In Part 1, I defined and explored the CVF competency ‘We are emotionally aware’. This included tips for preparation ahead of your promotion opportunity and practice police promotion questions. Here in Part 2, I take a deeper dive, provide some more example promotion board questions and take a look at a detailed, structured, draft written example against this CVF competency at Level 2. Now let’s dive in…
“Few travel far enough along the path of personal or professional development to realise their full potential.” – Sir John Whitmore
A Deeper Dive into Emotional Awareness
For some people in society, emotional intelligence (often referred to as Emotional Quotient [EQ]) and awareness can be a tricky subject to articulate or identify with. The same happens with some cops; after all, the police are the public and the public are the police. Others in turn believe you either have it or you don’t; this might seem an unhelpful challenge for those officers wishing to develop their leadership skills in this area. As I’ve alluded to previously, the higher up the ranks you go, the more your skillset will need to develop from specialist/operational to more interpersonal. It’s taking a more strategic perspective on your CPD.
On the other hand, I believe emotional awareness can be developed like any other skill. It’s why I particularly like Daniel Goleman’s explanation, because it provides individuals with a breakdown of the various components. I mentioned in Part 1 how Daniel is hands-down the guru on emotional intelligence, so for now you can set aside the CVF competency information. Here’s why: Daniel defines emotional intelligence through four clear aspects:
- Self-awareness: Having insight to your own emotions together with an understanding of your own strengths and limitations.
- Self-Management: Resilience to external challenges/upsets and remaining calm under pressure.
- Empathy & Social Awareness: Understanding others’ perspectives and emotions, with good listening skills, to aid more effective communication.
- Relationship Management: Clearly and persuasively conveying your point while encouraging others to feel relaxed when working with you.
I’ve summarised these into a bespoke simple matrix below, demonstrating these concepts as four quadrants. I may use it in a future update of my police promotion masterclass materials, but for now it’s entirely free for your perusal. I think of EQ as an ever-developing move outwards, from knowing yourself to interacting with others.
First, you must become self-aware, before you can then moderate your behaviour around others, understand other people, and then ultimately using these skills to manage relationships. Sounds simple, right? Let’s explore each aspect in turn to put more meat on the bones. Each will support your ongoing development as a successful police leader, whatever your career aspirations. As usual, I’ll include other leading figures and theories from the leadership arena to aid your CPD and enhance meaning throughout the concept.
1. Self-Awareness: ‘Know Thyself’
“Smart people learn from everything and everyone, average people from their experiences, stupid people already have all the answers.” – Socrates
Self-awareness is one of the things police promotion boards look for in candidates. It isn’t just about the CVF competency either, as I’ve blogged about self-awareness before, it’s something the promotion panel naturally want to observe.
But what exactly is self-awareness? Put simply, it’s about how accurately you can assess your emotions. 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. It’s about stepping back and thinking around how you are responding to situations, how you come across to others, and how others respond to you.
Self-aware people understand themselves and this helps them understand the people around them. You might have noticed such people in your daily life. Soliciting honest feedback, be it constructive, positive, or negative, is a good way to gain insight about yourself. In addition, there’s various CPD tools and methods to assist you in developing your self-awareness, including:
- Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): This is an introspective self-report questionnaire, with the purpose of indicating differing psychological preferences in how you perceive the world around you and make decisions. The best reason to choose the MBTI instrument to discover your personality type is that hundreds of studies over the past 40 years have proven the instrument to be both valid and reliable. In other words, it measures what it says it does (validity) and produces the same results when given more than once (reliability). Find out more about MBTIs here and test your own style.
- 360-degree feedback: 360-degree feedback is a helpful source of learning about yourself, from the perspective of others you work with. A typical 360-degree feedback is conducted via a questionnaire. It’s called 360-degree because the feedback is from a range of parties: managers, peers, and direct reports. The results score you on personal attribute themes such as leadership, teamwork, communication, decisiveness, and adaptability. As a ‘snapshot’, it can provide a basis to recognise and reflect upon your strengths, then take action to improve in areas requiring development.
- Johari’s Window: In short, the window has four quadrants, with the aim being to expand the ‘Known Self’. Viewing yourself through Johari’s window is useful to gain insight into your behaviour and that of others.
