All ears will be listening to Tiger Woods tomorrow. But today, everyone has an opinion about him.
One side says, “What he does in his personal life is none of our business. Is he still a great golfer? If he is, who cares? Let him get back to work!”
Another side says, “He was a role model. People looked up to him. His behavior is deplorable. I hope every sponsor drops him and his wife leaves him….”
I am guessing a very real part of the punishment for Tiger is to have stood on Mt. Olympus, to have shared footing with the gods, to have become Zeus…and then to have fallen.
One thing is undeniable: his popularity has plummeted. Woods once held a record that had nothing to do with golf. He had the highest popularity rating in Gallup’s history with a whopping 88% in 2000; after news of the scandal broke, his rating dropped to thirty-three percent.
In one poll, 19% of respondents said that they have a less favorable view of the products that Tiger endorsed as a result of the bad press. Several companies dropping Tiger which takes money out of his pocket. The clean-cut, hardest working golfer went from trusted product pitchman to comic fodder for the late night shows in record time.
It remains to be seen if he will lose his family permanently, but he has absolutely lost their trust for now.
What should a leader do when he makes a huge blunder?
- Admit it frankly. Don’t dance around it or lie. Don’t try to cover your tracks. The only thing worse than having weak character is being known as someone with weak character who is a black-belt liar.
- Admit it without excuse. Don’t do that weak “I’m-only-human” thing. Blame yourself, not your slump, your state of mind, the pressure on you. YOU made a very BAD CHOICE. Period.
- Acknowledge the consequences. Show that you understand how what you did caused problems for others. No one wants to hear “I let myself down.” Who cares? It was your behavior that caused the problem, so don’t expect pity because you hurt yourself. Acknowledge that you hurt others.
- Apologize. There’s a difference between apologizing and asking for and receiving forgiveness. Tiger needs to apologize to his sponsors at the very least. Sponsors trusted his clean-cut image to endorse their products, and Tiger’s behavior put their products in a negative light… and it cost them money. As for asking forgiveness, that is something he needs to seek from his family, not us.
My prediction. Tiger will rebound quickly and, like Zeus, he will use the same strength that has taken him to the top to recover from this personal failure with superhuman speed.