Airmen would ring the Warrant Officer Disciplinary to ask his opinion on what punishment that were going to be given if they were found guilty.
'That will be up to the CO,' Henry would say in his booming parade ground voice modulated for telephone. 'But I suggest you bring your toothbrush.'
He would always schedule trials for Fridays. Punishments took effect immediately so the convicted airman had lost a weekend to restriction of privileges or extra guard duty by the time I reviewed the transcript on Monday. It was Henry's insurance against me finding an error of law and the conviction being quashed.
Henry's tactics to stop the Law from interfering with Discipline didn't affect our relationship. As the Senior Airman on Base, he was fiercely protective of the welfare of the hundreds of airmen who feared him. He had no doubt about his Widget. Some asked him how he felt about having a Legal Officer around. 'I was the one who got the position established and got the Flight Lieutenant posted here,' he would answer, only slightly embellishing the truth. Henry was too good at his job to feel threatened by a junior officer lawyer.
We met and bantered every morning in his immaculate office with his polished pace stick resting on its cradle along the front edge of his desk. As his retirement date approached our meetings became later and he knocked off earlier. 'Working back, Henry?' I'd say at 11am. 'Just waiting for the Sergeants Mess Bar to open, Sir.'
He introduced me to his replacement. 'The Legal Officer comes to my office every morning at eight,' Henry told him. 'And I give Sir his list of jobs for the day.' The new guy looked baffled.
The Monday after Henry retired the new WOD rang me at 8.05 wondering why I wasn't in his office to get my list of jobs. I complied so he wouldn't feel foolish. He rang looking for me each day for a week after that. I never turned up. He stopped calling me.
I think of Henry and the new guy each time I've seen the leadership game being played in workplaces. Good people keep turning up to do work for bad bosses.
The boss assumes that his workers keep turning up and doing good work because of his leadership, management, wisdom, charisma or intellect. Because of the course he did on 'Working With Gen Y', the books he's read, his imposing office, his annual performance reviews of them, and his generous 'My Door's Always Open' policy. Because of his well-run staff meetings, the Thank You speech he made at the Staff Christmas Party, the witty asides at the Birthday Morning Teas, his reserved car space. Or because he's firm but fair. Or because they aspire to be like him one day.
More likely it's in spite of him.
They have mortgages and superannuation that need them to turn up and pride that demands they do good work.
Unlike me with Henry's replacement, they have to turn up and play the game.