“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
Greek philosopher Socrates believed the highest form of human excellence is to question oneself and others, whereby true wisdom comes from introspection. He believed he was wise because he knew that he had no knowledge, whereas others thought themselves wise, but knew nothing of their ignorance.
Here’s an introspective question, and a great promotion interview question to think on and practice a verbal response:
‘How are your values?’
Such questions are powerful because they compel you to look inward for answers. In doing so, these questions enhance your self-awareness. Introspective questioning is a technique I use in coaching sessions with aspiring officers looking to prepare effectively for promotion opportunities.
Defining your values compels you to focus and decide what is most important in your life. Only you can decide what they are for yourself. It’s a helpful thinking exercise for anyone aspiring to lead others. The positions of police Sergeant, Inspector or above do not contain values; only when the role is occupied does it take on your values. If your values ‘mesh’ with your force’s CVF values and wider policing values, then promoting you seems a good fit for the promotion board deciding your fate
In turn, it’s given that you will ‘behave’ according to your values, and that those values can be defined and discussed. So it’s not surprising you’ll be required to share some insights about your personal values with your promotion interview panel.
So, how are your values? Here are some more introspective police promotion interview questions assessing values…
- What is important to you?
- How do your values inform your actions?
- What is the leadership you need to provide in this force?
Practicing introspection develops your self-awareness and ability to lead with compassion.
2. Self-Management & Resilience
“Grit is a passion or perseverance for long-term goals. having stamina, sticking with your future, day in and day out, not for a month, but for years to make that future a reality.” – Angela Duckworth
Self-management is your ability to control your own emotions. Effective self-management is an important skill underpinning resilience. A significant question if you are aiming to occupy any leadership position might be:
“How do you manage stress?”
Emotionally resilient people are more effective at managing stress than non-resilient people. You’ll have down days, that’s natural but how do you bounce back? Don’t be surprised if you are asked about this in an interview. If you are not aware of how you behave when under stress, you’ll not be aware of your impact on others.
Effectively managing stress in a leadership role supports emotional resilience. Here are some specific important characteristics of emotionally-resilient people:
- Having realistic and attainable expectations and goals
- Being empathetic toward other people
- Being effective communicators with good people skills
- Showing good judgment and problem-solving skills
- Feeling in control of their lives and good about themselves
Mental toughness can be defined as the ability or inner quality that enables individuals to work hard and stick to long-term goals, despite difficulties, obstacles or barriers encountered. It is a collection of attributes allowing someone to persevere through difficult circumstances, such as difficult competitive situations, and emerge without losing confidence. One prime example: Not all candidates succeed at their first attempt at promotion.
Angela Lee Duckwort is an expert on mental toughness, having studied high achievers and identified their two specific specialities. Firstly, they were unusually resilient and hard-working. Secondly, they knew in a deep way what they wanted. They had determination and direction.
From a motivational perspective, in her TED talk on mental toughness, Duckworth uses the term ‘grit’ to describe the passion and perseverance to achieve your goals. In short, it is your amount of grit, mental toughness and perseverance that predicts your level of success in life, much more than ‘talent’ or any other factor.
“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” – Seneca
You will certainly need grit as a police leader, manager, and supervisor. So, how do you deal with stress? Do you have grit? How do you know?
3. Empathy & Social Awareness
“Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another.” – Alfred Adler
Empathy is the ability to communicate and lead by understanding others’ thoughts, views, and feelings. Empathy is a critical skill for any leader. Empathy can be a nebulous subject for some to get their head around, as I articulate in my blog on neurodiversity in police leadership. Helpfully, Daniel Goleman articulates three types of empathy, operating in different areas of the brain. Putting all three together is a recipe for improved relationship-building as the next step of your emotional awareness:
- Cognitive Empathy: When you hear the phrase “walk a mile in the other person’s shoes,” you’re discussing cognitive empathy. It’s simply having an awareness and understanding of someone else’s perspective; a crucial part of maintaining a good connection and communication. Think for example about questions you may face around decision-making and involving the views of diverse groups.
- Social Empathy: The social side of empathy is sensing immediately what the other person may be feeling. This is how you create rapport with another person. You’re only going to have rapport if you pay full attention to the other person. Listen attentively, because as Goleman plainly states “Poor listening habits are like the common cold of leadership”. I’m sure you’ll be able to think of plenty of examples of the ‘symptoms’ of this common cold in your force!
