If you aspire to Sergeant, Inspector or Chief Inspector ranks in a police promotion process, inspiration is key. Not least in that one of the CVF competencies is ‘we deliver, support and inspire’. Therefore expectations include that you are competent at inspiring others to do their best. That may not yet be the case. Or rather, you are unaccustomed to communicating how you do it. That’s an important skill well worth developing ahead of your promotion opportunity.
We Deliver, Support and Inspire…
“I am a role model for the behaviours I expect to see in others, and I act in the best interests of the public and police service.” – CVF guidance
This blog is about one of the six competencies from the national police promotion ‘Competency and Values Framework’ (CVF), published by the College of Policing. This is the professional framework now used across all UK policing. But what does it mean? I cover a lot about the CVF and this behaviour framework, including examples of what works, in my premium police promotion content. I’ve also published other blogs on service delivery and supporting others.
There’s a saying that genius is 99% perspiration, 1% inspiration. The same is true for success! This blog will put its 99% perspiration into discussing the less tangible notion of ‘inspiration’. Here’s a question to get you thinking: “Do you inspire others?”
“Yes, I do” is a common answer. Nothing surprising there.
However, in one-to-one sessions I’ll sometimes follow this question immediately with: “Inspire them to do what?”
That’s often a moment that identifies a huge gap, the instant where a realisation dawns. You might honestly believe that you are inspiring others, but when it comes down to discussing what you do, how you do it and why you do it triggered or initiated by simple questions it’s much harder. Some may waffle impressive responses, but it’s crystal clear to assessors that none of the waffle is aligned to the competency being assessed. That’s where some meaningful prior practice comes in handy to raise awareness.
Here’s another question to keep you in the ‘zone’. “How will you inspire your teams to deliver an effective policing service and get the best from them?”. You’ll find lots of similar questions in the practice question bank within the Rank Success digital interview guide.
Your preparation for promotion should include reading the competency descriptors in your promotion framework, to make them meaningful to you, decide how your actions and/or experiences fit with them, and importantly how you might then communicate this to your promotion board. It’s never time wasted so let’s address the concept of inspiration…
What is Inspiration?
“I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.” – Ernest Henley
Nelson Mandela kept a short poem written on a scrap of paper in his prison cell, to inspire him during his darkest days. The above quote is part of a poem “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley. Its key message ‘we must strive to make each day a good one no matter what our circumstances may be’ recognises that how we think determines how we feel.
Some officers wonder what the word tangibly means, as they also may do for the other CVF competencies and values, be they the standard England and Wales versions or the tailored CVF used in Police Scotland and elsewhere.
The word ‘inspire’ means to excite, motivate, or encourage. Another meaning is to ‘breathe life into’. That’s a great way to consider inspiring in the context of police leadership and your promotion evidence. Whatever the myriad of promotion assessments used throughout UK police forces, most candidates aspiring to the Federated ranks of Sergeant, Inspector and Chief Inspector are assessed at Level 2 of the CVF. So, supporting examples you may have to evidence inspiring others should relate to the following guidance:
I give clear directions and have explicit expectations, helping others to understand how their work operates in the wider context.
I identify barriers that inhibit performance in my teams and take steps to resolve these thereby enabling others to perform.
I lead the public and/or my colleagues, where appropriate, during incidents or through the provision of advice and support.
I ensure the efficient use of resources to create the most value and to deliver the right impact within my areas.
I keep track of changes in the external environment, anticipating both the short- and long-term implications for the police service.
I motivate and inspire others to achieve their best.
These descriptors are also helpful to inform practice competency-related questions ahead of your promotion board or even ahead of an opportunity being announced! For example, how have you translated strategic objectives into tangible actions for your teams? When have you managed individual or team performance to improve public service? Or a common presentation scenario, what do you understand the strategic issues facing policing to be and how will you contribute?
