Skip to main content
December 21, 2020

Learning from Success & Failure – Air Marshal Sir Graham Stacey KCB CB & Jonathan Bowman-Perks: Inspiring Leadership Interview

Podcast Details

Air Marshal (Retd) Sir Graham Stacey KBE CB is a former Royal Air Force Regiment Officer. He was the Chief of Staff of NATO Allied Command Transformation until July 2018. Prior to that, in a series of major international appointments, he was the deputy commander of NATO Joint Force Command Brunssum, the commander of British Forces Cyprus and the UK Senior Advisor to US Central Command. Previously he was Director Joint Warfare at the UK Permanent Joint Force Headquarters (PJHQ) and for a number of years, as a secondary role, was the lead mentor and director of the RAF’s Senior Leadership Development Programme.

He commanded at every level and saw operational service in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, the Gulf, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. He continues to be active in the fields of leadership and organisational development, innovation, the application of emerging and disruptive technologies, C2 and decision making in multinational environments and international analysis, strategy and policy in a variety of consultant, director and NED positions. As an RAF Regiment Officer, he served on operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. For him his first defining moment was as his very steep learning curve a young 21 year old Officer leading 38 tough RAF Soldiers.

He was always prepared to volunteer for doing the different and unusual jobs; such as an exchange officer in Indonesia & NI Research Agency. His break came with being selected to join the personal staff of Carl Bildt in Bosnia – the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina and a crucial special envoy and mediator. Carl was an unusual, unassuming, quiet and bright Inspiring Leader. In Graham’s experience leaders come in every size, shape, gender and background. It is crucial to “Be YOU”. In Kabul Graham was inspired by a colleague who worked for him called Paula – she was a young female RAF Officer running the busiest airfield in the world. Also, Graham worked for and became a close friend of Air Marshal Sir Stu Peach who became Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). Stu is now Chairman of The NATO Military Committee. Graham chose General Joe Dunford US Marines who inspires by his skills: quiet, listens, considers your views, treats everyone as special, politically astute and yet decisive. Joe had a special blend of Soldier, Diplomat, Philosopher and States-person.

He was adept at handling difficult relationships and matrix organisations. When discussing Graham’s own mistake and learning he reflected on his time as 2 * Commander of Cyprus. His view is you learn every day and try to improve. In the Cyprus case “One of my Unit Commanders had been accusations of bullying, harassment and inappropriate treatment of his subordinates”. As he was months from the end of 39 years’ service I was encouraged, against my better judgement to allow him a dignified departure. I was in a dilemma – do I not dismiss him, but rather move him for his last few months? Ironically, he in turn was ungrateful and made slanderous accusations against me and my staff. I learnt – “Trust your instincts”.

How can we help you?