When it comes to leadership in event security, it is the most important factor for the successful outcome of any event. Whether a small, private event with just a handful of guards or a massive music festival or sporting event with hundreds of guards, police, fire, etc. an Event Manager can make or break the outcome of any event.
Preparation Is the Name of the Game
The more you prepare, plan, research, communicate and advance your event, the better the chances your outcome will be successful. It’s also important to be aware of the risk involved with the event you are securing.
Each genre of music has different risks involved, and I have seen cases where a manager’s lack of experience involving a certain genre of music and its fans end up resulting in a complete disaster.
Lack of leadership in event security can result in people getting hurt or worse — killed. A good leader prepares for every single worst-case scenario they can dream up and then creates a plan to prevent or mitigate them. It’s a lot of pressure, but you do not have to do this alone.
A Good Leader Listens
It’s important to have reliable people around you. Pick the right Supervisors to help you manage your event. No one man can do it all; Especially when we’re talking about events with tens of thousands in attendance.
Taking into account leadership in event security, you must create a round table if you will. A group of people who you trust, who you’ve worked with for a long time. People who have good credit with you. People who are not afraid to suggest we do things differently than what you may want.
It’s important to listen to your people, however, ultimately the final decision is yours. You are the “decision-maker” and in order to make the right decision, you need to surround yourself with trusted colleagues who share the same mindset, culture, and concerns you have.
I believe that true leadership in event security means being the first person on-site and the last to leave. First one in, the last one out mentality. I am not saying that’s the way everyone should be… I’m just saying that’s what’s worked for me for all these years.
Lead by Example
Never ask your team to do anything you would not do yourself. Guards pay attention to things like that. If they are asked to stand at a post in the rain wearing a poncho while you are in the air-conditioned cubicle looking at monitors or doing paperwork, they will not follow your lead for long.
On the other hand, if your team sees that you are out there in the rain with them, shoulder to shoulder… they will follow you to the end. They will see that you are a real leader and not a slave-driver.
Event security in general deals with a lot (weather, people, risks, long hours on their feet, etc.) and does not get paid handsomely because it’s Event Security and not SRT, EP, or CP. Keep that in mind when leading them. A good leader can be the reason they work hard or the reason they don’t. I personally do not take breaks. However, I make sure each one of my guards has been “broken” (has taken a break).
If you come to one of the events our company protects, you will see me carrying bags of ice on my shoulders, in the rain or heat, bringing them to the coolers I brought from the office, and filling them with water for my team. Things like that.
Even though I’m the President and CEO, I am physically outworking everyone, and the guards see that. They will work hard for you because they see you care about them. If there is an altercation, be the first one there. If there is someone ill, be the first one there. Your guards will take notice and work just as hard when they do. Now, I am not saying the Event Security Manager must “do it all” because that is simply not possible. But do as much as you possibly can — then do a little more.
Training Your Staff
In order to get the most productivity out of your event security, it is also important to take time to make sure all your supervisors know everything you know about the event. That way, they can instruct the guards they are responsible for as thoroughly as possible. Especially for access points, ingresses, and egresses.
There is a lot going on during an event, so make it easy on your supervisors and your guards. For example, it’s the small things like posting credential boards/keys at each and every access point that can make big differences. This eliminates a lot of potential breaches and arguments.
Our Event Security Division operates primarily out of South Florida. If anyone reading this has ever been to Miami or worked down here, they will know the typical guest who doesn’t have the proper credentials, yet swears he belongs.
And sometimes you will even get a “Do you know who I am?” That line is older than I am. I have been hearing that line come out of annoying people’s mouths down here since I was working nightclubs in the late 90’s up until an event I protected just last week. That line has not changed, and I am not sure why because it has never worked with me.
When asked “Do you know who I am?” I usually say “Yes, absolutely I do… You’re the guest without a credential and that’s why you’re not getting in.”
You will waste your voice to the point of being hoarse (literally, some events are 3 days long and 16 hours per day). A simple credential board posted by your guard can illuminate 90% of the arguments by being out in the open for the guard to simply point at and say “Sorry, you must have this credential to access this area.”
When guests see that, they really do not have an argument. Posting the cred board also ensures your guard doesn’t make any mistakes. This is one small way to increase productivity and reduce negativity and stress (I got dozens more).
“Communication Is Key”
I am sure you have your own radio codes and if you do not — make them. Radio codes and etiquette can also help for a safer and more productive event. Limit chatter or long communications.
When it comes to radio comms; keep it short, accurate, clear, and repeat the comm. Bad comms can make or break an event as well. Fights break out, and you want your guard speaking clearly and not panicking or yelling.
Accuracy/location/name of the guard are all important when it comes to communicating with your teammates. Venues can take up several city blocks. With the proper comms, it also eliminates the amount of ground you have to cover when responding. Again, there are many tricks of the trade and event security but too much to discuss in one article.
If you want a productive and successful “zero incident” event, you must be as productive as you can possibly be because you have so much to deal with and the more productive you are the higher the chances you will be successful. Ultimately productivity and leadership start at the top.