President’s Blog – 26/09/2017 – Could Police Scotland be developing Emotional Intelligence?

Could Police Scotland be developing emotional intelligence? Is it possible for an organisation to develop and display emotional intelligence? The definition of emotional intelligence (as developed by Daniel Goleman) is:

the capability of individuals to recognize their own and other peoples’ emotions and use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior and manage emotions to adapt to environments or achieve goals’.

While emotional intelligence is perhaps an individual characteristic, I wonder for an organisation that is made up of human beings and that is predominately involved in human endeavours, is it possible to see emotional intelligence traits in how an organization behaves? All too often organisations are impersonal, bureaucratic and authoritarian but policing has always been about people and should always be about people – the people we serve and the people who deliver the service. It is surely no accident that we use ‘Police family’ to describe how we feel.

A few things precipitated these thoughts in me over the past few days. The first was the Ethics Conference at Tulliallan on Tuesday 19th September. There were a number of compelling inputs not least from Rev Prof Philip McCormack MBE who spoke about virtues and the humanity involved in thoughts, actions, habits (ethics), behavior and character. Probably most significantly throughout the conference I observed how people were much more open to expressing thoughts and emotions, how honest and frank conversations were happening and how people were expressing personal and professional vulnerability in a desire to learn and grow. There was a sense of a shift in the leadership culture to give people permission to ask questions, to speak the truth to power and avoid the pitfall of sycophantism.

Just after the Ethics Conference I was involved in another CIMplexity leadership training course. The course (fully endorsed and supported by ASPS) which has been running for almost 5 years continues to promote values based decision making, equality and inclusion, self-reflection, learning through confident vulnerability and the power of peer/partner support. CIMplexity never ceases to impress me how it reinforces the importance of really listening to our own people and really listening to others who are critical friends. The course has a focus on knowing what the right thing to do is and then actually doing it regardless of the personal consequences so that we are more concerned about delivering the actual service to citizens and communities than about egos and personal reputation. We explore how allowing our actions to speak louder than words generates authenticity and consent and how that is essential in trust and confidence.

Hot on the heels of CIMplexity I attended the National Police Memorial events in Cardiff to commemorate all the Officers who have died or been killed while in service. It was moving to remember fallen colleagues. It was good to know that policing in the UK is still very much a genuine vocation. It was humbling to see the ‘Police family’ come together in remembrance and celebration. It was amazing to feel the emotions that sit at the heart of the Police service.

So, having explained the context of my past few days, back to my thought – is Police Scotland developing emotional intelligence? I am not sure if the academics would agree with my musings, but Police Scotland does seem to be growing and maturing. We have come through the vulnerabilities of infancy, we’ve perhaps had some experiences akin to the terrible two’s, we’ve had our share of testing of boundaries but maybe now as a 5 year old Police Scotland is starting to mature, maybe now Police Scotland is valuing the so called softer skills of the men and women who make up the service, maybe now we are starting to (re)connect with the vocation that Policing is all about, maybe now Police Scotland is starting to grow a little bit of organisational emotional intelligence.


Ivor Marshall

Chief Superintendent


Association of Scottish Police Superintendents