Home > Culture, Morality, Organization > The “Phantom Menace Syndrome”, or, How US Navy Capt. Owen Honors Learned About Filmmaking

The “Phantom Menace Syndrome”, or, How US Navy Capt. Owen Honors Learned About Filmmaking

The big story of the week is the relief from command of Navy Captain Owen Honors for videos which he evidently wrote, produced, directed, and starred in from 2006-2007 while serving as the Executive Officer of the USS Enterprise.  Apparently, Captain Honors did not heed the lessons to be learned from either George Lucas or Kevin Costner – when you try to do too much yourself in showbiz, it always comes back to haunt you.

This episode is bound to conjure up painful organizational memories for the US Navy of the Tailhook Scandal, and set off a similar debate about professionalism in the US military.  Already there is an article in Christian Science Monitor in which the headline asks the question, “Do lewd videos point to deeper problem for military?”  The article answers its own question, in a manner of speaking.  The article quotes  Kaye Whitley, director of the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, as stating, “It’s a leadership issue.”  Well, Kaye, in reality its a bit deeper than that. 

It is a cultural issue, which is a reflection of leadership.  According to CS Monitor, senior leaders in the Navy knew about these videos long before they became public, yet are only now taking action.  It’s a leadership issue alright.  But its not Captain Honors’ leadership issue (for him it is a professionalism/ethical issue).  No, it is a leadership issue for all the leaders who knew about this, yet were perfectly happy to promote Honors up the chain because he got results.  That is, until it became public.  Now, those same leaders are perfectly happy to flame Honors for his actions, but only because now they are embarrassing the Navy.

You can’t tell me this is the first time Honors did this, either.  Certainly there have been other incidents, which Honors’ leaders were happy to overlook, most likely because Honors was a result-getter.  Regardless of all the talk in the military about integrity, professionalism, etc., results-getters and mission-accomplishers get away with a lot because senior leaders are willing to overlook “little” incidents like this – that is, until they become big incidents.  The sin isn’t doing something unprofessional – the sin is only getting caught.

Its a leadership issue alright.  Every single leader who looked the other way and allowed Honors to come up through the ranks unimpeded is to blame.  Yet, mark my words – aside from the officer who was the Captain of the Enterprise at the time the videos were shown – NO OTHER SENIOR LEADER WILL BE PUNISHED.  Sadly, that is the way these things work. 

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Categories: Culture, Morality, Organization
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