Sky Soldier Toughness Initiative: Targeted Coach Education for Leaders
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Army Resilience Directorate’s intent is to shift toward a coach education model because of the results of the Master Resilience Trainer Course Evaluation and the Embedded Performance Expert Evaluation. The Sky Soldier Toughness Initiative (SSTI) provided an opportunity to test this shift. Performance Experts (PEs) have conducted a series of coach education workshops to empower squad leaders to improve their coaching by focusing on the application of psychological skills in everyday contexts with their Soldiers. The intent of the coach education model is to build capacity with force multiplication since PEs are a finite resource for the unit.

The SSTI course addresses three key areas:

• Leader Development to learn tangible skills to reduce stress and increase communication in specific roles.

• Performance Enhancement to increase physical performance and increase effectiveness of Soldier coaching and mentoring.

• Personal and Professional Development to acquire skill sets in communication, perseverance and coaching skills that can translate to life outside of the Army.

The Terminal Learning Objective (TLO) of the course is to establish the knowledge and skills to increase mental toughness and performance in Soldiers, with Enabling Learning Objectives (ELOs) for Coaching, Leader Development, Motivation and Resilience, and Communication.

• As part of the Coaching section, squad leaders complete a self-assessment using the High Performance Coaching Model and practice providing effective feedback to Soldiers as part of coaching for a specific skill or task.

• In the Leader Development section, squad leaders complete a self-assessment based on the competencies for Leads Others and Leads by Example, as outlined in the ADP 6-22, and identify areas of strength and for growth. Through examples of effective and exemplary leadership from the past and present, squad leaders discuss and identify characteristics of leadership through action and behaviors.

• In the Motivation and Resilience section, squad leaders analyze seven ways to motivate individuals and groups through competency, autonomy, and relatedness and identify unique perspectives and experiences that contribute to individual motivation as part of the team. When discussing resilience, squad leaders relay difficult situations from the past, share coping strategies and apply strategies to current situations. To increase knowledge of resilience, squad leaders complete self-assessments using the Grit Scale to identify strengths and areas for growth. Finally, in this section, squad leaders discuss growth and fixed mindsets and identify strategies and specific language for coaching for a growth mindset.

• For the Communication section, squad leaders complete a self-assessment based on the Communicates competency, as outlined in the ADP 6-22, and identify areas of strength and for growth. Squad leaders discuss strategies for communication skills and practice providing feedback using effective communication in role-play scenarios.

For all four ELOs, squad leaders identify the connections among coaching, leadership, motivation, resilience and communications toward increasing mental toughness and performance. As a capstone, squad leaders address obstacles to achieving goals through the Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan (WOOP) Model and transfer one goal from each of the four ELOs to a Personal Action Plan. The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research will conduct an evaluation of this to see the impacts of coach education with three conditions: coach education and PE embedment, coach education only or no intervention. Results will be provided upon completion of the evaluation.