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My Coast Guard
Commentary | July 1, 2022

Calling all leaders: Coast Guard releases a step-by-step guide to developing your skills

By Christie St. Clair, MyCG Staff

The Coast Guard is making it easier for members to develop their leadership skills. 

The service just updated its Leadership Development Framework (LDF), the policy and training tool that communicates what the Coast Guard expects from its leaders as they progress in their career. The 28 leadership competencies that are the basis of the framework represent the qualities the Coast Guard says make an effective leader.  

The previous framework clocked in at a hefty 91 pages. The new one? Just eight pages – all written in plain language and organized by the Leadership Competencies five areas of focus at progressing levels of seniority, so you can focus on what you need to know.  

“This guide will help you see the big picture of your leadership development journey, and then intentionally practice individual skills in daily life,” said Rear Adm. Eric Jones, deputy for personnel readiness.  

The LDF will also help supervisors talk about leadership with their people. “The new LDF can be used to guide discussions and trainings about leadership,” added Jones, “And lead conversations with junior members about big topics - such as how to become the best leader they can be - in a very tangible and actionable way.” 

The LDF was last updated in 2006. The new framework was built for the Coast Guard to develop the leaders we need for the future; that work starts today. “Our leadership framework is a key tool for transforming our total workforce and for Coast Guard’s implementation of RW30, which prioritizes creating paths to success as well as modernizing how we manage talent and deliver training,” said Jones. 
The new policy is intentionally designed to be useful for the total workforce, including civilian leadership development. 

Here are some of the other key changes: 

  • Competencies in the foundational, “Leading Self” category will start being developed the moment a member enters the Coast Guard. Progressing from there, the next four pillars give members skills to master at each career stage.  
  • Upon reaching the most senior-level pillar, our members will have developed mastery in all 28 leadership competencies. 
  • The definition of a Coast Guard leader has been updated in the policy to: “A leader is one who influences and inspires toward a goal.” 
  • The updated LDF integrates inclusive leadership principles into a user-friendly tool that is easier to understand.  

The new Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard, Heath Jones, was part of the development team. He says based on conversations he’s had with the fleet, today’s workforce expects something different from their leaders compared to 20 years ago.  

“For our people to feel invested and involved in their career growth, leaders can’t just give marching orders without background and expect buy-in. Our members need to understand ‘the why’ behind what we are asking of them,” said Jones. “The update to the framework clarifies what we mean when we say, ‘Everyone in the Coast Guard is a leader.’ It is now a better resource for our leaders to use as a conversation starter to develop our workforce outside of their evaluations and the classroom.”