Preparing for police promotion to a formal leadership position in the UK requires determination and resilience. Whether you’ve recently passed your Sergeant’s exam and are taking the next steps on your journey, or you are aspiring to Inspector or Chief Inspector, now’s the time for some smart, hard work.
“Be so good they can’t ignore you.” – Steve Martin
Unless you are starting with the end in mind and aiming to ‘be so good they can’t ignore you’, there’s every chance you’ll be left behind. Stranded. That is compared to those who set themselves apart from peers, by focusing on developing themselves as the best police promotion candidates.
Preparation, Preparation, Preparation!
“Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts.” – Edward R. Murrow
Following record numbers achieving success in their NPPF Step 2 Legal Exam recently, police promotion competition has never been fiercer. This means forces have the luxury of choosing from the very best candidates who prevail in the myriad of UK promotion processes.
The above clip is a motivational-oriented snippet from my detailed, new and unique HD 250-minute video masterclass. I emphasise the depth and breadth of preparation required when coaching promotion candidates, in addition to bespoke guidance around interviews, structure, the role, the CVF and much more besides.
“Having struggled to prep due to covid lockdowns, home schooling, deviated shifts and juggling what seems a myriad of plates at the moment, your toolkit was a life saver. Sat my sergeants board and passed 1st time, my presentation and interview were actually a quite pleasant experience when armed with the info provided. The structure and tips are top class.” – Steve new Sergeant
In essence, to become the best candidate, it’s not simply ‘being yourself’. It’s about making a solid commitment to some focused development, to raise your awareness and transform into the best version of yourself. This enables you, when the time comes, to have a professional conversation with a promotion panel about shared values, what’s important to you, and your supporting evidence; all of which coincides with what forces are looking for from future leaders.
Promotion Framework = Set of Behaviours
“If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” – Albert Einstein
UK police forces now align their police promotion processes to the CVF, either using the College of Policing’s published framework or locally-tailored versions with bespoke ‘values’, such as with the Met Police and Police Scotland.
However, many promotion candidates are thrown by the use of unfamiliar terminology including clusters, competencies and requirement to ensure that promotion evidence/examples align to both the level being assessed, most commonly Level 2 for the ranks of Sergeant, Inspector and Chief Inspector. Aligning promotion evidence to these competencies and values can cause immense confusion for those being assessed across all forces.
For some candidates, their force promotion selection process requires a written competency application followed by a structured competency-based interview and other assessments. Other forces don’t require a written application. Some candidates, thankful for this apparent respite, tend to enter an interview process without having written down any tangible evidence or having a meaningful, personal understanding of the CVF. How do I know this? In coaching sessions I’ll often ask aspiring officers some basic questions, to ascertain their level of readiness for interview including. For example:
“How would you summarise the CVF to an aspiring promotion candidate?”
It’s clear from responses that many have not applied themselves to necessary thinking around this assessment framework and it shows. It’s a good place to start a coaching session to encourage thinking and identify knowledge gaps. For now, and as I describe in the video above, a ‘framework’ is simply a mechanism for assessing you against a set of desirable police leadership behaviours. Once you have familiarised yourself with the competency descriptors, you can interpret the framework to support your promotion aspirations and better align your supporting evidence and examples, whether the behaviours are listed as ‘values’ or ‘competencies’.
Thinkers Don’t Need Teachers
“I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make you think.” – Socrates
What can I teach you in my new 4-hour Video Masterclass on promotion? Even though you can now watch it in high-quality HD from the comfort of your own living room, the short answer to that question is nothing. My aim is and has only ever been to support, challenge and respectfully provoke thinking.
“The masterclass helped me look at the bigger picture and think more about the organisation and how my focus should be about how my experience fits into the needs of the police service. It just completely changed how I looked at everything and it was like the penny just dropped.” – Ann new Sgt
I don’t believe candidates should simply be ‘taught’ to pass promotion boards. It’s not something I have ever attempted, because I don’t believe I can teach aspiring promotion candidates anything. What I do seeks to help aspiring police officers become all-round better leaders for policing. It serves much better for the longer term and happens to be a tried and proven technique towards success.
This method includes signposting to ideas, materials and literature. I ask thought-provoking questions, but rarely provide the answers. That space between is where important thinking occurs. If you get stuck, I’ll offer suggestions. Many but not all aspiring candidates bring high levels of enthusiasm, drive and motivation to the table. I find harnessing this to trigger thought and reflection facilitates new perspectives. As a qualified coach/mentor, I believe in every officer’s potential. My role is to raise awareness, encourage personal responsibility and build confidence. I find that once individuals are ‘into’ the thinking zone, they don’t need a teacher. After years of delivering promotion masterclasses and personal coach/mentor sessions, I’m just beginning to recognise and understand that this Socratic approach to promotion selection opportunities is truly what works.
Here’s more on how a coaching style can support your aspirations…
Intelligence-Led Police Promotion
“Intelligence, or the lack of it, determines the probability of success.” – Sun Tzu
Finally, and remaining on the subject of preparation, taking an intelligence-led approach to promotion will help you anticipate the kind of questions you will be asked. Just like the long-standing notion in the UK of ‘intelligence-led policing’, this is all about reducing your uncertainty to achieve successful outcomes.
When you’ve done the preparation to become the best promotion candidate, and have taken time to understand your framework, it’s much easier to anticipate potential interview questions ahead of a promotion board opportunity. You can then practice your structured and evidenced responses, reducing uncertainty and boosting your confidence. Here are some quick examples:
We are emotionally aware: “What kind of leader are you?” might be an example of an open question, while “How will you ensure the wellbeing of your teams?” is an example of a forward-facing question.
Integrity: “Please give an example of how you demonstrate integrity when leading your teams?” is an example of a rear-facing question, more overtly stating the behaviour being assessed in values-based interview questions than ones alluding to ‘doing the right thing’ or ‘challenging the behaviour of others’.
We analyse critically: “Please give an example of when you made a tough decision?” is another rear-facing question that could be used in relation to several ‘values’ or ‘competencies’ being assessed around decision-making.
There’s even a ready-made toolkit to support your preparation and focus, including many more example promotion questions aligned to a variety of ‘competencies’ and ‘values’ used across all police forces.
Action Dictates Priorities…
“Fear of failure is higher when you’re not working on the problem. If you are taking action, you are less worried about failure because you realise you can influence the outcome.” – James Clear
The best promotion candidates get to work on the problem of promotion in advance of any opportunity being announced, to most significantly influence the outcome in their favour. If you would like to take action, below are some unique, in-depth support materials to turbocharge your preparation. You won’t find anything like it anywhere else…
I hope you found this blog helpful and thought-provoking. For more support on your police promotion journey, here’s more free blog content, regular YouTube videos plus the in-depth Rank Success digital toolkits and Video Masterclass, which covers the role at Level 2 of the CVF, provides example evidence, includes 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