Addressing the Need for Leadership Development as a Human Performance Issue in the United States Coast Guard: An Intervention Designed for MLC LANT

December 1, 2005

A paper written for “Developing the Organization’s Human Capital” (Leadership 8530) in the Fischler School of Education & Human Services of Nova Southeastern University.Introduction: The Case for Leadership Development as a
Human Performance Problem in the United States Coast Guard

The United States Coast Guard is unique among federal agencies in the United States. The Coast Guard defines itself as a maritime, military, multi-mission organization. The Coast Guard is maritime, in that all the service’s roles and responsibilities center around the maritime environment; the Coast Guard is military, in that it is a component of the Armed Forces and is composed primarily of military members; the Coast Guard is multi-mission in that, over the years, the roles and responsibilities bestowed on the service have grown to more than a dozen mission areas ranging from protecting living marine resources to homeland security to search & rescue.

The Coast Guard is unique also because it is the sole Armed Force of the United States which is both a military organization and a law enforcement organization. It is the only Armed Force which has the authority and tasking to regularly enforce laws, treaties, and international agreements within the boundaries of the United States. Another unique factor for the Coast Guard is that it is the smallest of the Armed Forces with 39,000 active duty members, just over 8000 reserve members, and fewer than 7500 civilian employees. (U.S. Coast Guard, 2005) By comparison, the United States Marine Corps is more than four times the size of the Coast Guard. (Department of Defense, 2005) These unique factors are, however, commonly known and commonly discussed. A unique factor which seldom arises when describing the service is the fact that the Coast Guard has no political appointees within the agency. Every position in the agency, including those which create or support policy, is filled by a military member or a civil servant from the competitive or special appointment authority. More than 3,000 civilian employees of the federal government are political appointees who serve at specific request of the President or other senior officials; none are with the Coast Guard. (A. Pippen, personal communication, November 18, 2005)

Coast Guard Culture and the Impact on Performance

That the Coast Guard does not have political appointees forms a fundamental cultural aspect of the agency. Gracey, the Commandant of the Coast Guard from 1982 to 1986, noted that the lack of political appointees impacted the service; he related a conversation with the department deputy secretary who told Gracey that the Coast Guard had to jump through hoops other agencies did not, “Because you’re the only agency that’s not headed by a political appointee. Therefore, you owe no allegiance to the President….Your loyalties are to the people within the organization, not to anybody outside.” (Gracey, p. 545-546) As Phillips (2003) notes, the Coast Guard has a set of cultural norms which form the basis of action within the Coast Guard. Phillips identifies 16 aspects of Coast Guard culture. While one of those aspects is not “has no political appointees,” there are norms such as “promote team over self,” “eliminate the frozen middle,” and “empower the young” which are, in a sense, strong because of the Coast Guard’s independence as an agency.

This independence was seen this past autumn in the Coast Guard’s response to the hurricanes which hammered the Gulf Coast region. Knight Ridder Newspapers reviewed official actions before and after Katrina’s ramrod attack on New Orleans; their research “reveals a depth of government hesitancy and lack of urgency that may have cost scores of peoples their lives.” (2005, para. 1) Knight Ridder also noted that “no senior official was given oversight responsibilities” until well after the storm winds and rains cleared the Big Easy. (para. 12) In addition, Knight Ridder makes the observation that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which “seemed unable to grasp the magnitude of the disaster,” was an agency whose “top ranks (were) filled by political appointees and its budget hit deep by cuts.”

In contrast to the analysis of FEMA’s performance, or the performance of nearly every other federal agency, the Coast Guard received accolades and was heralded as true, prepared, life savers. A Washington Post columnist called the Coast Guard’s response “a silver lining in the storm.” (Barr, 2005) National Public Radio praised the Coast Guard for its quick response. (Arnold, 2005) The Federal Times called the Coast Guard’s efforts a “beacon of excellence.” (Banco, 2005) And, all this response was accomplished by a service which has fewer total military members than the number of National Guardsmen who actually responded to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. (Department of Homeland Security, n.d.) And the Coast Guard maintained ongoing operations around the nation, and, indeed, around the world, owing no allegiance to any person outside the organization other than the citizens of the United States.

