Five Reasons you will never be promoted to Sergeant

You will be a capable leader...but you're not one now

By TopSpot Training

This article is provided by and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Police1.

Being a good police officer does not guarantee that you will promote. In fact, it is a common occurrence that the most qualified officers do not promote. Often times this is due to a lack of preparation for the examinations, but frequently, failure to promote can be attributed to several self-destructive behaviors. Here are five of those behaviors, and why they will keep you from promoting to sergeant.

1) You are honest
…but you’re too honest. Being a leader requires diplomacy, and not knowing how to pick your battles or when to hold your tongue is a surefire way to derail your career. Honesty is a virtue, but it is dangerous to use it as a justification for always speaking your mind. Just because you have an opinion does not mean that you always need to share it! Learn to draw a distinction between your personal opinion and your professional opinion; sometimes how you deliver a message can make all the difference in how it is received and how you are perceived.

2) You do your job
…and nothing more. Competition for promotion is tough, so don’t expect to promote if you don’t go the extra mile. Just showing up to work and being competent won’t provide you with the experience or exposure you need to be promoted, so find opportunities to speak, train, and educate. Take that extra assignment that no one seems to want, serve on committees, and take on special projects. Become a leader in your local or statewide law enforcement association. Always be on the lookout for activities that will make you stand out from the crowd.

3) You don’t play office politics
…and you’re losing the game. Like or or not, you have a relationship with everyone that you work with, and at the end of the day those people can either hurt or help your career. You’re not going to like everyone and not everyone is going to like you, but a good leader is able to work with people- even the difficult ones. Reaching out to those you don’t like or don’t trust may feel unsettling, but it’s for a greater good. A good leader knows how to have the time, attention, and discipline needed to manage relationships, and that’s what office politics are all about.

4) Your co-workers like you
…but your superiors doubt your resolve to lead. There is nothing wrong with building strong bonds and hanging out with your co-workers, but know that it is important to be able to transition from friend to boss. One of the number one concerns command staff express when promoting a new supervisor is, when the time comes, will that supervisor be willing to confront, discipline, and even terminate a friend. If you do get promoted, it is very likely that you will lose some work friends, so strike a balance between friends at work and in your private life. Be friendly at work, but don’t allow the workplace to become a social exercise.

5) You will be a capable leader
…but you’re not one now. If you have not proven that you are a capable leader by now, why should anyone speculate that you will be? Your credibility as a leader is always in question, and you begin auditioning for leadership your first day on the job. Superiors may be on the lookout for talent, but it’s your responsibility to gain leadership experience and get noticed. Be an informal leader on your shift or in your work unit.  Lead one of the committees or special projects you volunteered for. Take charge of the Explorer Scout or Cadet program. Organize this year’s Christmas party. Maybe coach a sports team or lead an event for the Special Olympics. All leadership experience, inside or outside of your agency, is relevant and valuable. Learn from it.

About TopSpot Training
Nothing is more important to TopSpot Training than your success in the promotional process. TopSpot Training offers hundreds of training videos-- featuring real law enforcement officers answering difficult oral board questions-- and a comprehensive, easy-to-use training curriculum. For more information on the promotional interview process and how to increase your chances of success, visit

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