“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
Competencies communicate how an organisation wants its people to behave. They refer to the behaviours and/or personal qualities required to perform the role you aspire to. ‘We are emotionally aware’, is a competency assessed in UK police promotion processes for Sergeant, Inspector and other ranks. The World Economic Forum (WEF) alludes to it in the Future of Jobs report, highlighting the top ten skills required by first and second line managers from 2020 onwards.
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.”
In this blog we take a look at the competency ‘We are emotionally aware’ and the official available guidance, followed by a more in-depth view of the different elements of emotional intelligence.
The Competency and Values Framework (CVF)
“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 (COP) sets out nationally recognised behaviours and values for assessing police promotion candidates. For Sergeant, Inspector and Chief Inspector candidates, competencies are assessed at Level 2 of the framework.
The College of Policing guidance for ‘We are emotionally aware’ consists of the following descriptors:
- 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.
At first glimpse, this appears to be just a list of statements. If you require further assistance to interpret them, the guidance simply refers you back to the list:
“It is expected individuals will use professional judgement to assess the complexity and suitability of any evidence provided against the framework”
Signposting and Direction
“A lot of people never use their initiative because no-one told them to.” – Banksy
Rather than becoming frustrated with this, as many candidates do, it’s exactly the time to demonstrate this competency! One aspect of emotional intelligence is ‘self-awareness’; insight to your own emotions and understanding your strengths or limitations. Another aspect is ‘self-management’; your resilience and ability to remain calm under pressure. With shifts and other life commitments, compiling a promotion application and/or prepping for a promotion board with just a few weeks notice can certainly put you under pressure.
The list of competency descriptors offers 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 have to support the case for promoting you. This is when the realisation dawns; that it is not easy preparing for promotion, it’s hard.
Underestimating the time it can take to articulate your promotion evidence and align it with competency descriptors provided; is something many unsuccessful candidates have in common. This is partly because the CVF requires a focus on how you achieved tasks, not just what you achieved. So time spent now, familiarising yourself with the CVF descriptors is time well spent…
“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 only have to scratch the surface of the topic of promotion and you’ll find strongly held views and opinions.
In recent years it is true that different frameworks have been used to assess promotion candidates. Aspiring Metropolitan officers have had to contend with three changes to promotion frameworks in the last few years alone! For many, this is understandably a source of significant frustration and ‘change fatigue’. Here are some recently used frameworks.
- The Integrated Competency Framework (ICF)
- Policing Professional Framework (PPF)
- Metropolitan Performance Framework (MPF)
- The Metropolitan Leadership Framework (MLF)
- The Competency and Values Framework (CVF)
Luckily, all forces are now aligning to the CVF, which at least provides some national consistency (albeit with local “tailoring”).
“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 an interview opportunity and it’s often what makes the difference. Being interviewed with only a superficial knowledge of the competency being assessed is a choice, in the same way developing your understanding well ahead of your board is a choice.
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; who persuades 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 45 minutes 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 (if you are supported for promotion). Being told you were unsuccessful in a selection process can feel like the organisation has rejected you. Some candidates react emotionally. For those with growth mind-sets, 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 gained.
In my previous blog, ‘CVF: We Deliver, Support and Inspire‘, I alluded to the fact that your force instructions and CVF guidance published by the College of Policing 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 new competency on the police promotion scene, but its importance in terms of underpinning communication, trust and importantly, leadership has been known for years.
If you are to be assessed around your capacity for emotional intelligence you may not want to rely on the competency guidance alone. Seizing the opportunity to discover more about it’s relevance to leadership helps you interpret the competency descriptors and align your promotion evidence to ensure a better ‘fit’.
A Deeper Dive, A Different Take…
“Few travel far enough along the path of personal or professional development to realise their full potential.” – Sir John Whitmore
Well-read candidates will be aware that Daniel Goleman defines emotional intelligence into four aspects:
- Self-awareness: Having insight to your own emotions and 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, while having 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.
1. Self-Awareness: ‘Know Thyself’
“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
Self-awareness is 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 about 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. Getting honest feedback including soliciting negative feedback is a good way to develop self-awareness and insight.
Various CPD instruments, tools or methods can also assist with this 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).
- 360-degree feedback: 360-degree feedback is a useful source of learning about yourself, from the perspective of others you work with. A typical 360-degree feedback is conducted via a questionnaire and the results will score you on personal attribute themes such as leadership, teamwork, communication, decisiveness and adaptability. This snapshot then gives you a basis from which to recognise your strengths and take action to improve in areas requiring development.
- Johari’s Window: Viewing yourself through Johari’s window is useful to gain insight into your behaviour and that of others. In short, the window has four quadrants, with the aim being to expand the ‘Known Self’.
“Smart people learn from everything and everyone, average people from their experiences, stupid people already have all the answers.” – Socrates
The Greek philosopher Socrates believed the highest form of human excellence is to question one’s self and others and that wisdom comes from introspection. He believed he was wise because he knew that he had no knowledge, whereas others thought they were wise but did not know their ignorance.
Introspective questions such as ‘How are your values?‘ are powerful, because they compel you to look inward for answers and in doing so enhance your self-awareness.
Defining your values forces you to decide what is most important in your life. Only you can decide what they are for you. It’s an essential step and a great exercise for anyone who aspires to lead others e.g. the position of sergeant or inspector in itself, does not contain values. Only when the role is occupied does it take on your values. If your values ‘mesh’ with your force and wider policing values, promoting you to that position is a good fit.
Given that you will ‘behave’ according to your values and that those values can be defined, and discussed, it is not surprising that you may be required to share some insights about your personal values with your interview panel. So how are your values?
- What is important to you?
- How do your values inform your actions?
- What is the leadership you need to provide?
This is important because 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 the ability to control your own emotions. Effective self-management is an important skill that underpins resilience. A significant question if you are aiming to occupy any leadership position is: 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.
If you are able to effectively manage stress in a leadership role, you’ll be more emotionally resilient. Emotionally resilient people tend to:
- Have realistic and attainable expectations and goals
- Be empathetic toward other people
- Be effective communicators with good people skills
- Show good judgment and problem-solving skills
- Feel 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 their long-term goals, despite difficulties, obstacles or barriers encountered. It is a collection of attributes that allow a person to persevere through difficult circumstances, such as difficult competitive situations, and emerge without losing confidence e.g. not all candidates succeed at their first attempt at promotion.
Angela Lee Duckworth studied high achievers and believed they were special in two specific ways. First they were unusually resilient and hard-working and 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 more than ‘talent’ or any other factor. You will need it as a police leader, manager and supervisor.
Do you have grit? Which way do you believe you think?
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. Daniel Goleman suggests that there are three types of empathy that operate in different areas of the brain. Putting all three together is a recipe for better relationships:
- Cognitive Empathy: When you hear the phrase “walk a mile in the other person’s shoes,” you’re discussing cognitive empathy. It’s awareness of and understanding someone else’s perspective, which is a crucial part of maintaining a good connection and communication.
- Social Empathy: The social side of empathy is sensing immediately what the other person is 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, as Goleman plainly states “Poor listening habits are like the common cold of leadership”.
- Empathic Concern: The third type of empathy is extremely important and equally 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.”
“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 seen 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 other people and taking time to think about your feelings will also assist.
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 as described by Daniel Goleman includes:
- 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.
Ok, time to surface after that deeper dive into the subject. Try now revisiting the CVF competency descriptors for ‘We are emotionally aware’ and consider how being “emotionally aware” underpins communication, trust and leadership.
Now what evidence do you have?
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