Leadership’s Impact on Performance

Blazey (1997) states, “High-performing organizations outrun their competition by delivering increasing value to stakeholders and improving organizational capabilities.” (p. 61) He also notes that good leaders “convey a sense of urgency to reduce the resistance to change that prevents the organization from taking the steps that these values demand. They serve as role models by reinforcing and communicating the core values by their words and actions; words alone are not enough.” (p. 62) Banco (2005) notes the Coast Guard’s response to the Katrina “proved its leaders and rank and file were committed to the agency’s mission, vision and values.” He also notes the Coast Guard provides a “case study in how to manage change in an ever-changing world.” Scott (2003, p. 26) notes, “organizational performance is the result of a complex set of interactions among people; the methods, materials, and equipment they use; and the environment and culture in which they exist.”

Since the Coast Guard grows its own leaders, leadership development is a critical success factor for the entire service. Developing leaders will help the service with performance today while, at the same time, preparing the agency for the future. Tomorrow’s leaders are part of the Coast Guard today. The entirety of the Coast Guard’s senior leadership in 2020 is, today, serving as Coasties. The service must grow leaders, and today’s leaders recognize this critical success factor. In the last several years, the Coast Guard has begun several initiatives to develop leaders. The service established a leadership development center at the Coast Guard Academy; the mission of the center is to “improve the Coast Guard’s performance” through leadership development and, specifically “training members to demonstrate leadership competencies, providing leadership and quality development efforts, and identifying future needs through research and assessment.” (U. S. Coast Guard, n.d.) The Leadership Development Center seeks Coast Guard personnel to “grow in the practice of leadership.”

Another initiative implemented recently is the Unit Leadership Development Program, an effort to drive leadership training, education, coaching, and development to the “unit level.” A unit is the smallest organizational element with a commanding officer or an officer-in-charge and is the primary element in defining organizational membership within the Coast Guard.

A Perceived Need at Maintenance & Logistics Command Atlantic

One of the Coast Guard’s largest units is the Maintenance & Logistics Command Atlantic staff in Norfolk, Virginia. More than 450 military members and civilians work in downtown Norfolk providing engineering, personnel, legal, and health & safety support and oversight to all Coast Guard units east of the Rockies. In addition to maintaining all the Coast Guard’s cutters and boats, the Maintenance & Logistics Command handles emergent issues such as disaster response to support Coast Guard units and supplemental staffing needs. Hurricane Katrina stretched the support community as much as it stretched the operational community.

While the Maintenance & Logistics Command provides support, resources, and assistance to the field, it is, first and foremost, a staff unit; nearly all employees, military and civilian, work in cubicle farms. Because of the nature of the office environment – which is significantly than operational, non-staff, Coast Guard units – the senior leaders believe that leadership development is more difficult than in other locations. They are unsure of the effectiveness of leadership development, a process which is a critical success factor for the unit and the entire Coast Guard.

Review of Related Leadership and Performance Literature

The Hay Group, an international management consulting firm, has completed research which indicates “a direct correlation between superior leadership and bottom line performance.” Their data shows that “up to 70% of differences in climate can be attributable to effective leadership and improvements in climate can impact performance by up to 30%.” (Hay Group, n.d.) Their longitudinal work with IBM from 1996 through 2003 showed that leadership competencies can be identified, that effective use of specific leadership competencies drive performance excellence for work groups and organizations, and that organizationally-needed competencies can change over time due to changing external environments, challenges, and opportunities. (Tischler, 2004)

The Impact of Culture on Organizational Performance

Rashid, Sambasivan, & Johari (2003) note that organizational culture – “a set of values, beliefs, and behavior patterns that form the core identity of organizations, and help in shaping employee’s behavior” – has an influence on the performance of the organization. Zenger notes organizational leadership is “ultimately all about results. If leaders do not produce good results for organizations, then they really aren’t good leaders. They may be a wonderful human being, very ethical and honest… I don’t think you could say they were very good leaders.” (Madsen & Gygi, 2005, p. 92) For Zenger, a positive impact on the organization’s results is paramount and an outcome of excellent leadership. Reid & Hubbell (2005) write that organizational excellence is driven by a performance culture which is shaped by organizational leaders.