- Empathic Concern: The third type of empathy is extremely important and underrated. Goleman calls this empathic concern. “If I have someone in my life who’s in distress, I’m not just going to feel it. I’m going to want to help them.” For some more examples to get you thinking here, how are you supporting the wellbeing of those you lead? How would you support your teams with reasonable adjustments? Why and how were you problem solving in the community?
“If you don’t tune in, if you don’t know what’s going on with another person, you’re going to be ‘off’, so, you need to have all three to have a good interaction.” – Daniel Goleman
Social awareness gives you the ability to understand and respond to the needs of others. If you get this wrong, you may well be perceived as uncaring and insensitive. Understanding other people’s feelings is central to emotional intelligence. Enhancing social awareness can be achieved by improving listening skills, thinking before you answer, and providing clear answers. Paying close attention to interactions with or between other people will also assist, as will taking time to think about your feelings.
4. Relationship Management
Relationship management means you know how to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, work well in a team, and manage conflict.
Competence in relationship management is helpfully described by Daniel Goleman as follows:
- Influence: Your ability to build a consensus and win people’s support by being able to focus on what is important to others.
- Leadership: Be the person that others choose to follow.
- Developing others: Recognising their strengths and offering opportunities and challenges to develop them.
- Communication: Plan your communications to ensure the right emotional tone is used.
- Conflict management: Realising when it is arising and taking quick and decisive action to resolve it.
- Teamwork and Collaboration: Defining your success criteria in such a way that everyone can make their own unique and valued contribution.
Stop and Search and Use of Force are certainly contentious issues in policing, affecting trust and confidence with communities. These matters require both emotional intelligence and good communication to resolve, and so can present attractive promotion board question material and presentation scenarios in relation to ‘We Are Emotionally Aware’. Naturally as we’ll see in the next section, such topics can also offer evidence to support promotion applications from the candidate’s perspective (as does the wellbeing and staffing matters discussed earlier).
Let’s Reflect: Example Promotion Evidence for EQ
OK, time to surface and reflect after that deeper dive into emotional intelligence!
As a reminder, EQ can be described as the ability to manage your own emotions in positive ways; to communicate effectively, empathise with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict. This is an important attribute for Sergeants, Inspectors, or anyone else seeking appointment to formal leadership positions.
Ask yourself for example, when have you demonstrated the leadership qualities of a Sergeant or Inspector? What (specifically) was the problem, challenge, or task you faced?
- What did you do?
- How did you do it?
- What was the result or outcome?
Recognising and gathering your promotion evidence in advance is a must. Structure also helps, as I give plenty of examples in my rank-specific promotion toolkits. The behaviours described in the CVF can help prompt further ideas. You can adjust and make final improvements from there.
What follows is a draft example against the CVF competency ‘We are emotionally aware’ at Level 2, but specifically for the Sergeant’s supervisory rank. Have a read through and reflect why you think it’s a good example.
Promotion Question: How have you taken the views of others into account around improving a performance issue? (Do not exceed 400 words)
As A/Sgt I was asked by the Police & Crime Commissioner’s Office to assist at very short notice with our force Independent Advisory Group (IAG) day. Body worn video (BWV) relating to police Stop/Search & Taser use was to be reviewed by the IAG. It was immediately apparent that the scheduled format for presentations was confusing attendees. This risked potential reputational damage to our force if participants were unable to properly scrutinise internal processes & organisational use of force.
I took responsibility to mitigate this by adapting my approach to ensure all information was communicated & delivered impartially & objectively. I personally set the scene to start, by outlining & articulating our force mission & values. I summarised Stop/Search guidance & use of force policy. I directly introduced & explained the context of each video to be reviewed & ensured each participant had an equal chance to listen, comment & ask questions about what they were observing. I then facilitated open discussion between IAG members & force representatives enabling individuals to express opinions. I selected key sections from footage to aid debriefs & I allowed time for each IAG member to talk through concerns. To support fairness & balance, I used ‘StatPic’ to display information about use of force & Stop/Search. This proved helpful & served to spark debate around wider legitimacy & policing by consent. Some police actions were challenged/criticised & although I knew some officers in footage being reviewed, I did not let personal feelings interfere with views being expressed. I remained professional, acknowledging & thanking individuals for their feedback. I advised these issues would be recorded & referred for further scrutiny. I used the opportunity to also highlight/emphasise & recognise good practice e.g., use of NDM & compliance with the Code of Ethics by officers to ensure balance.
