Competencies communicate how an organisation wants its people to behave. They refer to the behaviours and personal qualities required to perform the role you aspire to. ‘We are emotionally aware’ is a key CVF competency assessed in UK police promotion processes for Sergeant, Inspector, and other ranks.

In this blog I’ll define and explore the CVF competency ‘We are emotionally aware’, including example promotion interview questions. In Part 2, I’ll provide a more in-depth view of the differing elements of emotional intelligence and examine a detailed written response to a promotion question, structured and aligned to CVF Level 2.

“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand… then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.” – Daniel Goleman

Feel free to supplement your reading on this competency, by listening to my in-depth podcast and summary video on this topic. Both are embedded below:

I believe Daniel Goleman is the guru on emotional intelligence, as I’ll expand more upon in Part 2. I find his approach and explanations a helpful alternative way of considering this CVF competency. I aim to better connect officers personally (and you could say emotionally!) with their promotion assessment framework. So let’s first explore and define what is emotional intelligence exactly?

Emotional intelligence (EQ) describes your capacity to be aware of, control and express your emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships empathetically. In short, it’s what makes us human.

As a leader operating in today’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world (VUCA), being emotionally aware is important. Psychologist and best-selling author Daniel Goleman argues that without emotional intelligence:

“A person can have the best training in the world, an incisive analytical mind and an endless supply of smart ideas, but still won’t make a great leader.”

The CVF Definition of Emotional Awareness

police CVF made easy

“The purpose of introducing the CVF is to adapt policing to new demands and challenges, and ensure we achieve the highest standards of professional conduct.” – College of Policing

The Competency and Values Framework (CVF) published by the College of Policing sets out nationally-recognised behaviours and values for assessing police officer promotion candidates. For Sergeant, Inspector and Chief Inspector candidates, competencies are usually assessed at Level 2 of the framework. 

The College’s guidance for ‘We are emotionally aware’ defines the following descriptors:

  • I consider the perspectives of people from a wide range of backgrounds before taking action.
  • adapt my style and approach according to the needs of the people I am working with, using my own behaviour to achieve the best outcome.
  • promote a culture that values diversity and encourages challenge.
  • I encourage reflective practice and take the time to support others, to understand reactions and behaviours.
  • I take responsibility for helping to ensure the emotional wellbeing of those in my teams.
  • I take responsibility to deal with any inappropriate behaviours.

At first glimpse, this appears to be just a list of bland statements. If you need further interpretation assistance, the College’s guidance simply refers you back to the list; candidates and assessors alike!

“It is expected individuals will use professional judgement to assess the complexity and suitability of any evidence provided against the framework.”

Inspector promotion toolkit

Signposting and Direction

“A lot of people never use their initiative because no-one told them to.” – Banksy

Rather than becoming frustrated with this apparent lack of support, as many candidates do, it’s exactly the time to demonstrate this competency! To get you started, I’ve highlighted above key words from the descriptors to help focus your attention. In addition, you’ll find links to explore further explanations and reading to better connect you with the competency.

One element of emotional intelligence is ‘self-awareness’. This means having insight to your own emotions and understanding your strengths or limitations. Another aspect is ‘self-management’ e.g., your resilience and ability to remain calm under pressure. With shift work and other life commitments, compiling your promotion application form and/or prepping for a promotion board with just a few weeks’ notice can certainly pile on the pressure.

The list of competency descriptors provides only signposting and direction. From there it’s over to you and your initiative. It is time to think things through; to reflect and to start considering what (if any) evidence you possess that supports the case for promoting you. This is when the realisation dawns; that it is not easy preparing for promotion, it’s hard.

Here’s something many unsuccessful candidates have in common: Underestimating the time it takes to articulate your promotion evidence and align it with the CVF competency descriptors. This is partly because the CVF requires you to focus on how you achieved tasks, not just what you did. Time spent familiarising yourself with the CVF descriptors now is time well spent. 

“Thanks for your Application and Interview success guides.  I’ve been successful first time at my Sergeant assessment centre today… the structured knowledge from your guides and Spotify podcasts is the reason I’ve got through, invaluable in giving me the base knowledge and cognitive provocation to think around the issues on my daily 70-mile commute.” – Jack, passed Sergeant promotion board

Unfortunately, this is a message that perhaps understandably doesn’t resonate with most busy cops. The great majority tend to approach this valuable opportunity with the attitude of “I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it”. Other officers make a commitment to themselves via effective preparation in advance, taking full advantage of support options to raise awareness, boost confidence and make the best use of available time working around other commitments.

Sergeant Inspector promotion guide

Moving Goalposts?