Strategy and Organizational Performance

Bonomo and Pasternak (2005, p. 11) note that senior leaders must “establish and communicate their strategic priorities” in order to deliver high performance in complex organizations. Blazey (1997, p. 63) goes so far as to specify that a significant portion of senior leader’s time, as much as 60% to 80%, should be spent in visible… (certain) leadership activities, such as goal setting, planning, reviewing performance, recognizing and rewarding high performance, and spending time understanding and communicating with customers and suppliers.” Wongrassamee, Gardiner, & Simmons (2003) also suggest that performance must be measured by a set of “balanced” measures which are tied to an organization’s “strategy and long-term vision.” (p. 15) Schermerhorn & McCarthy (2004, p. 46) suggest “individual behaviour that is discretionary, not directly or explicitly recognized by the formal reward system, and that in the aggregate promotes effective functioning of the organization,” impacts performance excellence.

Performance in the Federal Government

And finally, we return to an earlier topic: political appointees in federal employment. According to a study from Princeton University’s Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, “career managers deliver better program results than their politically appointed counterparts.” (Federal Times, 2005, para. 1) The research found a difference in performance of 10% as measured by the Office of Management and Budget’s Program Assessment Rating Tool, which “assesses the effectiveness of a program’s design, goals, management, and results.” (para. 7) While the government’s response to Katrina is perhaps an extreme example, the fact that Michael Brown – former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and a political appointee – was replaced by Thad Allen – a Coast Guard officer who had reached his position as the third senior officer of the Coast Guard based on his own merit rather than through a political appointment process – in his role as the principle federal official for the government’s response to Katrina.

In a similar vein to Gracey’s (2001) comments about political appointees, Breul, a former senior advisor to the deputy director of management for the Office of Management and Budget, states that “Without a political appointee, the agency would be adrift and have a lack of connection to the President.” Without a political appointee, an agency isn’t “represented” or “at the table.” (Federal Times, 2005) Not being at the table impacts budget and resources, but it doesn’t seem to impact performance, at least with regard to the Coast Guard’s response to Katrina.

Data Collection and Analysis

All units in the Coast Guard are now required to implement leadership development and conduct periodic leadership development assessments. As a component of the Coast Guard’s new Unit Leadership Development Program, the Leadership Development Center created as assessment survey tool. This 36-question instrument (U. S. Coast Guard, 2004c) provides data points for 19 of the Coast Guard’s 28 leadership competencies. (U.S. Coast Guard, 2004a) The 28 leadership competencies are segmented into four groups: Leading Self, Leading Others, Leading Performance & Change, and Leading the Coast Guard. The assessment tool covers all the competencies in the first three segments, only. The Deputy Commander of the Maintenance & Logistics Command tasked the Training & Education Manager with oversight and implementation of the early stages of the staff’s leadership development program and the assessment portion. The Training & Education Manager contracted with the an organizational performance consultant from the next higher echelon to provide guidance, counsel, coaching, and assistance. The Deputy Commander stated in an early alignment meeting that he did not want to survey all 450 employees using this instrument; the consultant suggested using a focus group process, and the Deputy agreed.

Focus Group Process for Data Collection

The Training & Education manager solicited for volunteers to serve on the focus group; the solicitation went to all personnel at the command. Twenty-four people indicated they wanted to participate and were available during the scheduled time for the focus group sessions. The participants were divided into two groups based on their stated availabilities; twelve participants attended a morning session, and twelve attended an evening session. The participants included enlisted military members (from third class petty officer to senior chief petty officers), chief warrant officers, commissioned military officers (lieutenant junior grade to commander), and civilian employees (from GS-5 to GS-14). While the groups were balanced in number, the afternoon session had several senior officers, and the morning session did not. In addition, in the morning session nearly 2/3 of the participants were people of color while the afternoon session had none. In addition, the afternoon session had several supervisor/subordinate pairs.

