5 Great Reads for Promotion Candidates 1
Steve Cooper
Steve Cooper is Police Hour's police promotion expert. He supports police officers aspiring for promotion to Sergeant, Inspector and Chief Inspector.
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“Not every reader is a leader, but every leader is a reader.” – Harry S. Truman

The quote above alludes to the importance of your continuous professional/personal development (CPD) when applying for promotion in UK police forces. A potential interview question you can practice ahead of your promotion board might be, “What are you doing to develop yourself for the next rank or anyone else?” A reading list is a good start, staying abreast of local, national, policing and leadership issues.

You will likely be assessed against the Competency & Values Framework (CVF). Taking care of your development and that of the people you will lead is overtly mentioned as part of the CVF competency, ‘We Take Ownership’. Development is often alluded to in the essential criteria of other CVF competencies relevant to the rank. CPD also remains the number 1 recommendation of the College of Policing’s ‘Leadership Review’.

Simply reading is a great way to begin your CPD and an essential ongoing part of your learning and raising your awareness. So, what are you reading? Note: social media scrolling doesn’t count! Similarly, reading all your force policies is time wasted. When you consider that you could spend 1,000 lifetimes reading all the books that exist on leadership and management. Here are a few places you can get started with some smart, targeted preparation…


1. The CVF – College of Policing

College Policing CVF

“If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” – Albert Einstein

You will likely be assessed in whole or in part against the CVF throughout your promotion process. Despite there being a range of promotion processes across the UK, police forces generally align their assessment and scoring to the CVF. Police Scotland’s shift to the CVF this year caused significant confusion among candidates. Yet all candidates are able to give their preparation a meaningful boost by learning to love the CVF.

The College publish extensive CVF reading materials for candidates on their ‘Professional Development’ site. The College appear to favour putting initiatives into circular visual models, as with their leadership review summary. Their summary depiction of the CVF is shown above. However, rather than regurgitating unintuitive graphics, I translated the CVF as per the image below and encourage candidates to interpret some of the woolly language to make it meaningful on a personal level. I also like to explain how to build your evidence and connect the 4 CVF values to the foundation stone of the CVF, the policing ‘Code of Ethics’.

CVF for promotion ranks

Read more on this dedicated CVF blog, maybe even developing your understanding of your force’s competency framework through the use of mnemonics. If you want more detail, try downloading a comprehensive eGuide or secure your place on an upcoming ‘What Works’ Masterclass.


2. ‘Leadership Review’ – College of Policing

College Leadership Review police

“Police leaders should influence and drive the required culture change by demonstrating their own commitment to CPD.” – CoP Leadership Review, Recommendation 1

With the importance of CPD outlined above, reading is the easiest way to start. The Leadership Review isn’t just about CPD however. It includes a range of themes in which policing aspires to improve leadership, structured through a range of recommendations. You’ll notice how they dovetail with the behaviours and values from the competency frameworks. For example, improving culture, valuing diversity and difference, empowering others, recognising various forms of development, and setting and maintaining standards.


3. Policing Vision 2025 – NPCC & APCC

Police Vision 2025

“When you stop learning, you start dying.” – Albert Einstein

The Policing Vision 2025 was published in 2016, but remains relevant now to the organisation and importantly, your assessors. Created jointly by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC), it outlines key challenges facing policing and how they might be met at the strategic level.

This is a particularly useful read, considering a common question asked across UK police promotion presentations tends to be along the lines of: “Please outline the key challenges facing this force and how you will help meet them?” Such questions on a promotion board don’t come any easier – at least for well-prepared candidates!


4. Future Operating Environment 2040 – College of Policing

Future Operating Model 2040

“A good leader realises that they are always a work in progress.” – Steve Cooper

Not quite ‘Bladerunner 2049’, yet the Future Operating Environment 2040 is still projecting pretty far ahead. This recently published report and ‘toolkit’ is based around England & Wales, but the trends, scenarios and challenges are applicable to all UK police forces. It is the result of long-term horizon-scanning by the College. In many aspects it provides an updated position with more detail on the broad assumptions and challenges described in the Policing Vision 2025. For example, the word ‘pandemic’ is now mentioned 18 times!

Whatever national or local strategies/challenges are published, a useful insight would be to recognise that change is the only constant. As a leader operating in today’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world (VUCA), the future is hard to predict. For example, 12 months ago, no forces had anticipated a global pandemic and had in place preparatory activity to enable quick implementation of new ways of working (from home), massively revised training priorities, significant changes to recruiting officers, while policing unprecedented new laws limiting citizens’ freedoms yet still ‘policing by consent’. Events were entirely unpredictable.

So it’s clearly a waste of time for most trying to predict the future exactly. In dealing with this ‘VUCA world’, a better use of your time in preparing for promotion and leadership ambitions is looking inwards to your emotional intelligence and building your resilience. That will stand the test of time. Being emotionally aware and with the resilience to lead policing through such change is so important, the CVF includes it as a dedicated behaviour against which you will be assessed: ‘We are Emotionally Aware’.


5. Force Vision, Fast Track Guidance and More…

Reading for promotion

“Its what you read when you don’t have to, that determines what you will be when you can’t help it. – Oscar Wilde

There are a great deal more places you can visit, so I’ll leave you with a suite of further options in this last section. Did you know for example, a hidden gem buried in plain sight is bespoke guidance for ‘fast-track’ candidates with high potential. I believe all promotion candidates clearly have high potential, so encourage my clients to read this material.

Familiarising yourself with your force mission, vision and strategic priorities is essential. Here’s an interesting video of Alan Sugar stressing the importance of research about your organisation. Note any particular challenges and priorities, then consider how you could contribute to creating a brighter future under your leadership.

I have also just begun a weekly YouTube series to share books that inspire me and encourage aspiring officers into a regular reading routine. Some say ‘there’s nothing new under the sun’, however different authors articulate different experiences that resonate differently to different people to learn the timeless lessons in their own way. I distil key snippets of learning that may help you navigate your path to promotion. I’m pleased to share the first ‘All Leaders Read’ video in this new regular series:

I hope you found this blog useful. It would be remiss of me to leave out other free blog content plus the more in-depth Rank Success digital toolkit, covering the role at Level 2 of the CVF, providing example evidence, including all stages of the promotion process and much, much more! You can also use code POLICEHOUR20 at checkout, to save 20% on any Rank Success digital promotion toolkits or bundles.

Kind Regards, Steve


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5 Great Reads for Promotion Candidates