The credibility of a major investigation into child pornography came under renewed scrutiny yesterday after an inquest into the death of a naval officer who was suspended by the Royal Navy despite a lack of evidence against him.
The Navy suspended Commodore David White, commander of British forces in Gibraltar, after police placed him under investigation over allegations that he bought pornographic images from a website in the US. Within 24 hours he was found dead at the bottom of the swimming pool at his home in Mount Barbary.
The inquest into his death heard that computer equipment and a camera memory chip belonging to Commodore White had yielded no evidence that he downloaded child pornography, and a letter was written by Ministry of Defence police to Naval Command on 5 January this year indicating that there were "no substantive criminal offences" to warrant pressing charges.
But the Second Sea Lord, Sir James Burnell-Nugent, feared that the media would report the case and on 7 January removed him from his post anyway.
Vice Admiral Burnell-Nugent went on to enjoy his life I would imagine without a thought for Commandore David White....
1st October 2005..the date reported on the inquest of Commadore David White....
10th Anniversary Dinner
14th September 2005, Banqueting House, Whitehall
14th September 2005, Banqueting House, Whitehall
Personal Insight Transcript : Sir James Burnell Nugent, Second Sea Lord, Royal Navy
“Your Royal Highness, Chairman, Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen. There is some risk of being condemned as being too closely allied with a clergyman or a management consultant by starting with a few quotations and a few statistics. It will not surprise you that many a study has been done into leadership and there is quite a convergence of results across the public and private sectors. Here are a few statistics.
30% of managers are poor at keeping their staff up to date. 35% of managers are poor at responding to suggestions. 37% of small and medium enterprises fail after three years and the top reason why they fail is poor leadership. 40% of staff do not respect the leadership of their boss, and 60% do not respect the leadership of their boss’s boss. There is probably an “anti-head office” factor in that final figure.
Let me give you a few other things that emerge from such studies. What are followers looking for in their leaders? Three things come up time and time again: vision, integrity and judgement. On integrity, you heard what the Chairman had to say about the importance of moral courage. Only 30% see those three characteristics in the leadership of their organisation. Vision, integrity and judgement.
Superficially within organisations in the public and private sectors, there is plenty of leadership froth. There is leadership activity but it is not reflected in day to day behaviours. It is not captured in appraisal systems and promotion criteria. Organisations with a weak leadership ethos miss opportunities for leadership development, miss opportunities to develop self-confidence in individuals and do not link reward and recognition to leadership. What else do these studies tell us? Which are the leadership skills in short supply. It is a variation on the same list: Vision in a fast changing environment, leading through change and innovation.
So we had better do something about this. The Windsor Leadership Trust is trying, and I’m very conscious that by the fact that you’re here this evening, you are aware that we do need to do something about leadership.
Going back to earlier in my career, I was lucky enough to be commanding a conventional submarine at the age of twenty eight. Of course, I thought I had the leadership thing completely worked out. My father, grandfather and great-grandfather had all been in the Navy, so commanding a ship at the age of twenty eight was in my genes, I was sure. I suspect everybody thinks that. Certainly in the military, in their first command. Even when a wiser and more senior officer came down for a “friendly chat” offering help with leadership, I completely missed the point as to what he was trying to tell me. It was several years later when I was introduced to the Windsor Leadership Trust that I realised perhaps some of the things I should have been thinking about a bit earlier in my career.
I have been to St George’s House with the Windsor Leadership Trust as a participant, a facilitator and a visiting speaker. Undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate, if that’s the right description. I’ve awarded myself those qualifications anyway! I have willingly given my time to do this, not just because I think it’s important and I hope to pass something on to others, but also because it does wonders for one’s own leadership development. There is nothing better for personal leadership development than having to facilitate a group of a dozen aspiring leaders or people already in key leadership positions. You have to think, talk, eat and breathe leadership for two or three days. It really concentrates your mind on the topic.
Let me return to the statistic I gave you, about 40% of people not valuing the leadership of their boss. This is a scary figure. Actually the 40% figure is at the lower end of the bracket; some studies give higher figures. There are 28 million people who go to work every day in this country. That means that 11 million people are getting out of bed in the morning, shaving, powdering their nose, whatever they do, getting on the bus, train or car and travelling to work. 11 million people, not wanting to work for their boss. Can you imagine it? Perhaps you can. Perhaps some of them are in this room.
In this great country of ours, we have had a number of revolutions over the years. We have had the agricultural revolution with the organisation of farming back in the middle ages. The scientific revolution, Isaac Newton and the great astronomers. The industrial revolution, well known to all of us. The social revolution. When was that? Between the wars maybe, but we certainly have been through it and we’re now maybe two thirds of the way through the computer revolution, or the information revolution.
What I suggest to you, is that we need in this country most desperately and most urgently is a leadership revolution. That 40% figure; those 11 million people; we will never get that figure down to zero; but just imagine if we could get the figure of the people who do not want to work for their boss down from 40% to 30%. That would seem to be a reasonable challenge. That would be an extra 2.8 million people getting up in the morning, wanting to go to work for their boss as opposed to not wanting to go to work for their boss. Just think what that would do for productivity, for delivery. Whether you are public or private sector, provider or consumer, just think what that would do for this country. We could have an extra 2.8 million people in our workforce just by investing in leadership as opposed to perhaps investing in other things.
To conclude - if you invite a naval officer to say a few words in 2005, as I am sure you have noticed, Nelson gets a mention! Would Nelson be able to help us today with these leadership issues? I can do no better than to read you the Trafalgar Memorandum, which Nelson sent to Collingwood and to his commanding officers on the 12th of October 1805, just nine days before his death at the Battle of Trafalgar. Notice how short it is, when compared to company reports or documents the size of doorstops coming out of Whitehall.
This is what Nelson wrote. “I send you my plan of attack as far as a man dare venture to guess at the very uncertain position you may be found in. But it is to place you perfectly at ease regarding my intentions and to give full scope to your judgement to carrying them to effect. We can have no jealousies. We have only one great object in view, that of annihilating our enemies and getting a glorious peace for our country. No man has more confidence in another than I have in you. The whole impression of the British fleet must be to overpower. Something must be left to chance; nothing is sure in a sea fight. Shot will carry away the masts and yards of friends as well as foes. Captains are to look to their lines as their rallying point, but in case signals can neither be seen nor perfectly understood no Captain can do very wrong if he places his ship close alongside that of the enemy.”
Separating out the war fighting elements, which are really the best bits, the leadership message in there is superb. To my mind it is the definitive leadership message. “ I wish to place you perfectly at ease regarding my intentions. I give full scope to your judgement. No man has more confidence in another than I have in you, and we have only one great object in view.” Isn’t that the definitive, strategic leadership model?
Here comes the trick question. Have any of your bosses ever said that to you? Has anybody ever said to you “I trust your judgement completely”? More tellingly, have you ever said that to anybody who works for you? I suspect not. Perhaps you have, in which case, well done! It seems to me that this style of leadership - we have only one strategic objective in view - I have the greatest confidence in you - I trust your judgement completely - I wish you to be perfectly at ease – is just what is needed. This kind of leadership technique, albeit two hundred years old, is just what is needed to reach out to those 2.8 million people who we want to enjoy working for their boss, as opposed to not wanting to work for their boss.
So my message is - let’s get cracking with the leadership revolution – and the Windsor Leadership Trust is an excellent place to start.
Thank you very much.”