Both focus group sessions followed the same facilitated process. The sessions started with a brief introduction by Training & Education Manager followed by an introduction from the organizational performance consultant who served as the facilitator for the process. The introductions included an overview of the Coast Guard’s Unit Leadership Development Program as well as an assurance by the Training & Education Manager and the facilitator of non-attribution of all comments and input provided by the participants. Then, participants introduced themselves and provided an example of positive leadership they had experienced during their Coast Guard experience.

Following the introduction, the facilitator went through the ULDP-36 assessment questions; each participant indicated their agreement, disagreement, or neutrality to each question using a colored card voting system.

Following this, each participant selected the five questions which they believed was the strongest at the MLCA staff. They also selected those questions offering the greatest opportunity for improvement. The participants indicated their selection using secret ballots.

The results from this multi-voting provided a set of questions around which there appeared to be significant energy – in terms of votes either placing in the top, bottom, or both – with the participants. With this pared list, participants were asked to silently brainstorm comments – things the unit is doing well, things the staff is doing poorly, concrete suggestions of things which could be done, and general suggestions & comments – for each item. Participants provided these anonymously on sticky notes.

The facilitator then guided an open discussion amongst the participants, seeking clarification of some notes and additional input from the group.

The session concluded with comments by the facilitator and the Training & Education Manager, reiterating the non-attribution standard as well as the establishment of the participants of the focus group as being the initial members of a leadership development advisory group for the unit. Each focus group ran 2 hours.

Similarity of Data from Both Groups

Following both focus groups, the quantitative and qualitative data was analyzed to determine if there were significant differences between the two groups in terms of responses. Both groups’ responses were similar. Of 432 votes cast (each participant casting one “vote” for each of the 36 questions), the morning participants agreed (by showing a green card) 63% of the time while the afternoon participants agreed 66% of the time. The qualitative data showed similar consistency in terms of anecdotal comments and participant reflections.

Analysis of Quantitative Data

In initially analyzing the quantitative data, we combined the data for the morning and afternoon groups and looked primarily at the agreed (or green) compared with the neutral and disagreed (red and yellow cards) combined together. Analyzing the percentage of participants who agreed or who disagreed (or were neutral), nine questions had at least 83% agreement and five questions had at least 63% disagreement. Then the segmentation of the “top” and “bottom” questions provided an opportunity for the participants to indicate their defined areas of strength or opportunities for improvement within the unit. Four questions had at least 8 participants who placed these questions in the top segment. Five questions were similarly placed in the bottom segment. Of these all the questions, four questions were in both the “agreement” and “top” lists, and four questions were in both the “disagreement” and “bottom” lists. These eight questions present the issues which are the greatest strength for the unit and present the greatest opportunity for improvement for the unit. Appendix A shows the 36 assessment questions; Appendix B shows the top strongest questions and the questions offering the greatest opportunity for improvement.

Each question on the 36-question assessment instrument is associated with one or more leadership competencies; each question is weighted in providing a numerical value on the assessment. Since the computerized assessment tool was not used, numerical values (reported out by the computerized analysis tool as the average, or arithmetic mean) were not generated. However, since each competency is created from inputs from one or more questions and percentages of the total value are known, it is possible to see which competencies are represented by the questions. In addition, it is possible to determine which competencies are most fully represented. Using the question/competency grid supplied by the Leadership Development Center, the top and bottom questions cover two-thirds of the makeup of two competencies and the full makeup of two other competencies. In addition, the top and bottom questions provide inputs to seven other competencies; those inputs range from a quarter to a half of the competency numerical value. Appendix C shows the linkages between the strongest and weakest assessment questions and the associate leadership competencies; Appendix D provides the Coast Guard’s definitions for these competencies. (U. S. Coast Guard, 2004b)

The strongest leadership competencies represented in the assessment analysis results are “self awareness & learning” and “technical proficiency.” Both of these competencies are in the “leading self” category of the segmented competencies. The greatest opportunities for improvement for individual competencies as represented in the assessment analysis results are “conflict management” and “vision development & implementation;” both of these competencies are in the third competency segment, “leading performance and change.”

