Reviewing Management Styles Modeled For Us Through TV Shows

Guest Blog by Hank Moore 4/22/2012
Management styles reflect human basic behaviors.  Bosses and employees all reflect one of the four basic behavioral styles:




1. The Steady Relater. 

They want to maintain good relationships.

We’re all in this together. So, let’s work as a team.

They like to maintain the status quo and are reluctant to make changes.

They are drawn to helping professions, focusing upon relationships.

2. The Cautious Thinker. 

The overriding concern is for accuracy.

Can you provide documentation for the claims?

They focus first on each task at hand.

They move slowly and are self-contained.

They are technicians and are drawn toward exact sciences.

3. The Dominant Director.  

The need is to get the job done.

I want it done right, and I want it done now!

They need to make the decisions and be in charge.

They are managers of organizations and departments.

4. The Interactive Socializer. 

They want to be noticed.

Let me tell you what happened to me.

They love variety, hate routine and should be shown the Big Picture.

They need to be where the action is and choose creative, high profile professions.

Questions Bosses Ask

At some point, most of us experienced either “boss from hell,” or the employee who just wouldn’t fit into the organization, or the co-worker who persisted in digging his-her own grave.

What was wrong with those people?  Why couldn’t they get their acts together?  Couldn’t they realize that going with the flow would have been easier than against it?

Where were they standing when the brains and the people skills were handed out?  And, why were our careers cursed by their getting in our paths?

Many people have banes of their professional existence…difficult bosses, employees and co-workers who make life miserable.  We do not understand how they got to be that way, usually from being ill-prepared for the job at hand.

Media Role Models 

As we grew up, television bosses were our first experience to the catbird seat.  Here is an analysis of some of them.

Boss                                    Title/Company                                    Characteristics

Arthur Carlson, General Manager, radio station, “WKRP in Cincinnati”

Got job through nepotism.  Won’t make decisions.  Unfocused, ambivalent.

Milburn Drysdale, President, Commerce Bank, “The Beverly Hillbillies”

Too focused on one client.  Money, profits only focus.

J.R. Ewing, CEO, oil company, “Dallas” Unscrupulous. No ethics.

Lou Grant, News Director, WJM-TV, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”

Drank on the job.  Loud, harassed employees.  Uneven temper.

Thurston Howell, III, Chairman, Howell Industries, “Gilligan’s Island”

Vein, aristocratic, aloof.  Away from business.  Stranded on island and not available for decision-making.

Martin Lane, Newspaper Editor, “The Patty Duke Show”

Crusading, fair journalist.  Balanced in home life.


Britt Reid, Newspaper Publisher, “The Green Hornet”

Crusader, on and off the job.

Hannibal Smith, “The A-Team”/soldiers of fortune            Tough. Don’t cross him.

Alexander Waverly, Head of secret agent team, “The Man From UNCLE,”  “The Girl From UNCLE”

Fair, visionary. Able to cut through red tape.  Empowered employees to take risks, get action.

Perry White, Newspaper editor, The Daily Planet, “Superman”

Criticized employees often.  Rare constructive input.

There were some small business role models.  We mostly heard about their work situations at home but did not see them.  Though kind hearted to their families, we never got a sense of the symbiosis of their professional life with the TV screen portrayal.

Employee                        Show                                                Occupation

Jim Anderson, “Father Knows Best”.  Manager, General Insurance Co.

Mike Brady, “The Brady Bunch”.  Architect

Howard Cunningham, “Happy Days”.   Owner, Cunningham Hardware

Sam Drucker,       “Petticoat Junction” and “Green Acres”.  Owner, Hooterville General Store

Dale Evans, “Roy Rogers Show”.  Cafe proprietor

Herbert T. Gillis, “Dobie Gillis”.  Owner, Gillis Grocery Store

James Grumby, “Giligan’s Island”.  Captain, USS Minnow

Dr. Robert Hartley, “Bob Newhart Show”.  Psychologist in private practice

John Herrick, “Waterfront”.  Captain, “The Cheryl Ann” (tugboat)

Rebecca Howe, “Cheers”.  Manager, Cheers Bar

Clair Huxtable, “The Cosby Show”.  Attorney

Fred and Ethel Mertz, “I Love Lucy”.  Owners, apartment building

Jim Newton, “Fury”.  Owner, Broken Wheel Ranch

Paladin, “Have Gun, Will Travel”.  Freelance mediator of trouble, Gunfighter

Josh Randall, “Wanted: Dead or Alive”.  Freelance crime investigator, Bounty hunter

Kitty Russell, “Gunsmoke”.  Owner, Long Branch Saloon

Mel Sharples, “Alice”.  Owner, Mel’s Diner

Howard Sprague, “Mayberry RFD”.  County Clerk

Dr. Alex Stone, “Donna Reed Show”.  Pediatrician

Arnold Takahashi, “Happy Days”.   Owner, Arnold’s Drive-In

Honey West, “Honey West”.  Owner, private investigation firm

The business role models on early TV were hard working, underpaid and diligent employees.  With few bosses as role models, we just naturally identified more with competent workers.

Employee                        Show                     Occupation

Agents 86 and 99, “Get Smart”.  Secret agents

Pepper Anderson, “Police Woman”.  Police sergeant

Ward Cleaver, “Leave It to Beaver”.  Businessman, profession not revealed

Roy Coffee, “Bonanza”.  Sheriff

Laverne DeFazio, “Laverne and Shirley”.  Bottle capper, Shotz Brewery

Jim Dial, “Murphy Brown”.  TV news anchor

Steve Douglas, “My Three Sons”.  Engineer

Elsie Ethrington, “The Flying Nun”.  Nun, AKA “Sister Bertrille”

Florida Evans, “Good Times”.  School bus driver, Roadway Bus Co.

