Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Linda Fagan offered remarks on her vision for the service during the third day of the National Naval Officers Association (NNOA), July 28. During her speech, she focused on her intent to transform the total workforce and emphasized the need to develop and retain a diverse officer corps in order to advance mission excellence.
She discussed her yearly Guidance to Board and Panels, which lays out the qualities she hopes to see in Coast Guard leadership. “I’ve published a clear statement of the leadership and character I expect of all officers,” she said. “And that includes the leadership behaviors that build inclusive climates.”
Selection boards and panels will use these considerations as a framework when promoting service members among various ranks. According to Fagan, adaptive and innovative leaders are needed to rise up and meet the demands of an ever-changing workforce.
“As the service transforms our talent management, a cohort of officers will be the first to take career risks by utilizing innovative personnel policies. Boards and panels must recognize that officers who forge new ways to serve are demonstrating leadership and commitment to organizational change,” she penned in her Guidance to Boards and Panels for promotion year 2023 (PY23).
Boards and panels are advised to consider an officer’s leadership potential, even if he or she followed a non-traditional route to their prospective position. This means an officer’s records might look different from their predecessors.
“We’re doing a lot of out-of-the-box talent management practices,” noted Cmdr. David Ratner chief, Boards, Promotions, and Separations Branch Officer Personnel Management (OPM-1). “This is because the organization is changing. And the Commandant’s Guidance reflects that.”
As Ratner pointed out, because the service provides greater opportunities for geographic stability, the Commandant’s guidance informs boards and panels to consider leaders who are consistently performing at a high level, regardless of the location of those assignments. In other words, if officers are growing within a community and demonstrating sustained achievement, then it’s okay that they stay put.
The Commandant’s guidance also stresses the importance of officers who live by the service’s core values of honor, respect, and devotion to duty. She advises that boards and panels consider men and women who exemplify those values and inspire others to meet their own potential.
“Officers are leaders who provide the clarity necessary to successfully complete tasks and who help others understand why the assigned tasks are important. They can see the way ahead through fog and ambiguity and communicate a vision for the future,” said Fagan.
Of equal importance to leadership is followership. The Commandant emphasizes that officers should understand organizational goals, align their own work to these goals, and help others understand the bigger picture. She also highlights how officers should recognize when their subordinates have great ideas and empower them to make them a reality.
From a chief warrant officer to a lieutenant to an officer in the reserves, each rank has unique qualities that boards and panels will examine in order to promote someone next year. However, no matter the rank, the Commandant champions members who foster inclusivity and respect.
“Leaders build inclusive climates that allow everyone, from any background, to succeed,” she stated toward the end of her NNOA speech. “[This] is the leadership that delivers the best mission performance. And that is what I expect from every leader in the Coast Guard.”