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Leadership Year: Mentoring – The key to unlocking your potential

January 12, 2018

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke announced the DHS Leadership Year on Oct. 1, a yearlong effort (FY18) to promote a culture of leadership excellence and highlight the importance of leadership at all levels. As part of the initiative, the Office of Leadership (CG-12C) will highlight leadership opportunities available, give the fleet tools and resources to support leaders/supervisors in effectively managing performance, and continue the leadership dialogue. January is National Mentoring Month and CG-12C would like to highlight the mentoring success story of storekeeper, Chief Petty Officer Brynn Simonetti.

Written by Chief Petty Officer Brynn Simonetti

“Life is measured by the amount of life you give away” are words by Andy Stanley and words I live by. It’s true that no feeling can match the feeling of helping another. It’s also true that each of us is busy, both professionally and personally; sometimes too busy to reflect on our own needs and aspirations. Here at the Coast Guard we are typically doing more with less. Sometimes we need someone to recognize this and care enough to help. For me, that help came in the form of mentorship.

In my 13 years in the Coast Guard, I have experienced the benefits of mentoring, both formally and informally. I believe it is the

Petty Officer Brynn Simonetti (left) poses for a photo with her mentor, Chief Warrant Officer Jennifer Bell. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Petty Officer Brynn Simonetti (left) poses for a photo with her mentor, Chief Warrant Officer Jennifer Bell. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

foundation of my career success. My formal mentor came when I transferred to Coast Guard Headquarters. While there was no formal mentoring program at Headquarters, I had heard of a motivated warrant officer, Chief Warrant Officer Jennifer Bell. I was eager to reach out and see if she had the time to mentor me. Her passion and excitement for mentoring was unmistakable. I was already motivated! In our first meeting, she really got to know me and was genuinely interested in what I wanted out of our time together. We set goals with time periods to achieve them. My experience with my formal mentor was purposeful and pushed me to the next level.

Through my mentoring experiences, I recognized there was a need for Coast Guard members to better connect and collaborate with one another. This is especially important in remote units where resources are limited and finding someone with specific experiences when and where you need them can be a challenge. I have witnessed so many members struggle with professional and personal challenges in their careers which could have been eased by connecting with someone who was willing to mentor them. For some time, I have envisioned a program that fostered connections for all members to include officers, enlisted, Reservists, civil service members, and Auxiliarists. With my mentor by my side, we set out to make this a reality. This is when The Mentoring Project was born.

Former Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard, Vince Patton, talks during a The Mentoring Project event at Coast Guard Headquarters. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Emaia Rise.

Former Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard, Vince Patton, talks during a The Mentoring Project event at Coast Guard Headquarters. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Emaia Rise.

The Mentoring Project at Base National Capitol Region, kicked off in Oct. 2017. We follow a structured plan for the mentoring relationships that is two-way relationship where participants establish long and short term strategic goals. So far, in the inaugural year of the National Capitol Region Mentoring Project, we have matched 74 members in a structured mentoring relationship for a five-month period.

I truly believe that mentoring is the key that unlocks our personal and professional potential. Mentors facilitate, educate, and provide the support we need to help us formulate, execute and then review our goals. Without my mentor, my vision of The Mentoring Project would not be a reality. By supporting mentorship and creating mentoring opportunities, leaders truly show our members that we care. We create a community that is connected and it changes the culture of individuality to a culture of community and connection.

Interested in learning more about starting a mentoring program at your unit or office? Check out the Office of Leaderships (CG-12C) website for more information about the Coast Guard Mentoring Program Toolkit.

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