I subsequently sought feedback from both the Chair & PCC’s representative on how I might improve my performance/facilitation. Reflecting on this, I decided to design a new force agenda to enable IAG members to access advance briefings more readily to support meaningful engagement & future reviews. I debriefed my own team, sharing learning from this day, using the opportunity to acknowledge their consistent good practice & to communicate/reinforce standards. I used the IAG’s feedback to conduct evidence-based reviews on Stop/Search niches, emphasising the importance of BWV as a driver of public confidence & wider accountability.
Insights and Thoughts
The above is an example from my ‘what works’ toolkit of what good promotion evidence looks like for this CVF question. Remember, for each of the CVF behaviours and values there are specific descriptors. It is helpful to have these to hand when compiling your evidence/examples, as these are what assessors will use to help them score your evidence.
Below is a reminder of the Level 2 leadership descriptors for the CVF competency, ‘We Are Emotionally Aware’. I have highlighted key words and phrases which the above example aligns with. You need not cover every descriptor…
- I consider the perspectives of people from a wider range of backgrounds before taking action.
- I 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.
- I 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.
Scoring promotion application examples requires a degree of ‘interpretation’ of information submitted. Many candidates are unaware of this or how they can maximise the potential of examples submitted. It’s why I provide detailed, structured promotion evidence examples in my digital toolkits for Sergeant and Inspector / Chief Inspector. The fact is that most application forms in promotion processes are typically prepared in haste, which leads to many candidates being unsuccessful at paper sift stage.
There is a widely held (yet mistaken) belief that promotion evidence must ‘hit’ every descriptor for each CVF competency. Not so! In my years of experience supporting officers with successful promotion applications, I find that this belief/perception is often the cause of real angst. I even covered this point in a briefing I provided to Police Scotland assessors earlier this year. If you can align your evidence against all the descriptors, that’s great. However, it is unlikely that your operational or other examples will cover all of them. That’s a key benefit of drafting examples or evidence you might want to use well in advance of a promotion selection process. The other key benefit to writing it down being that also helps prepare you for interviews! Unfortunately, many good candidates don’t do this either, yet it often makes all the difference.
Have another read through the ‘We are Emotionally Aware’ draft example above. Can you see how it aligns with the descriptors? It aligns arguably with all six. ‘Helping to ensure the emotional wellbeing of the team’ was the one I was uncertain about, even though briefing the team and sharing learning points might reasonably be interpreted as doing that… but five out of six is still excellent.
In essence, is this example one that portrays an emotionally aware individual? What do you think? Why? What would you change? Why? Be careful though, by asking yourself such questions you might just immerse yourself into the required thinking ‘zone’ of self-awareness!
Beware of another mistake officers make however: Simply mirroring the language used by the descriptors will not get you very far! For example, you wouldn’t simply say ‘I considered the perspectives of other people before taking action’. Instead, it’s far more important to achieving higher scores to demonstrate how you did this.
We Are Emotionally Aware: Final Thoughts…
Raising your awareness of the role will help you recognise, explain, and contextualise any supporting evidence you may have. You can clearly see dimensions of the Sergeant’s role reflected in the above draft example including setting, communicating, and reinforcing standards, effective communication, supervision, visible leadership, team support, feedback, reflection, and managing performance. A helpful mnemonic and description of the Sergeant’s role can be found in my Interview Success guide, along with a bank of practice promotion board questions to support your effective preparation.
So now may be a good time to reflect, asking yourself in relation to the CVF competency ‘We Are Emotionally Aware’: What evidence do you have?
Kind Regards, Steve
Want to go further? 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.
- Discover the BASIC Mistake Most Police Promotion Candidates MakeThe College of Policing recommends that as an aspiring leader, you take responsibility for driving your personal development. What better way to do that, securing your promotion than with a personal digital toolkit to guide effective preparation? Better still, one […]
- Police Performance: The Return of CompStat?A range of evidence suggests an apparent and imminent return of ‘CompStat’ style performance management in policing. Whether it be presentations by DCCs, reports by ‘think tanks’, the words of Bill Bratton, or announcements by Home Secretaries, the signals are […]