The focus of this fifth blog in the series of ‘7 Things interview boards also look for in promotion candidates’ is about evidencing your leadership impact in and beyond your team. As a reminder, here are the 7 key traits which police promotion boards inherently value, linked to the other blogs in this series:
- Good awareness and understanding of vision or mission
- Self-aware, understanding personal values and development areas
- Demonstrates awareness of the current policing context
- A response that goes beyond the theoretical
- Able to evidence leadership impact in & beyond your team
- Well-structured and considered responses
- Demonstrate strong leadership skills grounded in service delivery
So let’s get to ‘Thing 5’…
Thing 5: Able to Evidence Leadership Impact Within and Beyond Your Team
“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” – Henry David Thoreau
Being required to write or talk about oneself in a leadership context can be difficult. Those who can do it confidently and pro-actively and who prevail in a promotion selection process are usually those who focused beforehand on developing their ability to do this.
In simple terms, that’s it.
Enter the Dragon’s Den
“I am far more likely to invest if the founding entrepreneurs have already invested in themselves.” – Duncan Bannatyne
I recently coached an officer to change their perspective of the interview panel, while developing their confidence to verbalise sound responses. Initially, they thought of their impending promotion interview opportunity as a ‘Dragons Den’ experience. On this TV show, entrepreneurs enter the ‘den’ to seek investment in their business ideas. Before they do that and in order to exploit the opportunity fully, they will practice their ‘pitch’. Some clearly do it better than others, and it shows. Competence in delivering their pitch is often underpinned by weeks and days of practice beforehand to maximise potential.
In this respect, leadership expectations of Sergeants and Inspectors include leading people, leading change and managing performance. Unsurprisingly, a promotion board may ask a couple of questions about them!
The leadership impact of Sergeants is essentially focused around team effectiveness. As police forces and other organisations become ‘flatter’ in hierarchy, it is likely Sergeants will also be leading ‘beyond their authority’ as ways of working develop and change.
For leadership impact of Inspectors, expectations may stretch beyond and across force wide teams, specialist departments, partner agencies or wider afield. It may include developing and implementing plans to influence organisations.
Considered practice and effort helps get this across well in your promotion application or interview responses. A few ‘dry runs’ practising your pitch to ‘the dragons’ ahead of your opportunity will help influence and impress them! More importantly, it will boost your ability and with that, your confidence.
If that is something that sounds worthwhile and you’d like to make a meaningful start, here is one way to practice taming the dragons before you have to. Imagine this as the very first question you are asked on your promotion board:
Why should anyone be led by you?
An effective response to this could easily put clear blue sea between you and other candidates. But you are unlikely to deliver an effective response without laying the foundations for it today, because it’s a hard question to answer.
Did I mention that it was a hard question? It’s probably the hardest leadership question for anyone to answer. Leadership academics Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones wrote a book with the same title. They found whenever they asked that particular question over ten years of research, often to a room of executives, the result was a sudden stunned hush. It’s difficult because it’s introspective. In order to do it and yourself justice, you have to reach inside yourself for the response.
As a promotion candidate seeking to be appointed to a formal leadership position as a Sergeant or Inspector, you might agree that whilst it is a testing question, it is also a fair one. Practice in answering this can prepare you well for any other leadership-based questions at any level of leadership.
Reality check: Nothing you have read about above matters in the slightest, if you are not taking action right now.
“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” – Amelia Earhart
Taking action is the one thing that will move you closer to achieving any goal. You can choose to start right now.
- Treat it as a question in your promotion application.
- Grab a pencil, get to work and start constructing a response.
- Now imagine it as the only question in your promotion interview.
- Consider and rehearse a verbal response.
This is one good way to start laying solid foundations for your promotion success. A valuable tool you’ll need to hand is the promotion framework that you will be assessed against.
Structuring your evidence: An example (Inspector level)
Lets take the Policing Professional Framework (PPF) to look at one example of leadership impact at Sergeant to Inspector level. It was used successfully to achieve promotion to Inspector after the officer contacted me for some assistance. This example is from my downloadable guide 25+ examples of what works in promotion applications.
The PPF very helpfully divides the vast subject of police leadership into three ‘personal qualities’ (aka behaviours/competencies). Here’s the framework guidance:
Leading change: [Positive about change, adapting rapidly to changing circumstances and encouraging flexibility in others. Identifies and implements improvements to service delivery, engaging people in the change process and encouraging them to contribute ideas. Finds more cost-effective ways to do things, taking an innovative approach to solving problems and considers radical alternatives].
Leading people: [Inspires people to meet challenging goals, maintaining the momentum of change. Gives direction and states expectations clearly. Talk positively about policing creating enthusiasm and commitment. Motivates staff by giving genuine praise, highlighting success and recognising good performance. Gives honest and constructive feedback to help people understand their strengths and weaknesses. Invests time in developing people by coaching and mentoring them, providing developmental opportunities and encouraging staff to take on new responsibilities].
Managing performance: [Translates strategy into specific plans and actions, effectively managing competing priorities with available resources. Takes a planned and organised approach to achieving objectives, defining clear timescales and outcomes. Identifies opportunities to reduce costs and ensure maximum value for money is achieved. Demonstrates forward thinking, anticipating and dealing with issues before they occur. Delegates responsibilities appropriately and empowers others to make decisions. Monitor progress and holds people to account for delivery, highlighting good practice and effectively addressing under-performance].
Here is the question posed:
“Please provide an example of when your leadership has improved performance.”
And here’s the officer’s evidence:
“The Great Summer Breeze (GSB) Festival experienced a significant rise in public complaints concerning Anti Social Behaviour.
