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Inspirational Leaders

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Inspirational Leaders

Old 13th Aug 2008, 22:33
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Inspirational Leaders

Air Chief Marshal the Earl of Bandon would be my choice of an inspirational leader.


First visit to Gan - 1958

When he made his first visit to Gan in 1958 we servicemen had a grievance in that although we met all the requirements we wern't being allowed access to the official R&R flights to Singapore as laid down in QR's or AMO's for personnel stuck at Gan. However we had the opportunity to rectify this when the C-in-C FEAF ACM The Earl of Bandon made his first visit to the island.



A good listener and never one for 'officialdom' he insisted on talking to us over a beer without other officers being present and asked what complaints we had. The main one raised was "why were Gan personnel were not being permitted to take advantage of the R & R indulgence flights to Singapore as laid down in Air Ministry or FEAF Orders?"

He said he'd look into the matter on his return. He was PDQ because about two weeks later our complaints were answered and indulgence flights to Singapore were available and I was one of the many who took advantage of them.

With this sort of attitude he was regarded with a great deal of affection by his men. He was commonly known to those under his command as "The Abandoned Earl", or if you really knew him well as "Paddy".

He was outspoken and got himself 'into hot water' on a number of occasions, one such being in 1957 when as C in C, 2nd Tactical Air Force, he received a reprimand from George Ward, Secretary of State for Air, for stating to the press, without MOD approval that tactical nuclear weapons would soon be issued to forces in Europe.

Yet another reprimand occurred when he omitted to inform Whitehall that he was taking unilateral action to quell an uprising of Maldivians who were against the setting up of the RAF staging post at Gan. Although his action had saved the situation, feelings in the MOD and Whitehall were hurt and he received an enormous reprimand from the CDS, Lord Mountbatten, which came to him in signal form. He promptly had the signal framed and hung it on the wall of his office!

On another occasion as C-in-C FEAF he opened a new service swimming pool by jumping in fully clothed to declare it open!
I wonder how many of our present leaders would do such a thing?

His obituary in The Times concluded: "No other airman has ever held so many operational commands as did Bandon, and no one is ever likely to in the future."

Last edited by Warmtoast; 10th Nov 2022 at 20:34.
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Old 13th Aug 2008, 22:48
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Think it's safe to say The Real Slim Shady won't be featuring on this list.
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Old 14th Aug 2008, 08:23
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A Truly Inspiring Gentleman

May I offer ACM Sir John Cheshire. A truly inspiring gentleman who, during his climb up the slippery promotion pole, never changed his attitude of charm, calm and loyalty to those he commanded, of whatever rank. It was, sadly, not his lot to reach the top of the Service tree as CAS. That was the RAF's mistake. His lovely wife Sam, must also be mentioned. Recent pic of Sir John:

90th Anniversary of The Royal Air Force, 11 July 2008

What about a thread of uninspiring leaders? There was a thread about a certain v senior officer, of whom little need be said, some time ago but it was pulled probably before legal proceedings ensued!

Pip pip

ON
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Old 14th Aug 2008, 15:39
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Must be something in the name. For an inspirational example of a great leader do some research on Leonard Cheshire (VC, OM, DSO and Two Bars, DFC).

An amazing man, both during and after WW2.
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Old 14th Aug 2008, 15:43
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Keep it positive

I believe in the old adage: "Praise in public, criticise in private".
I don't think that this forum should condone character assassination - deserved or not - by posters hiding behind nom-de-plumes.
sv
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Old 14th Aug 2008, 16:12
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I've had a couple of inspirational bosses, most of whom I respected because they knew their stuff inside out, got it done when the chips were down, but stood out by taking a genuine interest in their people. Several more of my bosses have tried to feign interest, so I guess Cranwell includes it as part of a lesson, but the people who stand apart are the ones who balance getting the job done with concern for the team.

By contrast, my current wg cdr continues to unknowingly inspire me into believing my current plans to exit the Service are sound, irrespective of the economy!
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Old 14th Aug 2008, 18:56
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Danny Lavender on 6 Sqdn loved to bits by the groundcrew.

Bill Wratten on 23 and Staish at Coningsby a very good boss.
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Old 14th Aug 2008, 20:12
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One name.

Archie Winskill.

Anyone who could get away with wearing suede bondhu boots and 1A uniform in front of HM Queen Elizabeth ("Well, my feet hurt, Ma'am") does it for me.

A magic guy and boss.
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Old 15th Aug 2008, 13:29
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Thanks for the comments guys, seems I am not alone in not being inspired by our current bunch of leaders


As an aside, I note TRSS has ripped off this tread and posted it on e-goat. I shall take it as a compliment - thank you
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Old 16th Aug 2008, 08:37
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Geoff Simpson

Difficult to identify one individual that has left his/her mark of inspiration upon one's outlook. However, one that changed my attitude more than any other was Geoff Simpson (Simpo), then Station Commander at Waddington (mid 90s).

