My Coast Guard
Commentary | Nov. 5, 2021

Retired Vice Adm. Manson Brown shares mentoring lessons on National Mentoring Day  

By MyCG Staff

Former Coast Guard Vice Adm. Manson K. Brown conveyed the impacts of mentorship during a keynote address at the Coast Guard National Mentoring Day, Oct. 27, at Coast Guard Headquarters.  

Brown, who retired as Deputy Commandant for Mission Support after more than 30 years as an officer in the Coast Guard, spoke from his own experience on both sides of a mentoring partnership, noting value of recent technology assisted mentoring matches that the Coast Guard Mentor Program provides.  

“Mentoring is the vehicle that allows all of us to tap into the power of the Long Blue Line,” Brown said, “I’ve been mentored by the chiefs of the boat, command chiefs, senior enlisted advisors, and command master chiefs throughout my career. Chiefs guided me to be a better listener so I could gain a deeper understanding of the needs of the crew,” noting the gamut of personal, professional, formal, situational, and informal mentoring experiences.   

Brown summarized these mentoring “sea stories” into key lessons to carry with you when you explore the mentoring program opportunities:  

Mentors:  

  • Mentoring is a leadership imperative. If you are a supervisor, developing others should be a routine part of your day. 
  • Your mentees should not all look like you. 
  • Take the initiative in helping to break through the wall of distrust that often exists between subordinates and superiors. 
  • Where appropriate, work out a development plan with your mentee and be upfront about the desired end state and time frame for the relationship. 
  • When your mentee thanks you, tell them that their only obligation to you is to pass it on. 

Mentees:  

  • If you don’t have a mentor, find one. I generally had two to three mentors at any one time.  
  • If you struggle to find a mentor, join an organization focused on professional development such as the National Naval Officers Association or the Women’s Leadership Symposium. Or sign up for the Mentoring Program. 
  • If you observe someone you think might be a good mentor for you, simply ask them. Asking another to be your mentor is one of the highest compliments in our profession. Mentors are generally more than happy to help. 
  • Your mentors should not all look like you. Seek mentors to gain knowledge or insight that you don’t possess. Often, those things reside with your peers or subordinates. 
  • Mentoring must be purposeful. Be specific in telling a potential mentor what you seek from the relationship.   
    • Do you want to strengthen a weakness such as public speaking?  
    • Do you want to become more competitive for advancement or promotion?  
    • Do you seek wisdom about a particular life’s challenge? 
    • When a mentor gives you advice, use it or tell them why you don’t plan to use it. Your mentor will probably move on if you are either disengaged or not progressing. 
    • The best form of appreciation is to stay in touch even after the mentoring relationship is over.  But your primary obligation is to pass it on when it’s your time to be the mentor. 

Brown believes mentoring empowers the total workforce to achieve mission effectiveness and personal success. A recording of the National Mentoring Day event is available online and includes Brown’s remarks as well as remarks from the service’s workforce focused senior leaders. 

Through organizational assessments, the federal employee viewpoint survey and through both the women’s retention and URM studies expressed a strong desire for increased access to mentoring. The Coast Guard listened and responded by launching the Coast Mentoring Program May 2021. On average, about 100 service members and civilian employees enroll every month.  

Opening remarks were provided by Michelle Godfrey, Director of Civilian Human Resources, Diversity and Leadership and Interim Senior Advisor for Diversity and Inclusion (SADI), who announced the release of the mentoring programs expansion into app-based service, and the publication of a new unit mentoring program toolkit.  

Along with planning resources, communities and alerts, the app-based service expands usability to cutter personnel and members with limited access to a Coast Guard workstation.  

App users can opt in to receive instant notifications that will be displayed on their mobile device screen whenever they receive a message, which will improve communication between mentees and mentors. The app also includes many of the same features as the web-based program including the ability to filter and search for mentors, connecting with a mentor, sending instant messages, setting goals, sending meeting invitations, joining a community, sharing resources, posting to a discussion, and so much more. Apple device users can download the Chronus Mobile application in the Apple App Store, while Android users can download Chronus Mobile Mentoring in the Google Play Store.   

The multimedia toolkit and “at a glance” information provided can guide discussions about the Mentoring Program during staff briefings and other staff meetings. Available on the Office of Leadership’s portal page. it includes the following: 

  • A cover letter explaining how to use the toolkit 
  • A Mentoring Program video featuring program enrollees and a video from Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Jason M. Vanderhaden sharing the many benefits of mentoring and how it has helped to shape their careers 
  • A PowerPoint presentation to be shared with the workforce that explains the program and the benefits of mentoring 
  • The Mentoring Program brochure that can be shared with personnel 
  • Facts-At-A-Glance to help facilitate discussions about the Mentoring Program and how it benefits employees as they pursue personal and professional goals. 

Rear Adm. Eric Jones, Assistant Commandant of Human Resources, presented a Coast Guard Meritorious Team Commendation to more than 60 staff members who developed and launched the first of its kind program.   

About the Coast Guard Mentoring Program 

The Mentoring Program is designed to support our active duty, reservist, and civilian workforce around the globe in garrison or afloat.  The program offers four tracks including one-to-one mentoring, mentoring communities and flash mentoring. The program supports the diverse and unique personal and professional goals of our workforce, as well as their continuous leadership development growth.  

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