Adm. Paul Zukunft’s Leadership Address 2018 at Coast Guard Academy

Written by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nicole Foguth

The Coast GUard Academy's regimental commander 1st Class Cadet Kurt Camiske gives Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft a Coast Guard Academy hat as a gift for speaking at the Academy's annual Leadership Address, March 7, 2018. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nicole Foguth.

The Coast Guard Academy’s regimental commander 1st Class Cadet Kurt Camiske gives Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft a Coast Guard Academy hat signed by the Class of 2018 as a gift for speaking at the Academy’s annual Leadership Address, March 7, 2018. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nicole Foguth.

Adm. Paul Zukunft addressed the Corps of Cadets during the annual Commandant’s Leadership Address at the Coast Guard Academy, in New London, Connecticut, March 7, 2018.

Zukunft, who is slated for retirement this year, took cadets, staff and faculty on a journey through his career, highlighting key moments that impacted him as a leader over his 45 years in the Coast Guard. He discussed topics such as the importance of maintaining a high-level of public trust, noted significant advances within the Coast Guard to better serve the mission and leadership challenges that he experienced throughout his career.

“It is true whether you’re a cadet, whether you’re the commandant, or anywhere in-between, the standards you walk past, are the standards you accept,” said Zukunft, as he emphasized the importance of maintaining standards that uphold the Coast Guard’s core values of honor, respect and devotion to duty. “It is going to take moral courage to make sure that everyone in this service upholds the standards, and in so doing, maintains public trust.”

As Zukunft clicked through slides, which depicted important leadership skills and traits that Coast Guard officers should emulate, he described the moment where he chose to fully embrace the role of an officer within the Coast Guard and how that changed his entire future. He explained how living by the core values, he was able to progress through his career and become the commandant of the Coast Guard.

U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Paul Zukunft, commandant of the Coast Guard, talks to the Coast Guard Academy's Corps of Cadets about topics ranging from diversity, to leadership challenges within the military, March 7, 2017. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nicole Foguth.

U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Paul Zukunft, commandant of the Coast Guard, talks to the Coast Guard Academy’s Corps of Cadets about topics ranging from diversity, to leadership challenges within the military, March 7, 2017. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nicole Foguth.

“Who lives here reveres honor, honors duty,” said Zukunft. “You see it every day when you come through the entrance of Chase Hall. That is who we are.”

Zukunft spent much of his career underway and described for the cadets some of the challenging decisions he had to make along the way. He encouraged the cadets to seek out a mentor to help guide them through the process, as that was a critical component to his own success.

“Leadership is not solitary. Leadership is a team sport,” continued Zukunft. “I cannot underscore the significance enough of having a mentor, someone who has been through all this before.”

In closing, Zukunft participated in a question and answer session with cadets, who asked him questions ranging from dealing with bad people in positions of authority and influences to his command philosophies to perfecting the art of listening.

“We’re a very complex service when you dissect the United States Coast Guard, but what we do have is a very clear direction of where we are and where we are going,” said Zukunft. “You are entering the world’s best Coast Guard.”

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