RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --
The No. 1 piece of advice I’ve received from Col. Dana Jacobson, my senior individual mobilization augmentee at Air Education and Training Command’s directorate of judge advocate, is to focus on building relationships.
Contributing to my unit, building relationships and continuously working to develop my legal skills have enabled me to receive tremendous career development opportunities while supporting the Total Force Initiative.
Attending Squadron Officer School in-residence, graduating from the Reserve Officer Developmental Education course, learning from my peers and gaining new experiences outside of my career field are all professional growth opportunities I’ve enjoyed by competing at the Reserve School Selection Board and attending Air Force Reserve Command’s professional officer development courses.
This July I served as an instructor and facilitator in the International Junior Officer Leadership Development Seminar at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
IJOLDS is the premier international leadership course for reserve junior officers. It supports the Air Force chief of staff’s initiative of building partnerships with members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and provides attendees with a unique opportunity to develop and expand professional networks, engage with senior reserve leaders, build relationships with other allied officers from other countries and spend time with fellow Airmen who span a diverse cross-section of career fields.
“If you want to be an effective military leader you will need to know about more than just your country or even your military,” said Air Force Reserve Maj. Gen. Mark Loeben, who is charged with facilitating programs and exercises across all of U.S. European Command.
One reserve senior leader who exemplifies building relationships and developing knowledge for a global perspective is Col. Mitch Neurock, mobilization assistant to the director of Administrative Law at Headquarters U.S. Air Force. Neurock is the JAG Corps Junior Officer Council’s 2014 Mentor of the Year and the former Air Reserve Component advisor to the Air Force Judge Advocate General.
This year he participated in IJOLDS as a senior leader, giving multiple presentations including one entitled, “Leading from Behind: Mastering the Lost Art.” Although his presentations were excellent, his most powerful contributions were the periods when he was not on the agenda but rather investing time and energy by engaging with company grade officers, learning their stories sharing advice and building relationships.
Neurock may have lectured on leading from behind but through his actions, he embodied leadership by example. Walking down the busy streets of Bastogne, Belgium, and sticking your head into one of the local middle-eastern restaurants there was Neurock, surrounded by three Americans, two Germans and two Danish younger officers, munching on schwarma while the colonel peppered them with questions about family backgrounds and deployment tempos, all while interweaving stories from his years serving in Turkey.
During group PT at the base soccer field, the colonel participated with dozens of international officers, straining muscles he hadn’t used for two decades.
At IJOLDS 2015, Neurock demonstrated that one of the key attributes of successful leaders is a strong commitment to building relationships.
The Total Force Initiative requires reserve component members to fill an important role in supporting the Air Force mission. Yet, it also demands that as reservists we have a deep understanding of the global world in which we operate and the significance that relationships, connectivity, and cultural awareness play in successfully serving as leaders.
IJOLDS provides company grade officers with the opportunity to enjoy relationship development with fellow CGOs from a wide array of countries and career fields, as well as senior leaders from across the Air Reserve Component, all while sharing personal backgrounds, diverse perspectives and delivering a powerful professional development experience.
Through his investment of time and his sincere demonstration of interest with junior officers and his peers at IJOLDS 2015, Neurock reinforced the value and importance of building relationships as a key quality of effective leadership.
(Glassman is an assistant staff judge advocate at the 56th Fighter Wing, Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, and vice chair of the Junior Officer Council for the U.S. Air Force JAG Corps Reserve.)