Army Coaching Program: Investment in Army leadership

By Tara DavisDecember 29, 2022

Army Coaching Program: Investment in Army Leadership
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

WASHINGTON — Transitioning into a leadership role can be difficult, as it may be a Soldier’s first-time overseeing others while trying to manage records and achieve the organization’s common goal. It can be especially difficult to know exactly what to do or say in new settings or when facing unique challenges. Having a mentor or, in this case, a coach can make the transition to a new role easier, as this adviser can offer support and guidance by pointing the Soldier in the right direction and by sharing ideas they may not have considered.

The Army Talent Management Task Force is aiming to improve leadership skills by providing coaches — not to be confused with mentors — to Soldiers and DA Civilians through the Army Coaching Program, or ACP. Lt. Col. Christine Baker explains, “Coaches are different from mentors because coaches are certified and credentialed professionals who provide individual insight to improve the leader’s knowledge, skills and behaviors to achieve their goals.”

The ACP aims to increase the human capital management practices of the Army, such as retaining talent by providing feedback on Soldiers’ careers and helping them achieve their goals. This program works in tandem with assessments and points in a leader’s career, such as the Commander Assessment Program, or CAP, providing a time to reflect with a professional coach in person or virtually over a personalized period. These one-on-one hour-long sessions allow the coach to provide you with the tools on how to build self-awareness and leadership skills, and then apply this knowledge to daily life and work experiences.

The coaches give program participants an opportunity to address blind spots while allowing them to develop their own approach to resolving their professional or even personal conflicts. This is one of the major differences between professional mentors and what the ACP offers. “Mentors will certainly provide answers on how they got there,” Baker says. “Coaches are there for leaders to find their own answers by providing an in-depth look into how the leader wants to accomplish their own goal.” These coaching partnerships are so important because it’s an investment in our future Army leaders and helps them to learn how to perceive their future and current circumstances."

The ACP is one of many programs that the Army now offers to help build the professional skills of our current and next generation of leaders. Since 2019, the ACP has been connecting Soldiers to coaches who have both military and nonmilitary experience to help Soldiers achieve their goals. The coaches are certified by the International Coaching Federation. The following experts are allowed to formally coach in the ACP:

  • Professional trained coach: an individual with a coaching certification who offers support through an ongoing partnership designed to help students in the program maximize their potential in their personal and professional lives.
  • Internal ACP coach: a certified coach who is employed within the Department of the Army and provides coaching services to other Army members and other federal government employees.
  • External coach: a certified coach who is either self-employed or partners with other professional coaches to form a coaching business that conducts business with the federal government.

“The best candidates for the Army Coaching Program are candidates ready to truly look at themselves and willing to be vulnerable in assessing where they currently stand,” Baker says.

The ACP is a non-attributional, Soldier-focused, confidential and career-long program that focuses on a Soldier’s self-development and professional goals as well as their performance potential.

Retaining talent is a major goal of Army leadership and is at the forefront of achieving the human resource goals of the Army of 2030. Baker says, “Technology is consistently changing, and yet our minds are adapting to how we can predict the future based on context from our experiences. Coaching helps provide a place where leaders can use a sounding board for challenging how we perceive our future and our current circumstances in order to address how we truly move forward to accomplish our goals and provide war-winning talents for the Army of 2030 and 2040.”

This program, as well as the CAP, are showing the overall change toward turning the workplace climate of the Army into a place that values its people, wants to build confidence to increase engagement, and to foster professional growth of its Soldiers. “Having someone to check in with and to work with us in addressing blind spots can be instrumental in leadership where sometimes leaders may not see them,” Baker says.

Talent attrition is a major expenditure of the Army. With new programs like the CAP and ACP, the Army hopes to increase retention and build opportunity for the current and next generations of Soldiers by improving their mindset and increasing their engagement, and by investing in talent.

The ACP is there to help leaders be the best they can be by focusing on self-development, professional goals, performance and potential. “Leaders in the Army are responsible for their organizations,” Baker says. “Mentors will certainly provide answers on how they got there. Coaches are there for leaders to find their own answers.”

To find out more about the program and learn how to register as a coach, or become one, visit the Army Coaching Program website.

Looking for my information about coaching? The Center for the Army Progression and Leadership website offers additional resources.