Good humoured and professional he also had that element of a personable nature that put all ranks at their ease without trying to be a 'mate'. Willing to take on the hierarchy without alienating them, he achieved many good things for his people and station in such a way as to ensure that it never appeared to be a personal glory hunt.

One memorable incident occurred during an AFI when the 'Scottish' AVM was AOC. There had been great disquiet on the stn at the commitment to Bosnia and the reluctance of 11 Gp to increase the number of crews (E3D) therefore the sqn (singular at the time) was being thrashed. Simpo told all officers to be in the Mess bar by 1630. At the end of the day, said AVM was heading for his 125 when Simpo simply took him to the bar, opened the door turned to the AVM and said, "you've been telling me you can't afford to support these guys, now tell them" and pushed him in, literally. He wouldn't let him leave without hearing what his decisions actually meant to the guys on the sqn.

Unsurprisingly it was a short period before crews were increased and subsequently the additional sqn added.

How many would risk their careers by doing the same these days? Very few I suspect.
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Old 16th Aug 2008, 17:57
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Geoff Simpson

Can't say he did much inspiration when he was Det Co in Riyadh during Gulf pt 1.

Impression I got was only interested in the tankers that were based there.

Hercs.....were they there as well???
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Old 1st Sep 2008, 19:27
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Compare and contrast Cheshire and Gibson. An interesting study in leadership.
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Old 4th Sep 2008, 15:11
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Inspirational Leaders

I can think of numerous from history who deserved the label -leader. Have met a few inspirational Gp Capts who having had their 'cards read' decide to retire! Only know of one Air Ranking Officer who would be followed to Hell and back by those that worked for him -I will spare his blushes -he is still an Air Commodore. However, according to the blunties his paperwork wasn't as good as his predecessor - he was too busy being with the people he commanded! Net result, the adminers preferrred the predecessor (though his predecessor was a cnut) because they had less to do! Lesson is that in todays Air Force being inspirational is not enough (though it should be). If you have the political savvy to get to the top it should debarr you from being there -a sort of catch 22!
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Old 9th Nov 2022, 17:25
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I have know Phil for 30+ years from my time when he joined 613VGS. He had left the RAF at that point was an MD at Ferranti International and mentored me through college and my first job at Ferranti.

A truly, truly great leader who is sadly in poor health at the moment.
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Old 9th Nov 2022, 17:59
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An interesting thread that rather confirms my theory that the only leaders required by the Royal Air Force are to be found behind the station gates. I was fortunate in my time to have some excellent bosses but to be fair I had little or no contact with the various Station Commanders involved, with exception of one at RAF Fairford. His incompetence was not only clear to we low life but to the CoC also, and he was summarily moved on and replaced.

Outside of the Station Gates the RAF is a bureaucracy which wants conformity to approved policy rather than people persons. As others have pointed out this was not the case with the ex-WWII VSOs who filled the appointments in my day. We had Mickey Martin as an AOC. Renowned for slipping his minders on an AOCs Inspection to find crew rooms and tea bars where he could find what the real issues were rather than those told him by his staff! Normal service resumed though with their post war replacements.
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Old 9th Nov 2022, 21:15
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I still believe that JW the Stn Cdr at Bruggen mid 70's was the most inspirational leader I worked for in 38 years, Cliff Spink was another.
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Old 10th Nov 2022, 10:23
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Am I allowed to extend the list, despite not having met one of these individuals?

David Marquet - he of "Turn The Ship Around" fame. Changed his submarine's fortunes from dire to top of the fleet simply by truly empowering all in his command.

A serving senior army officer of my acquaintance who it would be unfair to name, described to me by a serving colleague as "someone they'd follow into battle" and "the army needs more leaders like them". And having spent even a short amount of time in their company, I can see why. Even in a non-military setting, those qualities are readily apparent.
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Old 10th Nov 2022, 12:11
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Having read granmarriott's take on Wr@tten, I find it interesting that one person's inspirational leader becomes, by the time he's reached the top of the greasy pole, another's lying, conniving back-stabber. Don't think you'd find too many people in the overstretched, thinly-spread Chinook Mk 2 world of 1994 onwards who shared that rosy view of him.
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Old 10th Nov 2022, 15:40
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Bill Wratten on 23 and Staish at Coningsby a very good boss.
Seriously...??
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Old 10th Nov 2022, 17:24
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I suppose that you can fool some of the people, some of the time.
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