• May 2015
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Ethical Edge Letters on Integrity  

Click here for Russell Williams' bio

Monday, June 07, 2010
A Tribute to John Wooden
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Discomfort is a powerful teacher
Howdy Doody management kills productivity

“The price of greatness is responsibility.” —Winston Churchill

I am giving away my age to my reader with this question, but I’ll ask it anyway: Do you know who Buffalo Bob and Howdy Doody are? If not, let me tell you.

The "Howdy Doody Show" was one of the first children’s TV programs in the 1950s. Buffalo Bob was the program host. He was a ventriloquist. His wooden puppet was Howdy Doody, a cowboy dummy. Buffalo Bob controlled every word and action of his dummy. Howdy Doody knew nothing about personal responsibility. He lacked all self-governance.

Let’s translate the Buffalo Bob-Howdy Doody paradigm as a management model for small, medium-sized and large businesses, or wherever you may find yourself in your professional world. The research on management theory supports one clear fact: Using a Howdy Doody management style kills creativity, productivity and collaboration. Why? It thwarts an individual’s use of their fundamental ethical asset, personal responsibility. What does the research say?

Here are four management morsels to chew on:

Hagberg Model of Personal Power/Hapberg: Management supporting internally motivated actions is guided by empowering and serving others.

Eight Attributes of Management Excellence/Peters & Waterman: Fostering autonomy and entrepreneurship are key management skills.

Four Dimensions of Relational Work/Butler & Waldroop: Personal influence is derived as professionals develop and extend their sphere of interpersonal influence.

Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse/Jennings: Fear and silence of employees to speak up is the No. 2 sign in cultures of ethical failures.

Wherever controlling Howdy Doody management becomes the operational model in an organization, personal responsibility goes into checkmate as the corporate culture communicates that decision-making and accountability are in the hands of a few – and the rest? Well, let’s just metaphorically say they are simply dummies!

Mission Integrity Action

I watch myself to see if I employ a Howdy Doody management style this week. If and when I do, I ask two questions: Why did I choose to exercise control? Was there a favorable result with those I controlled?

Appreciating you on the ethical edge!

Russell Williams,
Passkeys Foundation/Ethical Edge