Choosing Your Battles: Leadership Lessons from Colonel Irene Glaeser

Colonel Irene Glaeser: From Immigrant Roots to Army Boots

On a recent episode of the Veteran Led podcast, host John Berry sat down with an extraordinary guest whose story is a masterclass in leadership and resilience. 

Colonel Irene Glaeser, a trailblazer who shattered barriers and expectations throughout her military career, shared her journey from a young lieutenant to a colonel and CEO, offering invaluable insights for veterans and civilians alike.

Born to Lithuanian immigrants, Irene grew up with a deep appreciation for the opportunities and freedoms that America provided. 

Drawn to the challenge and excitement of military life, she made the bold decision to join the Army in the early 1980s, a time when women were still a rarity in the ranks.

Choosing Battles and Earning Respect

As a young lieutenant, Irene quickly learned that success would require more than just physical toughness and technical skill. 

Faced with skepticism and even outright opposition from some of her male peers and superiors, she realized that true leadership meant choosing her battles wisely and earning respect through consistent excellence and unshakable professionalism.

Balancing Motherhood and Military Life

One of her early tests came when she arrived at her first duty station in Germany, newly married and pregnant. In an era when pregnancy was still seen as a “career killer” for female soldiers, Irene refused to let others’ expectations define her. 

She adapted to the challenges, finding ways to balance her duties as an officer with her growing family, and in doing so, earned the admiration of those around her.

Developing a Leadership Philosophy

Through her early experiences, Irene began to develop the leadership philosophy that would guide her throughout her career. 

She understood that respect was not given freely, but rather earned through hard work, integrity, and a willingness to put the needs of others before her own. 

These were the qualities that would serve her well as she rose through the ranks, breaking barriers and redefining what was possible for women in the military.

Rising Through the Ranks

As Irene progressed in her career, she continued to face challenges and obstacles, but she never let them define or deter her. Instead, she used each experience as an opportunity to learn, grow, and adapt. 

Her unwavering commitment to excellence and her ability to inspire and motivate those around her propelled her through the ranks, earning her a reputation as a skilled leader and a valuable asset to the Army.

Lessons in Leadership

Throughout her journey, Irene discovered that effective leadership was about more than just giving orders or achieving objectives. It was about building trust, promoting collaboration, and empowering others to reach their full potential. 

She learned to listen actively, to communicate clearly, and to lead by example, always putting the needs of her soldiers and her unit before her own.

Balancing Family and Service

One of the most significant challenges Irene faced was balancing her responsibilities as a soldier with her role as a mother. In a culture that often saw family obligations as a weakness or a liability, Irene refused to choose between her love for her children and her dedication to her country. 

Instead, she found ways to make it work, relying on the support of her husband and her fellow soldiers, and always striving to be fully present in both aspects of her life.

Choosing Your Battles

Perhaps one of the most valuable lessons Irene learned was the importance of choosing your battles wisely. 

As a woman in a male-dominated field, she encountered her fair share of bias, discrimination, and outright hostility. 

But rather than letting these experiences discourage her or drain her energy, she focused on what truly mattered: her mission, her soldiers, and her own personal growth. 

She learned to pick her fights carefully, to stand her ground when it mattered most, and to let go of the rest.

Leading with Authenticity

Through it all, Irene remained true to herself and her values. 

She understood that leadership was not about fitting into a predetermined mold or conforming to others’ expectations, but rather about bringing her unique perspective and strengths to the table. 

By embracing her authenticity and staying true to her convictions, she earned the respect and admiration of those around her, and inspired a new generation of leaders to follow in her footsteps.

From Colonel to CEO

After a distinguished military career spanning decades, Irene embarked on a new chapter as a civilian. 

But true to her nature, she didn’t settle for a quiet retirement. 

Instead, she channeled her leadership skills and her passion for service into a new venture, becoming the CEO of Spahr Solutions Group, LLC . 

In this role, she brought the same level of dedication, innovation, and excellence that had defined her military career, proving that the lessons she had learned in uniform were just as valuable in the business world.

Empowering Veterans

For Irene, the transition to civilian life also brought a new opportunity to give back to the veteran community. 

Drawing on her own experiences and the challenges she had faced, she became a vocal advocate for veteran entrepreneurship and support programs. 

She understood firsthand the unique skills and perspectives that veterans bring to the table, and she was determined to help them succeed in their post-military careers.

Sharing Wisdom and Resources

Through her work and advocacy, Irene has helped countless veterans navigate the often-daunting process of starting a business or finding a new career path. 

She has shared her wisdom and expertise generously, offering practical advice and connecting veterans with the resources and networks they need to thrive. 

Her message is simple but powerful: 

“You earned it. You’re entitled to it. It’s not a privilege. It’s a right. So go after that.”

A Legacy of Service

Today, Irene continues to inspire and empower others through her leadership, her advocacy, and her unwavering commitment to service. 

Her story is a testament to the resilience and strength of the human spirit, and a reminder that with courage, determination, and a willingness to choose your battles wisely, there is no obstacle that cannot be overcome.

Spahr Solutions Group, LLC

Spahr Solutions Group (SSG) provides top-tier IT solutions to federal and Department of Defense clients. 

With a team experienced in contracting, IT, leadership, investigations, and quality assurance, SSG prioritizes ethics, efficiency, and employee well-being. 

Thier agile processes and competitive compensation attract and retain top talent, creating a culture where every employee is considered part of the SSG family.

For more information visit Spahr Solutions Group online

About the Veteran Led Podcast

The Veteran Led Podcast is dedicated to exploring the powerful leadership lessons learned in the military and how they apply to business, entrepreneurship, and community leadership. 

Hosted by John S. Berry, CEO of Berry Law and a former active-duty Infantry Officer in the U.S. Army, this podcast draws from the depth of military experience to offer insights into building successful teams, executing effective strategies, and achieving excellence in various endeavors.

The Veteran Led Podcast is a resource for anyone interested in understanding the impact of military leadership principles in the civilian world. It offers a straightforward look at how discipline, teamwork, and strategic thinking learned in the armed forces can lead to success in business and beyond.

Listeners can find the Veteran Led Podcast on major platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, Podtail, and YouTube. 

For more information about the podcast, Berry Law, and the veterans who make up their team, visit

Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

Related Posts

From Battlefield to Boardroom: How Veteran Eric Isham Built a Cybersecurity Empire 
From Battlefield to Boardroom: How Veteran Eric Isham Built a Cybersecurity Empire 
What Makes a Good Leader: Shilo Harris’s Journey From Trauma to Triumph 
What Makes a Good Leader: Shilo Harris’s Journey From Trauma to Triumph 
Army Veteran Vincent Vargas: Doing This His Own Way
Army Veteran Vincent Vargas: Doing This His Own Way

Subscribe to our newsletter

The Service Connection

Our monthly newsletter features about important and up-to-date veterans' law news, keeping you informed about the changes that matter.

Skip to content