clients and organization? How am I supporting and promoting operational excellence every day and building in continual improvement moving forward?
Know the numbers that matter to your clients and to your company’s bottom line. Get good at budgeting and following up on budgets. Understand, learn and master the financial and administrative strategies and tasks that are critical to the long-term success of your program and organization – including procurement and compliance expectations and requirements.
It’s said so often that it’s almost cliché, but executive protection is a people business. No principal wants second-best protection, and that’s what they get with second-best people. How are you going to attract, develop and retain the very best and brightest? What do you do to consistently engage with them and motivate them to do their absolute best – and get so good that they can eventually replace you? We need to move away from autocratic approaches to leading by coaching and influencing -- it’s not just the millennials that are looking for a deeper sense of purpose in the work they do, it’s all of us. And while clients might not notice that your HR machine runs smoothly, they definitely will if it starts to hiccup.
Whether you like it or not, the reputation of your executive protection program (and your own reputation) is on the line every day. Take a page from the Marketing 101 textbook and apply it every day. Understand your client’s needs. Adapt your product to meet their needs rather than forcing a round peg into a square hole. Get good at understanding how your clients perceive your program’s features, benefits and value-add. Communicate these consistently, honestly and transparently in terms that your ecosystem comprehends – not with the acronyms and jargon you learned in the military or law enforcement.
If you’re working in the executive protection industry, or thinking about starting a career in it, I’d love to know what you think.
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Executive Vice President
Allied Universal® Executive Protection and Intelligence Services