FORT KNOX, Ky. - The 1st Theater Sustainment Command main command post located at Fort Knox, Kentucky and its operational command post located on Camp Arifjan, Kuwait implemented a Leading Individuals from Experience Coaching Program for NCOs.
It’s a groundbreaking initiative aimed at enhancing NCO’s leadership capabilities and equipping Soldiers with the necessary skills and knowledge to lead in the Army of 2030 and beyond.
This innovative initiative not only addresses training requirements but also focuses on mentoring, coaching, teaching, counseling, and training of NCOs.
It is a long-term sustainable initiative to empower NCOs and equip them with the necessary skills to excel not only in their military career but also the tools to overcome everyday obstacles in their personal lives.
Under the guidance of the 1st TSC command sergeant major, the senior NCOs were tasked with creating a program that not only meets the training needs but also emphasizes the development and preparedness of NCOs. Recognizing the significance of mentoring and counseling, the team identified coaching as an area that required more attention.
To bridge this gap, the team introduced the LIFE Coach Program initiative. This initiative aligns with the 1st TSC commanding general’s vision and supports the efforts and priorities of the U.S. Army Central commanding general and command sergeant major.
Its goal is to build leaders of cohesive teams who are highly trained, disciplined, and mentally and physically fit - to fight and win our nation's wars. Another goal is to ensure that NCOs are equipped to handle the diverse challenges they may face in various missions.
The 1st TSC's commitment to the development and readiness of NCOs is reflected in their emphasis on the Army's future needs. By addressing coaching as a vital component of NCO development, the program seeks to enhance leadership skills, foster innovation, maintain focus, and strive for excellence.
The implementation of this program underscores the 1st TSC's dedication to staying ahead of the curve in preparing Soldiers for the evolving demands of the military landscape. By nurturing and cultivating the abilities of NCOs, the 1st TSC aims to create a resilient and proficient force that is well-equipped to face any mission and maintain situational diversity.
“It is nice to be a part of an organization that is invested in my professional and personal development,” said Cpl. James Gomez, ammunition specialist, 1st TSC, and a program participant.
The program, inspired by the Senior Leader Coaching Workshop at the NCO Leadership Center of Excellence, aims to bridge the gap between junior and senior leaders within the 1st TSC formation by incorporating counseling, teaching, coaching, and mentorship. The program promises to maximize the potential of NCOs and contribute to their overall development as future leaders in the United States Army.
“By implementing a program specifically focused on coaching, we’ll definitely be getting after the Sergeant Major of the Army’s focus areas,” said Master Sgt. Kevin Mauney, senior career counselor, 1st TSC. “This program will absolutely enhance our ability to strengthen the profession of arms, and deliver combat ready formations, which will ultimately improve our warfighting.”
According to Army Doctrine Publication (ADP) 6-22, leaders play a crucial role in developing others. Counseling, coaching, and mentoring are identified as the three principal areas of development. The 1st TSC LIFE Coaching Program is aligned with these principles, focusing primarily on coaching techniques to enhance skills, task completion, and specific behaviors.
Under this innovative program, 25 experienced and capable NCOs ranging from staff sergeant to sergeant first class have been assigned as coaches to 27 junior NCOs, from corporal to sergeant. The coaches will use their gained experience to guide and mentor their assigned NCOs, helping them understand their current level of performance and supporting them in reaching the next level of development.
"Everyone in the program has a supervisor. Soldiers might not be willing to share their personal or professional challenges with that supervisor, but in my experience, they will with their coach," said Staff Sgt. Ajani Stone, a LIFE coach. "It is evident that the 1st TSC LIFE Coaching Program is already making a significant impact in empowering our Soldiers."
The program's success lies in its ability to strengthen the transition between the pre-existing NCO professional military education career path and the challenges faced by junior and senior leaders.
“My opinion of the program’s intent is a positive one, with challenges that can be easily overcome. In preparing my questions and discussions with Sergeant Mills,
I found myself reviewing his SRB and formulating questions pertaining to his past achievements and future goals,” said Sgt. 1st Class Tharrington, a LIFE coach. “I believe that the program can be effective if both the coach and the coached Soldier are fully engaged and there is two-way honest and ongoing communication.”
By integrating counseling, coaching, and mentoring, the 1st TSC aims to maximize the knowledge and experience of senior NCOs to ensure outstanding leadership is provided throughout the command.
The LIFE program is a multiphase operation that enables coaches and their aligned NCO to get to know one another personally and professionally. During each phase, the team will conduct face-to-face discussions and complete an individual development plan geared toward establishing long-term and short-term goals. At a minimum, every 60 days, the two will reconvene to review the progress that has been made and to any discuss concerns.
“My coach and I definitely get along well. We’ve gotten to get to know each other better, and to discuss our personal and professional goals to make an individual development plan,” Sgt. Milicent Paguirigan, a LIFE Coach program participant, said. “At first I was unsure of the coach I would be aligned with, and how the program would help me, but now I can see the benefits”.
As the 1st TSC LIFE program reaches the first 60-day milestone since its implementation, the participating NCOs will complete an assessment survey to gage the program’s effectiveness. This feedback will provide valuable insights for further improvements and adjustments to the program necessary for its expansion and sustainability.
“We’re currently developing the most adaptive leaders of 2030,” said Sgt. 1st Class Peter Landry, executive assistant, 1st TSC. “How we go about doing that needs to be precise and deliberate because they will be the NCOs supporting the Army for it to achieve its domestic and foreign objectives.”
The goal of the 1st TSC LIFE Coaching Program is to ensure that all Soldiers within the unit have access to exceptional leadership and development opportunities. By assigning experienced NCOs as coaches, the program seeks to unlock a Soldier’s full potential and achieve a higher level of performance. The 1st TSC is embracing a new era of leadership development, and the implementation of this coaching program promises to shape the future of NCOs within the 1st TSC.
With the implementation of this program, the 1st TSC solidifies its commitment to building a future-ready Army, where NCOs are not only skilled leaders but also compassionate mentors, coaches, and counselors. The impact of this initiative is expected to resonate throughout the Army, shaping the next generation of leaders who will lead Soldiers with unmatched expertise and dedication.
As the Army continues to adapt to a rapidly changing world, initiatives like this will hopefully serve as a benchmark for other commands. By prioritizing the holistic development of NCOs, the 1st TSC sets a precedent for excellence and ensures the Army remains at the forefront of military capabilities.