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The focus of this exclusive editorial feature written by Steve Cooper is the ‘7 Things interview boards also look for in promotion candidates’ is knowledge of the policing environment you aspire to lead in. Here are the 7 key traits which police promotion boards inherently value:
- 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
This is compiled from the general feedback which candidates receive after their promotion boards, whether they pass or fail. I cover all of these aspects through my downloadable guides and leadership masterclasses, should you wish to get ahead of the curve.
“If you would hit the mark, you must aim a little above it; every arrow that flies feels the attraction of earth.” – H. W. Longfellow
For now and first in the series, I will focus on the knowledge of your force mission and vision. So let’s get to Thing 1…
Thing 1: A good awareness and understanding of your force vision or mission statement
“What is the wider purpose of your role as a police leader, manager and supervisor?”
That’s a question that usually gets my clients straight into a learning and discovery zone, exactly where we need to be to be!
Here we can raise awareness and connect with some wider context that you may not have had chance to consider in any depth. This is essential before a promotion selection process is advertised, when you might find yourself under pressure playing catch up.
Having a good awareness of your force Mission or Vision statement is a critical part of that wider context. Don’t spend too much time on the difference between these two, as confusion exists within and across management teams in organisations around the world!
Talking about vision or mission statements can send most operational cops off to sleep. To avoid that risk it can be helpful, certainly for promotion candidates, to view the subject from an external perspective. For example, we can look to the sports company Nike, who encouraged genuine interest and connection to their aims with a powerful mission statement.
“Crush Adidas” – Nike mission statement, 1960’s
If you worked for Nike in the 1960’s, the Mission Statement was “Crush Adidas”. And everyone knew it!
I didn’t work at Nike, but I’d ‘buy into’ that mission statement. It’s passionate and focused. It served the company well for 20 years aligning the everyday work of its people to achieving the mission – crushing Adidas.
I don’t want you to think that I encourage aspiring sergeants and inspectors to think about crushing other forces (or the public)! I would however encourage you to articulate what your force mission means for you. Practice talking about it out loud.
“If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.” – Steve Jobs
The great English architect Christopher Wren designed St. Paul’s cathedral. One day he walked, unrecognised, among those at work constructing his design. ”What are you doing?” he inquired of one of the workmen. “I am cutting a piece of stone” the man replied. As he went on he put the same question to another. This man replied, “I am earning five shillings two pence a day”. And to a third, he addressed the same inquiry and the man answered, “I am helping Sir Christopher Wren build a beautiful cathedral”. That man had vision. He understood and could see beyond the cutting stone, beyond the earning of his daily wage, to the creation of a work of art – the great cathedral.
Some forces have a vision. Some forces have a mission. Others have a mission and a vision! Either way, it is up to you to familiarise yourself with it. Most force vision and mission statements are a variation of ‘Building Safer Communities’. Here are some examples:
Metropolitan Police: Make London the safest global city. Be the best crime-fighters, by any measure. Earn the trust and confidence of every community. Take pride in the quality of our service so people love, respect and are proud of London’s Met.
BTP: To protect and serve the railway environment and its community, keeping levels of disruption, crime and the fear of crime as low as possible
Devon & Cornwall: We detect and prevent harm; protect the vulnerable and reduce crime. We work together as one team to safeguard communities and neighbourhoods. We are sustainable and resilient and provide a high quality service to the public. We act in accordance with the national Code of Ethics and our Force standards of behaviour
Staffordshire: Keeping our communities safe and reassured
All fine words, but what do they mean to you?
This is a key leadership expectation. Directly or indirectly, a board will want to hear about it from you. Your responses need to be convincing.
When practising out loud, record yourself and listen to how you sound: Be honest. Does it sound like you believe it? If not, the board members are unlikely to believe you either. If you are unable to convince yourself, how will the board be confident that you as a leader will connect others in the service with the mission and values of the organisation?
Good promotion candidates show an awareness of their force’s strategic direction.
Better candidates are able to make links to the mission/vision in their responses to questions asked by the board.
The BEST candidates stand out from others because, to borrow a line from Nike, they ‘Just do it’.