Analysis of Qualitative Data

Nine pages of anecdotal comments and qualitative data – more than 300 separate comments – were collected during the focus groups. These comments were merged into a single document and scrubbed to ensure non-attribution when the comments were released. Two general themes became apparent when examining the qualitative data. The first theme was a stated desire to have answers and to be kept informed during periods of rapid change. The entire Coast Guard is facing an initiative to contract out “commercial activities” wherever possible. (Office of Management & Budget, 2003) This contracting initiative is especially problematic to the employees of the Maintenance & Logistics Command as much of the work done by the staff can be considered a commercial activity. Another initiative facing the Coast Guard is the “Deepwater” initiative, a long-term acquisition project to recapitalize the entire cutter and aircraft fleets. One key element of this initiative is the long-term support and maintenance of these platforms, a task the Maintenance & Logistics community currently handles. Both initiatives are wrapped in secrecy, rumor, and scuttlebutt, none of which provides answers as employees look to the future. The second apparent theme revolves around conflict management and conflict resolution within the workplace.


The data from the focus groups provided a wealth of information, much of it actionable. Likely, a variety of interventions could be developed, focusing on any one of the 36 questions or the associated 19 competencies. Two general approaches are familiar to the Coast Guard personnel in terms of interventions following a business analysis: to focus on the “opportunities for improvement” in order to close the gap between current performance and desired performance or to focus on the “strengths” as Buckingham & Coffman suggest. (1999) . They note that if a person or an organization has a particular strength, working to make that strength even more powerful is easier than focusing on a weakness, will provide a greater pay-off, and will address other issues in a trickle-down or system manner.

Focus of Interventions for the Staff at Maintenance & Logistics Command Atlantic

In order to reduce the number of “balls in the air” and to work within the preferred Coast Guard paradigm, the focus of the interventions focus on the competencies of “conflict management” and “vision development & implementation.” In addition, the recommended interventions create a system for continuous leadership development and program improvement. The performance consultant made 14 recommendations to the Deputy Commander; he chose to move forward with four recommendations and to continue two current practices which he already does. While the other eight recommendations were not dismissed outright, their implementation was delayed. The interventions accepted included chartering three teams: a “guidance team” composed of several senior staff members, an “implementation team” chaired by the Training & Education Manager and assisted by an organizational performance consultant; and the focus group participants as an “advisory team” to ensure all actions and interventions make sense to the personnel at the deckplate level. In addition, the Deputy committed to talk at the next meeting with all 450 staff employees – an “all hands” session – about the leadership development program, the focus group process, the results of the analysis of the qualitative and quantitative data from the focus groups, and the recommended interventions. The Deputy committed to continue challenging the Chiefs’ Mess to be proactive with regard to leadership development, and he committed to continue with informal group conversations with various segments of the staff. The focus of the first initiatives is to create a sustainable system for the implementation of further targeted interventions.

Immediate Interventions

Within framework of the recommended interventions, the Deputy proposed moving forward with the charters within four weeks (early to middle of December). He provided the all hands brief on 15 November. And, finally, he suggested that a vision statement, to include a desired outcome, be developed for the leadership development initiative. He proposed a three-point statement as a starting point: That within twelve months, the majority of staff members at the unit feel they can speak up & be heard, see how their work contributes to the unit’s work, and know the unit creates actual value for the Coast Guard.


