Tiger Wood’s Brilliant Mea Culpa

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Tiger Woods statement to the press was the right thing to do and he did it well. Compare his comments to other political and business leaders who give their obligatory mea culpas. The contrast is stunning. And there are lessons in what he wrote and how he delivered his message that leaders should take to heart.

He took complete responsibility for his actions. He didn’t say “mistakes were made” as many do, as if some grand anonymous force out there had made him sleep around.

He didn’t try to parse his way out of it as in “I never had sex with that woman.” He didn’t blame others, except for his brief tongue lashing of the paparazzi (and who could blame his for that?). He didn’t wreck a perfectly clear apology with endless paragraphs of gibberish. (I think leaders use this tactic to try to bore their audiences into forgiveness.) But what he did was to continually remind us that he was responsible.

This won’t put it all behind him, and he obviously knows that, but it could be a significant turning point in rebuilding the public’s trust in him as a role model. If he were a political or business leader, I might have advised him to have said what he said months ago. But he’s not running a company or a country, so his timing was perfect.