A Leading Perspective

Pragmatic insights for the leader in you

Password & Leadership

A Guest Post from Buzz Rooney


Growing up in New Jersey, I spent my days with my grandmother while my parents went to work. It was there I developed my love for soap operas, talk shows and game shows. One of my favorites was “Password” on NBC hosted at the time by Burt Convy. In preparing for this post, I learned the original show aired in 1961 on CBS and had 5 runs total on all 3 of the major networks, in both daytime and primetime.

Here’s how the game works:

Two teams, each consisting of one celebrity and one contestant, compete. The “password” is given to one player on each team and shown to the audience. The player with the password has to give a one-word clue to their partner; then the partner attempts to guess the password.


If the partner fails to guess the password within the time limit or if an illegal clue is given, the other team gets a turn. The teams take turns until someone guesses the password correctly or until ten clues have been given with no correct guesses. A group of five passwords make up the “super password” the team must try to guess at the end of each round. The team who wins the most rounds wins the game.

Check out this clip of Password to see the game in action.


Password offers a great lesson to leaders and managers on how to achieve success in our organizations.


It is our duty to know the mission, vision, values and goals of the organization – these are like the “password.”

Our password is the ultimate way we do business and the reasons why we do what we do how we do. Unless we own and operate our own business, we often do not select the password – it is dictated to us. We must then move forward and figure out the best way to explain and execute it.


It is our duty to share this knowledge with the rest of our organization so they understand and embrace our way of doing business – these are like the “clues” one player gives the other. Our clues are conveyed in how we orient, train and develop employees within our organization.  Our clues are our culture. Our clues are the patterns and habits found in our data and recordkeeping.


Our clues tell the players on our team, the audience and all of our opponents what we think, feel and believe about our password. 


Our clues make the difference between winning and losing. If we can’t successfully convey our clue and get people to understand the password from it, we lose.


There is one more piece to the Password game that we cannot forget about: the other player on our team!


Like the employees in our organizations, they must be attentive, open and receptive to listening, learning and mirroring behavior based on the clues conveyed about the password.


Sometimes, the other player is … a dud!! No matter how hard we try, they just cannot seem to catch a clue. And when that happens, we lose – and they lose. Our organization suffers – and the game seems to drag on forever … without the benefit of editing, time limits or commercial breaks. It can be painful, stressful and expensive.

However, when the game works properly – the password is clear, the clues are candid and concise, and the other player is compliant and complaisant … Everyone wins!

Then, we all win big!




About the Series

I have declared May, “the month of fun”!  I’ve always enjoyed watching game shows and I know there are lessons to be learned while watching some healthy competition!  That being said, I’ve asked some trusted colleagues to write a guest post about a game show and their lessons learned as it pertains to their career.  I hope you enjoy them!


About the Author

Buzz Rooney is a practicing HR Professional with over 10 years experience in the production, manufacturing and retail industries. She currently works for a large retail franchise handling employee relations, health benefits, COBRA, wellness, leave of absence and compliance.

Buzz has Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies with a focus on Organizational Communication and Leadership as well as a Master’s Degree in Human Resources Management. She is also a part-time HR consultant offering basic management coaching/training, process improvement, resume writing, compliance assistance and human resources generalist services.

I connected with Buzz via Twitter after I heard her on DriveThru HR.  I knew right away I liked her and that we would be friends!  She’s insightful, caring, funny and generous with her time and talents!  What’s not to like?

Read more of her writings, connect and contact her through her website  The Buzz on HR.




Employee EngagementHuman ResourcesLeadershipMissionTeamworkValueVauesVision

Heather Kinzie • May 16, 2012

Previous Post

Next Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published / Required fields are marked *

WordPress spam blocked by CleanTalk.