The plan for evaluation is two fold: to conduct an evaluation in six months, focusing on the competencies of “conflict management” and “vision development & implementation” using the same focus group participants and the same basic focus group process. This will be followed six months later by conducting a new assessment with a new set of focus group participants, again following the same process. The second part of the evaluation process is to analyze certain unit performance data to determine the overall performance levels and trends of the staff and the staff’s work.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *References
Arnold, C. (September 9, 2005). Coast Guard Praised for Katrina Response. Washington: National Public Radio, Morning Edition. Retrieved November 18, 2005, from NPR.

Banko, S. (November 4, 2005). Coast Guard Shows Dedication to Changing Mission. Washington, DC: Federal Times. Retrieved November 18, 2005, from Federal Times

Barr, S. (September 6, 2005). Coast Guard’s Response to Katrina a Silver Lining in the Storm. Washington, DC: The Washington Post. Retrieved November 18, 2005 from The Washington Post

Blazey, M. (1997). Achieving Performance Excellence. Quality Progress, 30(6), 61-64.

Bonomo, J. & Pasternak, J. (2005). Unlocking Profitability in the Complex Company. The Journal of Business Strategy, 26(3), 10-11.

Buckingham, M. & Coffman, C. (1999). First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently. New York: Simon & Schuster

Department of Defense. (2005). Armed Forces Strength Figures for September 30, 2005. Retrieved November 18, 2005, from

Department of Homeland Security (n.d.). Emergencies & Disasters – Hurricane Katrina: What the Government is Doing. Retrieved November 18, 2005, from

Federal Times. (October 10, 2005). Careerists Make Best Managers: Study Shows They Get Better Results than Political Appointees. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved November 18, 2005, from Federal Times

Gracey, J. S. (2004). The Reminiscences of Admiral James S. Gracy, U.S. Coast Guard (Retired). Annapolis, MD: U.S. Naval Institute.

Hay Group (n.d.). Leadership: Impact on Performance. Retrieved October 26, 2005, from here

Knight Ridder Newspapers. (September 11, 2005). Government’s Failures Doomed Many. Seattle: The Seattle Times. Retrieved November 18, 2005, from here

Madsen, S. R. & Gygi, J. (2005). A Conversation with John. H. Zenger: Leadership and Change. Organizational Development Journal, 23(3), 89-98.

Office of Management & Budget. (2003). Performance of Commercial Activities, Circular No. A-76 (Revised). Retrieved November 19, 2005, from here

Phillips, D. T. (with Loy, J. M.). (2003). Character in Action: The U.S. Coast Guard on leadership. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press.

Rashid, M. D., Sambasivan, M., & Johari, J. (2003). The Influence of Corporate Culture and Organisational Commitment on Performance. The Journal of Management Development, 22, 708-728.

Reid, J. & Hubbel, V. (April/May, 2005). Creating a Performance Culture. Ivey Business Journal, 1-7.

Schermerhorn Jr., J. R., & McCarthy, A. (2004). Enhancing Performance Capacity in the Workplace: A Reflection on the Significance of the Individual. Irish Journal of Management, 25(2), 45-60.

Scott, W. (2003). Performance Improvement Interventions: Their Similarities and Differences. The Journal for Quality and Participation, 26(1), 26-30

Tischler, L. (November, 2004). IBM’s Management Makeover. Fast Company, 88. Retrieved November 18, 2005, from here

U. S. Coast Guard. (n.d.). Leadership Development Center. Retrieved November 18, 2005, from here

U. S. Coast Guard. (2004a). Assessment Questions and Competencies Matrix. Unpublished paper, Leadership Development Center, Coast Guard Academy, New London, CT.

U.S. Coast Guard. (2004b). Leadership competencies. Retrieved October 12, 2005, from here

U.S. Coast Guard. (2004c). ULDP 36: A competency-based assessment instrument for leadership development. New London: Coast Guard Leadership Development Center.