Doing this reading and preparation provides you as an aspiring candidate with a valuable key to unlock and maximise your potential in a promotion selection process. You will be much better prepared for police promotion board questions, such as: “How will you inspire others to maintain high standards?” (a forward-facing interview question), or “What inspires you?” (a strengths-based interview question).
You may find it hard to be inspired by a promotion assessment framework. I don’t blame you there! It can be quite dry stuff. Yet it holds the answers to your success. Your local force instructions and the CVF guidance itself are full of golden nuggets, tips and insights to help you align your evidence into an effective application or practicing some interview responses. Your promotion evidence in turn is meant to ‘breathe life’ into these behaviours and the specific associated descriptors. If you want to go further with comprehensive support and insights, there’s extensive and rank-specific premium support available on my site (just use RSGUIDES20 for 20% off any product or bundle offer).
“Inspiration is a guest that does not willingly visit the lazy.” – Tchaikovsky
Inspiration can be found in books, quotes, words, movies, images, songs, and sounds. It can be found in the environment or relationships around you. It literally surrounds you. For example, you may find inspiration in my little-known ‘All Leaders Read’ book corner series on YouTube, where I recommend interesting books and other reading material for your CPD. I also share inspirational thoughts and quotes on my Rank Success Twitter and other social media platforms.
As Tchaikovsky’s quote indicates, inspiration requires active effort to connect to. So, ask yourself the following question:
What or who inspires you? How? Why?
Spending some time thinking around this will help you connect with and articulate your own leadership abilities. If something or someone does not inspire you, how will you inspire others?
It is something I encourage officers to reflect upon as part of their preparation for a promotion opportunity because if you’re not inspired, you may as well stay in bed. Or at least certainly don’t be thinking you have a serious chance at being successful in promotion.
I receive a great deal of feedback that my promotion masterclass (now available as an on-demand, uninterrupted, 250-minute HD download) provides ambitious police leaders with inspiration to achieve their dreams. It’s one of the most used terms cops use to describe the masterclass (along with insightful, informative, thought-provoking, motivating, and engaging). My aim through all my premium and free content is to inspire future police leaders to think, to develop themselves, and ultimately become the best leaders, managers, and supervisors that they can be. (While of course achieving promotion along the way whilst forces are actively seeking such individuals!).
Exemplary leaders understand that if they want to gain commitment and achieve the highest standards, they must role model the behaviours they expect of others.
“Action expresses priorities.” – Gandhi
Inspired Police Promotion Preparation
“Carpe Diem” – Seize the Day.
Ok, let’s hit the ground running! Lots of officers make a conscious choice to leave promotion preparation to the last minute; something vividly apparent to a promotion panel. The sting of disappointment that follows an unsuccessful board experience usually has its roots in choices made beforehand.
You can practice out loud to yourself right now. Verbalising out loud actually helps with organising your thoughts, aids your memory, and ultimately is the best way to re-enact what you will be doing in an interview. Here are three further practice interview questions, which might be asked on your promotion board:
Why do you want to be a Sergeant / Inspector / Chief Inspector?
How will you support others to ensure delivery of the best possible service?
What’s it like to be led by you?
Make some notes to structure your responses before speaking. In fact, I encourage all aspiring candidates to write down their evidence even if application forms don’t form part of the promotion process. If you don’t do this, it’s not tangible. If it’s not concrete, then it’s abstract or just ‘noise’ in your head. Once it’s out, you can see it and get to work on it.
There’s nothing stopping you getting to work right now on developing and practicing your written or verbal responses. Use the questions in this blog as part of a mock promotion board; ask colleagues, friends or loved ones to play the part of the board, or as part of coaching with me to gain professional feedback.
How inspiring do you sound? Take it from there.
Kind Regards, Steve
If you found this blog helpful, you can hit the ground running with your promotion preparation. Get your personal digital promotion toolkit, attend or download my Police Promotion Masterclass, or contact me to arrange personal coaching support. If you first want to explore completely free content, I have a collection of videos, eGuides, a podcast, plus free blog content both here and via my Police Hour guest articles.