Office of Leadership (DCMS-DPR-5)

Commandant (DCMS-DPR-5)
U.S. Coast Guard
2703 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE
Stop 7907
Washington, D.C. 20593-7907

Coast Guard Leadership Development Framework

What is it?

The Leadership Development Framework (LDF) is a policy and training tool that communicates what the Coast Guard expects from its leaders as they progress through their career. The 28 Leadership Competencies that create this framework represent the qualities the Coast Guard says make up an effective leader. This framework is also the basis of our enlisted, officer and civilian leadership courses, enabling the workforce to know what to expect from those who provide their formal classroom leadership development training. This update to the LDF is an early step in implementing RW30 for our workforce.

Why we updated this policy

The last version of this policy was published in 2006.  Over the past 16 years, the Coast Guard’s understanding of and approach to leadership has evolved, and so have the needs of our workforce. The updated instruction was written through a lens of inclusive leadership, and prioritizes plain language so that it is an accessible and useful tool for all Coast Guard members. The policy was reduced from 91 pages to eight, and all competency definitions are 40 words or less.

The format of the framework and the Leadership Competencies now creates a clear path to develop mastery of every competency at a specific stage in one's career. The competencies are divided into five areas of focus to master at each paygrade. The foundational, “Leading Self” category is prioritized at the point where members enter the Service, and remains an area of focus for the entirety of a person’s Coast Guard career. On top of this foundation, four pillars categorize the remaining competencies into areas of focus at progressing levels of seniority. By the time a person reaches the most senior pillar, they will have been trained on all competencies that the Coast Guard prioritizes in its leaders. Each category has seven competencies or less, making it manageable to develop mastery at each stage.

How can I use the Leadership Development Framework?

Individual Coast Guard members can use the LDF to better understand their leadership development journey. They are able to more clearly see which leadership competencies they will engage with in their leadership development C-Schools, and what is on the horizon when they promote or advance. 

At the unit level, the LDF is a great tool to utilize to guide discussions or trainings about leadership. The conversations that result can inspire reflection on how one leads between formal classroom sessions, which is vital for developing oneself and others as leaders, and practicing what is learned in daily life.

As leaders, the LDF can be used to guide and mentor junior personnel as they move forward in their careers. This framework is a common language for those at different paygrades to talk about big topics such as how to become the best leader they can be in a more tangible and actionable way.

Check out this Facilitator Guide & Job Aid that will help you take the ideas laid out in the LDF and make them tangible. We recognize that sometimes it’s difficult to start conversations around leadership, so we asked CPOA to help us create a tool to make it easier to facilitate this dialogue.

The guide will help you frame discussions, create objectives and guidelines, plus it walks you through de-briefing questions to ask that summarize the learnings gleaned from the exercise. The job aid features 50 cards with open-ended questions that can be used to delve deeper into any of the 28 Leadership Competencies.