“Change is the only constant.” – Marcus Aurelius

Any progressive organisation will change the process by which it selects and promotes individuals to leadership positions. That’s certainly true of the police service. It is sometimes summarised as “Moving the goalposts”. No matter which selection process or promotion framework is in place, you just have to scratch the surface of the topic of police promotion and you’ll find strongly held opinions about it.

In recent years, different frameworks have been used to assess promotion candidates. Plus ca change. Aspiring Metropolitan Police officers have had to contend with three new entire promotion frameworks in the last few years alone! For many, this is clearly a source of significant frustration and ‘change fatigue’. Whether it be having the grit to reattempt promotion having previously failed, or contending with a different process than was in place when going through a more junior rank. Here are some of the various frameworks over recent years:

Luckily, all forces are now aligning to the CVF, which at least provides some national consistency, albeit with extensive local “tailoring”. 

Throughout all this change, emotional intelligence has been overtly and/or covertly assessed. Whether it’s your communication with others, support for communities, or even your own resilience to deal with the myriad of changing promotion processes!

Promotion is Emotional

Face colour paint emotional

“For news of the heart, look at the face.” – West African Proverb

The best candidates have confidence, and it shows. Confidence has its roots in the depth and breadth of preparation for a promotion interview opportunity or selection process. It’s also often what makes the difference between success and failure. Being interviewed with only a superficial knowledge of the competencies you are being assessed against is a choice. Similarly, developing your understanding well ahead of your board is a choice. In short, translating being a great cop with great experience, into also being a great promotion candidate; they’re two very different things!

Happiness, delight, and elation are associated with promotion boards. Those who prepare effectively often stand out from their competition. It is a pleasure when a promotion panel have in front of them a candidate who is clearly well prepared, persuading the panel via their responses to questions that they are the leader, manager, and supervisor the force is looking for. It makes the decision to promote you over others easier, because in the hour available, you made the best use of the opportunity.

On the other side of the coin, disappointment, anger, and frustration are also prevalent in the aftermath of promotion boards. Being supported for promotion and then being told you were unsuccessful in a selection process can feel like the organisation has rejected you. Reacting emotionally is natural. For those with a growth mindset, the sting of disappointment is short-lived and alleviated with time. They reflect on the whole experience and commit to a fresh attempt using any feedback and learning.

“A quick note to let you know I passed my Sergeant board! Thanks for your guidance. I dipped it the year before – didn’t know about your YouTube videos and was left adrift with prep because of Covid – but a lot more support this year. I was so relieved walking out of there but it was like night and day compared to the year before.” – Leighanne, successful Sergeant

Your force instructions and CVF guidance should provide you with some golden nuggets, tips and insights. But here’s the thing, it’s sometimes not enough. ‘We are emotionally aware’ may be a relatively new police promotion overt competency, but its importance in terms of underpinning communication, trust and leadership has been known for years.

If you are to be assessed around your capacity for emotional intelligence here’s a tip. Don’t rely on the competency guidance alone. Seizing the opportunity now to discover more about its relevance to leadership helps you to interpret the competency descriptors and align your promotion evidence to ensure a better ‘fit’. I’ll cover more on this in Part 2, but for now here’s some example questions to get you thinking…

Promotion board inspector sergeant
Police promotion interview detailed guide and example board questions

Example CVF Police Promotion Questions

Effective preparation includes considering example police promotion questions you may encounter at interview or on a promotion application form. I provide a raft of example interview questions in my Interview Success guide as part of my digital promotion toolkit. All questions are aligned to the various competencies and policing values.

Here’s a forward-facing question pitched at Level 2 of the CVF competency, ‘We are emotionally aware’, to get you warmed up. You’ll notice it also links to diversity and inclusion

“How will you encourage a supportive and inclusive culture among your new team as a Sergeant?”

Here’s several more sample questions to practice as part of a mock board (contact me for mock board coaching and feedback if required). Practicing interview questions gives you a feel for how you sound. They can also help with thinking through and structuring verbal responses to predictable questions. For savvy promotion candidates, the CVF competency descriptors and guidance helps predict and anticipate potential promotion board questions.

As I mention, there’s plenty more in my guides, aligned to each competency and value of the CVF:

  • When have you demonstrated the competency, We Are Emotionally Aware, in the workplace?
  • How will you ensure the wellbeing of those on your team?
  • What challenges do you see to becoming an effective Sergeant/Inspector?

Over to you!

Next time, I’ll take you on a deeper dive of this CVF competency, including the different facets of emotional awareness. I’ll also share sample evidence from my Sergeant promotion toolkit, demonstrating what good looks like, what works, and why; whether it’s in application forms or interview responses. 

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 videoseGuidesa podcast, plus free blog content both here and via my Police Hour guest articles.

Promotion support for inspectors and sergeants
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