Last week I reminded you of the importance of being aware of and understanding your force mission. The focus of this second part of the series of ‘7 Things interview boards also look for promotion candidates’ concerns the areas of being Self aware, understanding personal values and development areas. As a reminder, here are the 7 key traits which police promotion boards inherently value:

  1. Good awareness and understanding of vision or mission
  2. Self-aware, understanding personal values and development areas
  3. Demonstrates awareness of the current policing context
  4. A response that goes beyond the theoretical
  5. Able to evidence leadership impact in & beyond your team
  6. Well-structured and considered responses
  7. Demonstrate strong leadership skills grounded in service delivery

So let’s get to Thing 2…

Thing 2: Self aware, understanding personal values and development areas

“Once I know who I’m not, then I’ll know who I am” – Alanis Morissette

Self awareness

Self Awareness

Self-awareness – also referred to as self-knowledge or introspection – is often a first step to goal setting. It is about being conscious of what you’re good at and what makes you tick, while accepting and acknowledging you still have things yet to learn.


“Self-awareness is our capacity to stand apart from ourselves and examine our thinking, our motives, our history, our scripts, our actions, and our habits and tendencies” – Stephen Covey

One way to become more self-aware is to view yourself through Johari’s window. The Johari window is a technique to help people better understand their relationship with themselves and others.

  • Known Self: Things we and others know about ourself
  • Hidden Self: Things that we know about ourself that others do not know
  • Blind Self: Things others know about us which we do not know
  • Unknown Self: Things neither we nor others know about ourself

Johari window

Effective supervision

Your effectiveness as a police supervisor is directly linked to an awareness of values, your own and others.

So, how are your values?

When I ask that question, officers usually look at me as though I have grown another head! It can be a tough question. You have to go straight to the thinking zone. It’s introspective, but serves to support purposeful conversation and reflection about your shared values.

What’s the relevance of this to being a supervisor, I hear you ask?

Well, when everyone has gone home and left the police station or building, only desks, chairs and computers remain. There is no culture. The culture (shared beliefs, attitudes and values) arrives only with officers and staff.

Similarly, the position of Sergeant or Inspector does not contain values. Only when the role is occupied does it takes on values. It then takes on your values, along with force values (organisation) and those of the community (environmental).

Given that a) you will supervise others according to your values and b) they can be clarified, it is not surprising that in your board you may be required to share some insights about your values.

“If you embody our purpose and values, join us and make a difference”. Current police recruitment advert

Winging it

If your interview is the very first time you think about this and you are ‘winging it’ or ‘flying by the seat of your pants’ you may have an interesting learning experience. You are likely though, to waste a valuable opportunity to convert your leadership aspirations into promotion success.

You are unlikely to be asked ‘How are your values?’ as above. But one question the panel could ask to gain insight around your self-awareness, personal values and development areas is:

“What have you done to develop yourself or anyone else in the last 12 months?”

It’s a great question and your response to it will tell the panel a lot about you! Why this question?

“Development is always self-development. Nothing could be more absurd than for the enterprise to assume responsibility for the development of a person. The responsibility rests with the individual, their abilities, their efforts” – Peter Drucker

What leadership review?

Continuous Personal/Professional Development (CPD), is highly valued by the organisation. You are applying for a formal leadership position, which carries expectations that you will develop other people too. The panel wants to hear from candidates who are ‘growing’ and learning; who consciously acknowledge their own development needs, who are taking action to address them and who can also demonstrate awareness of the importance of developing others.

And yet, as I write this, it is my experience in speaking with many constables and sergeants who aspire to promotion that many are still unaware of the College of Policing’s (COP) leadership review.

COP Leadership Review

You may be thinking …but so what?

Well, the no.1 recommendation of the leadership review was that ‘all existing leaders (that’s you!) take responsibility for driving their own development’. When you think about that recommendation and the potential board question alluded to above there are clear links. It’s prepared candidates who can ‘see’ them. They won’t be struggling to understand the ‘relevance’ of the question.

Instead they are better equipped to provide an informed response. They are demonstrating self-awareness, recognition of the importance of CPD and their own wider responsibilities of developing others, as part of helping the organisation to move forward.

If a candidate can’t respond to this question, which is a real gift for prepared candidates, then it will be apparent to the board that the individual is not yet ready for promotion.

It’s been emotional

For Inspectors and increasingly for Sergeants emotional intelligence is a valued characteristic of good leadership. It includes the ability to identify your own emotions and those of others, to harness them and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving.

It’s also about the ability to regulate your own emotions and responses, in order to manage other people.

More prepared candidates will know that ‘self-awareness’ is only one component of emotional intelligence. The others are self-management, social awareness and relationship management.

It’s something I cover in one to one support and at promotion master classes

I also connect individuals with resources like this one on emotional intelligence to help.

Emotional Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence: Low vs. High Sourced from

Want a comfortable smooth interview?

It can take time to absorb all this in order to consider and be able to reflect it through your interview responses, but it’s certainly worth including in your wider preparation. Here’s some food for thought:

“Had my Inspector interview today, hard work and understanding the process contributed to the most comfortable smooth interview I have ever had.” – Ewan, Passed Inspector’s board first time.

Good better best

Good candidates make a commitment to themselves to prepare for a promotion opportunity. Better candidates act upon that commitment. The BEST candidates transform themselves through a depth and breadth of preparation where (as with Ewan above) your board experience is more of a ‘professional conversation’ that you are ready for.

To make a start you’ll need to take action! So download your personal promotion interview guide NOW or get in touch if you’d like some tailored support.

Kind Regards, Steve

Wherever you are on your promotion journey, can help with guidance and support.