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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Dec. 9, 2020

Leadership and Management School: Professional development in a virtual environment

By Janki Patel, MyCG Writer

The Leadership and Management School (LAMS) is now offered virtually as a one-week course to enlisted active-duty or reserve workforce members wanting to advance to the rank of first-class petty officer wanting to enhance their supervisory skills as first-line supervisors or mid-level managers.  

The course is open to 12 students per class and covers the key Coast Guard leadership competencies and skills: 

  • Communicating effectively
  • Influencing others positively
  • Creating an environment that motivates performance
  • Getting the job done while taking care of subordinates
  • Encouraging personal ethics
  • Promoting teamwork
  • Culture of respect 
  • Conflict management and resolution 

LAMS classes are held weekly throughout the year.

Taught by a pair of instructors from one of three training centers: New London, Connecticut, Yorktown, Virginia, and Petaluma, California, a typical day includes a morning of independent (asynchronous) work. Students operate at their own pace to review PowerPoint slides, case studies and other materials. During the afternoons, they meet for live interactive sessions to review and discuss the morning’s work.

“Being able to take LAMS remotely was extremely helpful because it enabled me to be able to continue caring for a sick family member. The instructors were very accessible and helpful,” said reserve Petty Officer 2nd Class Thea N. Ritter, an intelligence specialist. 

“While body language was difficult to read and learn about virtually, in today's remote world, it was also helpful to learn about the impact body language has in a remote setting. LAMS is a worthwhile course because it takes concepts we learn about in trainings to a whole new level,” added Ritter. 

In addition to the flexibility the course offers, students are encouraged to share their own experiences, which elevates the interactive experience.

“Providing the engagement and guidance of the instructors afforded the students a safe learning environment to examine case study scenarios and to speak freely of their own experiences. It is extraordinarily difficult to foster this type of learning atmosphere virtually; however,  I believe the instructors and the LAMS online program have successfully achieve this desired environment, allowing the students to get the most from the course,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Samuel H. Freedman, LAMS Instructor and machinery technician from New London.

“Having attended this class virtually was the biggest success in overcoming the adversity and limitations of the pandemic on my Coast Guard career. The course helped me improve and hone in on my critical thinking skills in developing personally and professionally as well as in dealing with potential hostile situations positively and effectively,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Nabil N. El Mehdaoui , a reserve maritime enforcement specialist. “The biggest take away for me was the different models in effective communications and developing others.”

The new virtual curriculum is working well. In October, LAMS students scored an average of 55% on a pre-test of their leadership and management knowledge. After the course, they scored 93%. 

“The results suggest that the students are retaining the knowledge, better equipping them to become more successful and effective leaders in the fleet,” said Freedman.

The students’ success is due to dedicated instructors who spent months developing and then refining the new virtual approach. 

"I am extremely proud of the dedication of the U.S. Coast Guard LAMS instructors who played an integral part of developing an innovative solution to deliver LAMS online," said Capt. Aaron "Muddy" Waters, commanding officer of the Leadership Development Center in New London. "Their efforts are helping to build a more responsive Coast Guard training system that focuses on meeting the needs of the students, wherever they may be located. The success of this course's transition highlights our ability to leverage technology and successfully deliver training to develop the future leaders of the Coast Guard."