U. S. Coast Guard. (2005). Personnel Statistics. Retrieved November 18, 2005, from here

Wongrassamee, S. Gardiner, P. D., & Simmons, J. E. L. (2003). Performance Measurement Tools: The Balanced Scorecard and the EFQM Excellence Model. Measuring Business Excellence, 7(1), 14-29.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *Appendix A
Assessment Instrument: The ULDP-36

1. Leaders at my unit evaluate the impact of their decisions on people and the mission.
2. I am given opportunities to improve my skills in my unit/command.
3. I have a safe workplace.
4. I know who my important customers are. (Depending on your job customers may be the general public, other mariners, other Government Agencies, or other members of the Coast Guard.)
5. I know what my customers need and want.
6. I receive adequate mission-relevant info to do my job.
7. I receive useful professional/career guidance from members of my unit.
8. People at my unit are comfortable bringing up controversial issues.
9. Members at my unit cooperate with supervisors to ensure successful mission accomplishment.
10. Members at my unit identify and analyze problems to make effective decisions.
11. My Command cares about me.
12. My supervisor/team leader creates a work environment that helps me do my job.
13. My supervisor/team leader recognizes and rewards good performance.
14. My unit follows a work schedule/plan to accomplish a task or mission.
15. My supervisor follows up to ensure my work group is meeting its goals.
16. My work environment encourages creative thinking and innovation.
17. New members receive adequate orientation to the unit.
18. My supervisor asks for my opinions and input.
19. Supervisors/team leaders support member efforts to continue education after work.
20. The leadership at my unit manages and supports better ways to do work.
21. The members at my unit are encouraged to explore alternative solutions to problems.
22. The members at my unit are encouraged to maintain mental and physical well-being.
23. The members at my unit take pride in the unit.
24. The members of my unit align their personal behaviors with the CG Core Values (Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty)
25. I am held accountable for my actions.
26. The people I work with cooperate and work as a team to accomplish the mission.
27. When making decisions, leaders at my unit consider and assess risks.
28. Supervisors let members know how their work contributes to the unit’s mission and goals.
29. The members of my unit recognize and use the chain of command appropriately.
30. Members of my unit provide accurate and timely information up the chain of command so our leaders can make good decisions.
31. I seek feedback from others and look for opportunities to learn and develop.
32. The people I work with demonstrate technical expertise in their areas of responsibility.
33. My supervisor motivates me to perform by directing, delegating, coaching, and mentoring as the situation requires.
34. The people I work for create an environment that supports diversity, fairness, dignity and compassion
35. Members of my unit minimize conflict by building strong work relationships with each other.
36. My unit has an inspiring, long-term vision that is clearly communicated, widely shared, and understood.

(United States Coast Guard, 2004c)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *Appendix B
Strongest Questions and Questions Offering the Greatest Opportunity for Improvement

Strongest questions

  • I am given opportunities to improve my skills in my unit.
  • I have a safe workplace.
  • Supervisor/team leaders support members efforts to continue education after work.
  • The people I work with demonstrate technical expertise in their areas of responsibility.

Weakest questions/greatest opportunities for improvement

  • People at my unit are comfortable bringing up controversial issues.
  • Supervisors let members know how their work contributes to the unit’s mission and goals.
  • Members of the my unit minimize conflict by building strong work relationships with each other.
  • My unit has an inspiring, long-term vision that is clearly communicated, widely shared, and understand.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *Appendix C
Linkages between Identified Questions and Associated Leadership Competencies

Click here for the appendix material.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *Appendix D
Competency Definitions for Areas Identified as Strongest and Greatest for Improvement

The competencies most associated with the strongest areas identified by the focus group participants both fall under the Leading Self category.


Coast Guard leaders are self-objective. They continually work to assess self and personal behavior, seek and are open to feedback to confirm strengths and identify areas for improvement, and are sensitive to the impact of their behavior on others. Successful leaders use various evaluation tools and indicators to assist in this process of understanding themselves. Coast Guard leaders understand that leadership and professional development is a life-long journey and always work to improve knowledge, skills and expertise. To that end, they seek feedback from others and opportunities for self-learning and development, always learning from their experiences. Leaders guide and challenge subordinates and peers, encouraging individuals to ask questions and be involved. Leaders are open to and seek new information, and adapt their behavior and work methods in response to changing conditions.


