“To be a leader is to be selfless and have a strong sense of integrity. It’s to be able to swallow bias and do what is right and beneficial to the organization. It’s to be a mentor to those who you lead.”
This definition of leadership, spoken by cadet Lt. Col. Chris Reilly-Reed, proves why he was chosen by the school’s leaders to serve in the important role of battalion commander of the 130th Corps of Cadets at St. John’s Military School.
The senior cadet who fulfills the duties of the battalion commander is expected to be a mentor for the Corps, to help define and execute initiatives to help the school meet its goals and to set the standard for excellence in what all cadets hope to achieve during their time at St. John’s. As a young man who understands the importance of personal accountability and the personal desire to achieve greatness, Battalion Commander Reilly has been chosen to lead the 130th Corps of Cadets at St. John’s for good reason.
Learning Lessons of Leadership
Reilly, now a senior at St. John’s Military School, arrived on campus six years ago. Reflecting on the decision he made with his family to enroll at St. John’s, Battalion Commander Reilly is confident that it was the right decision then, as it is now.
“It’s better for me to be here, to learn leadership, and also drop the distractions of public school,” said Reilly. “Plus, the family aspect of the school is also invincible.”
The Battalion Commander Selection Process
With an understanding that the role of the battalion commander is central to the success of the Corps of Cadets, the selection of the right young man to serve in the role is a process that is executed with great care and consideration.
“The importance of the battalion commander is what all young cadets strive to be,” said Deputy Commandant Gunnery Sgt. Mark Giles. “It’s important for the BC to lead in a positive manner.”
As part of the selection process, Reilly was interviewed by a panel that included many of the school’s current leaders.
“I was interviewed in a room with the previous BC (battalion commander), CSM (cadet command sergeant major), commandant, deputy commandant, president, chaplain, academic dean and all the SMAs (senior military advisors),” said Reilly.
For members of the review committee, it was Reilly’s personal style of leadership that set him apart and proved he was the ideal candidate for the position.
“Chris is more of a persuasive leader and influences others to do the right thing,” said Giles, who has known the battalion commander since he arrived at St. John’s six years prior. “Chris has grown a lot and has unlimited knowledge of the school and knows how to lead.”
The Opportunity to Lead
Reilly describes his reaction at being selected to lead the 130th Corps of Cadets as “dumbfounded,” recounting that the moment he learned he was chosen was “surreal.” Being battalion commander of St. John’s is an honor and an opportunity that he is taking with sage sincerity and a commitment to serving the highest quality standards.
“This opportunity to me means that I have the chance to help other kids progress in life and better themselves,” he said. “This will also be an opportunity to better myself.”
Leadership Begets Leadership
As he moves forward in his new role, Reilly says he draws on the lessons he’s learned from the faculty and staff at St. John’s who have impacted him the most during his six years as a cadet; in particular, Academic Dean Ginger Wooten, Vice President Maj. George Stelljes, Deputy Commandant Gunnery Sgt. Mark Giles, and Military Advisor Sgt. Casey McCoy. He also plans to rely on the leadership and direction of President Col. Clark and Commandant Sgt. Maj. Ray Nunweiler.
“I feel grateful that I have them pushing and mentoring me, and I know they will be pivotal in helping me,” said Reilly.
Leading the 130th Corps of Cadets
Throughout the 2017 academic year, Reilly plans to focus on initiatives that will ensure the 130th Corps of Cadets serves with the highest standards following processes that maximize efficiency. He plans to accomplish this using his own effective style of leadership that he defines as “straightforward.”
Deputy Commandant Giles is confident that Reilly will be successful in his efforts to unite the Corps under a common goal and motivate them to hold themselves to the highest standards.
Said the deputy commandant, “His vast amount of knowledge and knowing how to get the Corps to gel will allow him to succeed in his role as battalion commander.”