Captain Owen Honors: no honour in this career debacle

Posted January 6, 2011 in Latest News & Insights

Owen HonorsSo Captain Owen Honors of the USS Enterprise (seriously, Hollywood couldn’t do better with these names!) has found himself in hot water over some ridiculous video’s he shot back in 2006.  Cap’n Honors torpedoed his 25 year naval career when video’s featured crude humour, foul language and sexual innuendo surfaced last week.  The videos were shown as a “morale boosting” effort to the 5000 or so officers on board the Enterprise.  Honors has been relieved of his command for showing “lack of judgment” (do you think?!).  What’s not clear is why video’s that were shot 4 years ago are only now causing his head to roll.

Since shooting the initial videos, Honors was promoted from second in command on the Enterprise (when the video’s were shown) through several key posts until his most recent position of top dog of the Enterprise.  Captain Honors “XO Movie Nights” were well-known within and outside of the navy, and yet his superiors did nothing about it… except apparently promote him.

Honors would probably still be sitting pretty if the video’s hadn’t been leaked, but now that they have it left me to wonder: what’s the responsibility of those in senior leadership positions around this situation?  If you are aware that someone is exercising poor judgment by shooting Jackass style idiotic video’s… shouldn’t you, as their boss, do something about it?

Personally, something stinks about this situation.  I’m not saying Honors shouldn’t be relieved of his duties.  I don’t care what your “cultural norms” are in your workplace… there’s never room for derogatory or demeaning remarks.  However, in my opinion, Cap’n Honors head isn’t the only one that should be rolling on this issue.

As a leader, if you have direct reports that are pulling stupid stunts like this, it’s your responsibility to put an end to it immediately… not four years down the road… and not after multiple promotions.  Ridiculous.  Another lesson for the “how not to do it” files.

Happy leading.

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  1. Melodie Barnett says:

    Have you heard of the photos our own Russell Williams took of himself? Obviously a different scenario entirely, especially given Williams didn’t broadcast his horrific behaviour across the base, but leaves one to ponder, how many of us are really truly reflected in who we are at work? Will be interesting to see over time if there were signs, because I’m sure there were, that Colonel Williams wasn’t who he seemed. And what did his peers and superiors do about it? In most cases, finding out the true unsavoury nature of a leader results in embarrassment for the organization associated with the idiot; unfortunately in Williams’ case, it resulted in rape and death.

  2. True enough. Your comment makes me think of the usefulness of screening and assessments. The military, to my knowledge, puts people through a battery of tests to make sure they’re psychologically capable and not nut jobs. Just shows you that, it doesn’t matter how many IO Psychologists put you through the grinder, assessments aren’t bulletproof. Given that lots of organizations are now using more and more assessments to screen candidates, it’s a clear reminder that they’re not going to necessarily uncover what’s really going on with someone. At the end of the day though, the main difference here is that Williams was obviously a complete psychopath while Honor seems like more of a certified “asshole” (to quote Bob Sutton, who’s book The No Asshole Rule is a great read by the way). 🙂

  3. Melodie Barnett says:


  4. Captain Owen Honors: no honour in this career debacle | RoundtableTalk…

    Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……

  5. Mark Klein says:

    You are bang-on in shoving accountability up the chain of command on this issue. By silently condoning the behaviour, Honors boss(s) perpetuated the employee’s embarrassing “morale boosting” initiatives… Although promoting a guy like Honours can’t even be categorized as ‘silently’ condoning his behaviour, now can it?

    Honors should be sent to some far-off desert with a shovel and no sunscreen, to bury his career for good. And his superiors can jump into the hole along with him.

  6. Yeah…but I suppose if leaders ever started getting called on and toasted for condoning this type of behaviour, I’d have nothing to write about. 🙂 Dare to dream…