Sailor focuses on teamwork and constant improvement
Sailors have a lot they can learn from Mother Nature. Take for example a flock of geese flying across the sky in a "V" formation. As each goose flaps its wings it creates "uplift" for the birds that follow.
When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies to the point position. It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership. As with geese, Sailors are interdependent on each other's skills, capabilities and unique arrangements of gifts, talents or resources.
The geese get it; and so does Electronics Technician 1st Class Jodi Geibel, who has no problem flying point, and who at her core is the type of leader the Navy needs more of.
Geibel, who works at Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center, Great Lakes, Ill., used this analogy in her opening remarks at the First Class Petty Officer Leadership Symposium at Great Lakes. A symposium she organized after assessing the need.
"I truly believe that as a leader it is our duty to always improve our leadership skills and I wanted to provide an opportunity where we could do that," said Geibel. "Through my position with Sea Service Leadership Association (SSLS) I have been able to network with many leaders throughout all DoD branches. I wanted to share what I've learned and use my connections to get speakers here to take part. Since I am transferring soon, I made a decision to not lose sight of that goal, so I made a few calls and formed a planning committee. From the initial call, it took us only 47 days to execute the Leadership Symposium."
Twenty-Four First Class Petty Officers from all 12 commands in the Great Lakes area came together, took Geibel's idea, and ran with it.
"It was amazing to see my peer group work together and create something in just 47 days," said Geibel. "All the local command master chiefs endorsed our idea and had faith in our ability to execute; they supported us throughout the entire process."
Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, Geibel joined the Navy in July of 2000 to serve her country and better her life. After attending a year of college and realizing she lacked self-discipline, she needed a structured path and the Navy was happy to provide that direction.
Jodi goes above and beyond in everything she does," said her sister, Katie Geibel. "She doesn't do it for the recognition or to get anything in return. She takes what she has learned from others uses that to push and motivate those around her."
Geibel knows what it is like to be pushed also. The people who have pushed her to be her best self are those who aren't afraid to admit they aren't perfect and who have embraced adversity. Senior Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Prentice Ewing was that person for Geibel.
"I say was, because he joined the Army of Angels in November of 2013," said Geibel. "He passed away unexpectedly but left behind a great legacy. He embodied the servant leadership mentality and never said no to a Sailor in need. He stood by his Sailors in good times and through their darkest hours."
For Geibel, one of those darkest hours came in in 2009 when the father of her two youngest girls passed away.
"I was five months pregnant with my youngest daughter," said Geibel. "He collapsed at home on his birthday. I performed CPR on him until the ambulance arrived and the technicians took over."
Geibel has three girls, is recently married (but currently geographically separated) and is thankful to have her sister's help in managing her home and work life.
"Everyone comes across a hurdle in their life or career at some point, but Jodi takes that as a challenge to work harder," said Katie. "Even if one person is inspired by the message Jodi spreads, then it can continue down the line in a 'pay it forward' manner."
It doesn't just end at professional leadership but also personal mentorship. Like her mentor, Geibel always sets aside time to help those in need.
"You can define Geibel with three words, excellence, loyalty and leadership," said Information Systems Technician 1st Class Clarence Clay. "She is a great example of how Sailors should carry themselves and how to persevere through any and all adversity. Geibel is always puts herself second when it comes to those she's leading. She is not your average leader. Her foundation is framed in her faith in God, humanity and love; that's hard to find."
"A leader must be humble to gain the respect of their junior Sailors, peers and leadership," said Geibel. "They must never stop learning and being the example. They must also be willing to admit their mistakes, hold people accountable, but also reward whenever possible."
Geibel may as well be generating that description while looking in the mirror.
"ET1 is the prime example of what we, as leaders, do when we have setbacks," said Command Master Chief Leon Walker, Naval Service Training Command. "Her perseverance, dedication, determination and devotion to duty and life are unmatched. We always talk about being resilient and she embodies all of those qualities wrapped up in one! Her will to win is evident in everything she does. She is a visionary."
Geibel said she is humbled by the symposium turnout, by the feedback from her peers, and by the accolades from her leadership. Especially since she is only doing her job.
"Someone once said to me, 'No ego, No drama, this is not about you,'" said Geibel. "That has resonated in my mind for the last few years and, by learning to lead that way, has resulted in an astounding reward - simply, my Sailor's succeed! When we do it for others, we create a compassion that allows us to make a difference."
Although Geibel has had many wins in her career, and many high profile people talking her up in conversations around the Navy, she never forgets where it all started.
"My biggest accomplishment remains to be that day in July of 2000 when I put on my uniform for the first time," said Geibel. "Everything since then has just been blessings."