As bronze commander with a shared mission to ensure our force remains a safe place to live, work and visit, I took ownership. I talked personally to complainants and wider stakeholders. I reviewed incident reports with them to gain a better understanding of issues from their perspective. Strong views were expressed concerning criminal damage, urinating outside properties and walking through gardens. Aware that alleviating ASB in communities is a driver of public confidence, I invited affected parties to a public meeting. My aims were to reduce ASB, manage expectations and restore confidence. I addressed the group, providing information/inviting feedback. I listened. Ideas discussed included volunteering. I developed this into an action group. I secured additional local authority resources and worked with operations department to ensure police resources were targeted more effectively around demand. I developed and implemented a revised Community Policing Plan. I conducted media interviews raising awareness/reassuring the wider community. To manage the impact of changes for police/civilians, I communicated frequently, remaining accessible for contact/queries.
Police overtime savings of £4000 were realised through empowering local residents to conduct tasks, which four police officers/PCSOs had traditionally completed. This included running the community office, delivering crime prevention information and ‘community intelligence’ updates. This is now recognised good practice for GSB festival. There were no further complaints. The resident’s association praised police commitment and local confidence was successfully restored. ASB reduced by 40%.”
“There is nothing so terrible as activity without insight.”- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The request (“Please provide an example of when your leadership has improved performance”) offers a valuable opportunity for any well-prepared candidate to evidence their leadership impact in and beyond the team.
Whether you are required to submit a written application as part of your force promotion selection process or not, structuring your evidence in this way to layout or ‘tell the story’ can help ensure it is aligned to the framework guidance provided.
As a starting point, it is imperative to answer the question, which this example does. It’s a professional response at Inspector level, demonstrated by…
- A clear indication of strategic awareness, which is important at Inspector level e.g. shared mission, drivers of public confidence.
- The individual’s leadership impact clearly extends to influencing partners and the wider community.
- The importance of communicating, listening and seeking feedback whilst implementing changes is acknowledged.
- The evidence alludes specifically to the Inspector’s role e.g. developing, implementing and reviewing plans.
- You can clearly see/hear how the officer’s aims and the wider outcome were achieved from the action/s described – aligned to the guidance (competence).
- There is a strong outcome with specific results. Performance is managed and improved.
The structure used is ‘Problem > Action > Result‘ (PAR). It’s one way to structure evidence for your promotion application and/or your interview responses. It’s the structure this officer preferred to use, but you can find other structure options in my digital promotion interview guide.
It’s important to remember the actual content and context of the example can be any situation. This could include examples from neighbourhood policing, response, organisational change or critical incidents. The important thing is not to ramble but adhere closely to the framework guidance for top marks.
Tip: Once your evidence is drafted in this way, it can be verbalised and practised as a potential interview response.
“I have no magic formula. The only way I know to win is through hard work”. – Don Shula
All of this is essentially about skills that can be developed. However, many candidates run out of time because they kick into action only when a promotion process opens. Cue panic mode! Others may simply need a bit of help pulling together the structure, polishing the final product or developing potential interview responses.
Police officers are effective at recognising evidence in investigations. It’s what they are trained to do. Unfortunately, when it comes to recognising evidence from operational experiences to support a promotion bid, this ability diminishes. It’s not what they are trained to do.
“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” – Arthur Conan Doyle
Coaching is one option to quickly raise your awareness and help bring relevant evidence into focus building a case for promoting you.
Alternatively, working in slower time to collate your best supporting examples and to understand your force promotion framework will assist with ‘blending in’ links with the role you aspire to. You can then consider your drafts against your force mission, vision and values. Any refinements or polish required to help you stand out can always be added from there.
This process can take months of work. So it’s not surprising that candidates like Rich, aiming for Inspector rank, like to accelerate things with a bit of help. Here’s a snippet from his last email to me:
“I managed to score 20/20 at local assessment, they knocked one mark off at moderation resulting in 19/20. Your guides obviously helped me shape my examples into exactly what they were looking for.”
I remind officers that there is no ‘magic formula’ or guarantee for success in writing a promotion application or preparing ahead of an interview board. It’s hard work, but if you need support, there are some tried and tested ways to start marshalling what you have to offer and to work smarter.
“I went to a book store and asked the saleswoman, ‘Where’s the self-help section?’ She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.” – Steven Wright
It’s not only Sergeant and Inspector candidates who experience uncertainty when attempting to translate or align their experience to meet the criteria for promotion
Hop: When he first decided to attend a Rank Success Promotion Masterclass, Jon was a Sergeant looking to make the hop to Inspector.
Skip: He did so first time. The skip to Chief Inspector followed shortly afterwards.
Jump: Jon invested in his development again prior to successfully making the next jump to Superintendent. Here are a few words from Jon about how he chose to prepare beforehand:
“I found [the Inspector example guide] really useful to see how evidence should be structured against the PPF and provide a detailed and evidenced written response to the behaviours… also to structure my interview examples and how best to create a clear vision for what I would demonstrate and achieve in the next rank.
I particularly liked the way the guide laid out the different word count examples for example 250, 300 and 500 words and how to answer force specific questions around personal statements of what I would bring to the rank.
The guide helped me broaden my thinking and awareness for the higher rank of Superintendent. I feel it would be equally of use to those applying for Chief Inspector and Superintendent, because I have yet to see anything which gives candidates this clear advice and guidance in order to best structure their evidence to be successful in a police promotion process.”
Read more about Jon and others who successfully evidenced their leadership impact beyond their teams. All of them have two things in common. A solid personal commitment to prepare thoroughly, backed up with MASSIVE determined action.
Why not start evidencing YOUR leadership impact NOW?
Kind Regards, Steve
Wherever you are on your promotion journey, www.ranksuccess.co.uk can help with guidance and support.