Coast Guard leaders’ technical knowledge, skills and expertise allow them to effectively organize and prioritize tasks and use resources efficiently. Always aware of how their actions contribute to overall organizational success, leaders demonstrate technical and functional proficiency. They maintain credibility with others on technical matters and keep current on technological advances in professional areas. Successful leaders work to initiate actions and competently maintain systems in their area of responsibility.

The assessment questions identified by the focus group as being the greatest opportunity for improvement (or weakness) are associated with two competencies in the category of Leading Performance and Change


Coast Guard leaders facilitate open communication of controversial issues while maintaining relationships and teamwork. They effectively use collaboration as a style of managing contention; confront conflict positively and constructively to minimize impact to self, others and the organization; and reduce conflict and build relationships and teams by specifying clear goals, roles and processes.


Leaders are able to envision a preferred future for their units and functions, setting this picture in the context of the Coast Guard’s overall vision, missions, strategy and driving forces. Concerned with long-term success, leaders establish and communicate organizational objectives and monitor progress toward objectives; initiate action; and provide structure and systems to achieve goals. Leaders create a shared vision of the organization; promote wide ownership; manage and champion organizational change; and engineer changes in processes and structure to improve organizational goal accomplishment.

(U.S. Coast Guard, 2004b)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *Appendix E
Recommended Interventions as Presented to the
Deputy Commander, Coast Guard Maintenance & Logistics Command Atlantic

Specific recommendations to move forward:

  • Name a ULDP Oversight Team (Deputy, one O-6, one senior civilian, CSC)
  • Charter the ULDP Implementation Team (Dr. Nash, OPC, one O-5, one E-7/8/9, one GS-13/14)
  • Charter the ULDP Advisory Team (focus group members)
  • Deputy provide brief at next all-hands (high-level overview of process, results, interventions, future plan; can use this brief sheet as notes)
  • Distribute weekly read-ahead to all users; periodically include information on hot topics & leadership issues. Make this the place/way written information is passed.
  • Challenge the Chief’s Mess to meet regularly & be proactive with regard to leadership and other issues in the building.
  • Sponsor monthly “leadership lunch & learn sessions” ala LANT/D5, FINCEN, and others (this could be jointly sponsored by the Deputy and the ULDP Oversight & Implementation teams).
  • Dust off and use MLCA mission and vision statements.
  • Establish working groups to work on the Deepwater and A-76 issues, developing and implementing a plan for getting information to all staff personnel; can use the weekly read-ahead as mode of communications.
  • Continue with current initiatives in on-site courses and HR/soft-skills training (Dr. Nash to link all to specific leadership competencies)
  • Continue to encourage supervisors to support & encourage their staffs to learn and grow through formal & informal programs.
  • If not already doing so, institute “Deputy Talk Time” with various segments of the staff, perhaps one a month covering all segments in a year.
  • Other initiatives as proposed by ULDP Oversight, Implementation, and Advisory teams.
  • Follow-up focus groups in May 2006; have focus groups use the same process to provide reliability.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *Appendix F
Evaluation Plan

Evaluation Plan
1. Conduct follow-up focus groups in April 2006. Follow same process; focus on previously identified areas for improvement.
2. Conduct new focus groups in October 2006. Follow same focus group process. Begin to track quantitative data from the assessment survey.
3. Track unit performance (external outcomes and internal critical success factors) using available metrics. Possible metrics include the following:

  • Number of staff using tuition assistance (pursuing educational opportunities)
  • Number of course credits taken by staff members
  • Number of discipline actions within the unit
  • Number of formal and informal complaints filed by staff members through the civil rights process
  • Number of “lost cutter days” as a measure of naval engineering effectiveness
  • Number of cutter equipment casualties
  • Cost of dockside maintenance & repair over-runs
  • Percentage of growth for drydock maintenance & repair periods
  • Number of days processing medical payments

4. Look for correlation in the quantitative data between leadership development, outcome measures of effectiveness, and critical success factor measures.