Shirley Feeney, “Laverne and Shirley”.  Bottle capper, Shotz Brewery

Fred Flintstone,  “The Flintstones”.  Dinosaur operator

Arthur Fonzarelli, “Happy Days”.  Mechanic, Otto’s Auto Orphanage

Chester Good, “Gunsmoke”.  Aide to U.S. Marshal Matt Dillon

Emily Hartley, “The Bob Newhart Show”.  School teacher

Tom Hartman, “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman”.  Factory worker

Amos Jones, “Amos n’ Andy”.  Cab driver

Dr. Richard Kimble, “The Fugitive”.  Obstetrician, on leave of absence

Gerald Kookson, “77 Sunset Strip”.  Parking lot attendant

Ralph Kramden, “The Honeymooners”.  Bus driver

Susie McNamara, “Ann Sothern Show”.  Private secretary

Henry Mitchell, “Dennis the Menace”.  Engineer

Rhoda Morgenstern, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”.  Retail window decorator

Harry Morton, “Burns and Allen Show”.  Real estate salesman

Tony Nelson, “I Dream of Jeannie”.  Astronaut

Edward L. Norton, “The Honeymooners”.  Sewer worker

Wilbur Post, “Mr. Ed”.  Architect

Chester A. Riley, “Life of Riley”.  Factory worker

Ann Romano, “One Day at a Time” .  Ad agency account executive

Sam, “Richard Diamond”.  Small business answering service

Jonathan Smith, “Highway to Heaven”.  Angel

Cosmo Topper, “Topper”.  Banker

Jack Tripper, “Three’s Company”.  Chef, Angelino’s Italian Restaurant

Dorothy Zbornak, “The Golden Girls”.  English teacher


Lonely at the Top.

Just as bosses are not properly schooled in supervising other people and juggling multiple roles, they suffer the “lonely at the top” syndrome.  Heads of companies receive filtered information from within.  They don’t know which outside consultants to trust and, as a result, don’t use the ones they should.

The process of walking through landmines causes most bosses to learn as they go.  Few companies have the luxury of a long executive development curve.  Thus, supervisors must compress their growth process, while getting maximum productivity out of their workers.

These truths exist in the workplace:

• Good bosses were good employees.  They are consistent and have understanding for both roles.

• Bad bosses likely were not ideal employees.  They too are consistent in career history.

• Poor people skills cloud any job performance and overshadow good technical skills.

• The worst bosses do not sustain long careers at the top.  Their track record catches up with them, whether they choose to acknowledge it or not.

• Good workers don’t automatically become good bosses.

• Just because someone is technically proficient or is an exemplary producer does not mean that he-she will transition to being a good boss.  Very few great school teachers like becoming principals, for that reason.  Good job performers are better left doing what they do best.

• Administrators, at all levels, need to be properly trained as such, not bumped up from the field to do something for which they have no inclination.

• At some point in our lives, we are better suited to be a boss than to be an employee.

• Leadership and executive development skills are steadily learned and continually sharpened.  One course or a quick-read book will not instill them.  The best leaders are prepared to go the distance.

• Being your own boss is yet another lesson.  People who were downsized from a corporate environment suddenly enter the entrepreneurial world and find the transition to be tough.

Management Traps.

The most common fatal flaws of supervisors include:

• Insensitivity and/or abrasiveness to employees.

• Tendency to over-manage.

• Inability to delegate.

• Inflexibility.

• Poor crisis management…are reactive to problems, rather than being pro-active.

• Aloofness.

Bosses traditionally manage things so that workers will do things right.  The preferable style is to lead people, so that they will do the right things.

Most workers do not perform up to standards because they are not fully told what is expected.  90% of mistakes are made because of wrong instructions.  Failure to communicate and provide training on the front end proves more costly to business in the longrun.

Within the ranks of workers, chain reactions occur.  Attitudes create other problems.  They may be delegated tasks but are not held accountable.  Responsibility rests upon employees, just as it does with their supervisors.

How to Get More From Employees.

Use the acronym SCORE to motivate staff in the best manner:

• Seek suggestions.

• Comfort employees.

• Offer opportunities.

• Reassure them.

• Encourage risk taking.

The following suggestions are offered to maximize productivity:

• Set and maintain boundaries, while giving employees the latitude to add their own touches and, thus, invest themselves in their jobs.

• Set performance standards, giving reasons, tasks to perform and a vision of what “finished” looks like.

• Assign priorities.

• Have starting and ending times for project assignments, rather than be nebulous.

• Identify your people’s strengths and weaknesses.

• Pinpoint staff’s strengths in relation to the company’s strengths at the soonest possible point.

Employees should aspire to be leaders.  Thus, they will become empowered employees and will be ready to assume supervisory duties, when appropriate. Effective leaders:

• Provide vision.

• Inspire commitment.

• Create strategies.

• Encourage, rather than push or force people to do things.

• Realize that, with a team effort, everyone’s share of the pie grows.

In summation, as one climbs The Organization Tree (Career Track for Professionals), one must amass skills and knowledge, as well as the:

• Art of being a leader.

• Art of being a boss.

• Art of being a good team member.

• Art of interchanging roles, responsibilities…the mark of a truly valuable professional.


By Hank Moore, Corporate Strategist

His current book is “The Business Tree,” published internationally by Career Press.

His next book is “Power Stars to Light the Flame: The Business Visionaries and You.”


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