Or Winning Takes Care of NOTHING Without Ethics
This week I’m going to keep it simple. Nike and Tiger Woods are appalling. It’s hard to know which is worse, although given that presumably Nike controls its advertising, the buck stops there. By now the ad “winning takes care of everything” (published immediately after regaining his position as “world number 1” following a win at Arnold Palmer Invitational) has been all over the press and social media. What does this have to do with ethics? Everything. In short, a “winning fixes all” attitude defined Lance Armstrong, the Libor banks, Lehman Brothers, Silvio Berlusconi…
I do not in any way intend to minimize the accomplishment of making a comeback, whether athletes, bankers, or wayward teenagers. We all have a lot to learn from acknowledging mistakes, seeking the help necessary to remedy them, trying to make right vis a vis those we have hurt, and regaining lost ground in our lives and careers. But this is no comeback. This is no reminder that unethical behaviour requires on-going vigilance and that the consequences are not erasable with a win. This is no acknowledgement that it wasn’t about the golf, so the golf can’t “take care of it.” I highly doubt that Tiger Wood’s fans (or wife) believe this last win took care of everything. Rather, this is a highly unethical and disrespectful message that the unethical behavior and the ensuing hurt didn’t matter in the end. Above all, it is a horrendous message to our children to “win at all costs” and drop responsibility for past harm.
For the real shock, compare to the bankers – not the bastion of respect for many of my readers but by comparison in the remedy process a model of integrity. At least they are reinforcing standards, sending messages of “integrity before profits,” and recognizing that there is no winning unless, as Barclays says, they win the right way. They are demonstrating an understanding that remedies are multi-dimensional, take time, and require real commitment. Comebacks are not erasers, even when done right.
For a guy with kids, this is appalling. For our own kids, this is appalling. For golfers, this is appalling. For everyone, this is appalling.
Copyright 2013 Susan Liautaud & Associates Limited. All rights reserved.