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Ed O'Malley

Ed O'Malley

A former state legislator and gubernatorial aide, Ed O’Malley is President and CEO of the Kansas Leadership Center, a first-of-its-kind training center charged with fostering large-scale civic leadership for healthier communities. He tweets at eomalley.

Protecting Tiger, Inc.

It is difficult to draw any leadership lessons from the Tiger Woods saga. His claim of trying to protect his family from the recent media onslaught may sound noble, but in light of his total disregard for his family, as evidenced by his affairs, a more appropriate interpretation may be he is trying to protect Tiger, Inc.

How Tiger Woods has reacted to the media swarm, much like his golf career, has nothing to do with leadership. He is a young, rich and famous golfer. Leadership is about mobilizing people to accomplish difficult work. Playing golf really well and making millions from it has nothing to do with leadership.

The real leadership lessons in this saga may have more to do with us than with Tiger. Why would we even make a Tiger Woods/leadership connection? Why do we look to super-sized celebrities for leadership? Leadership must come from many individuals, not just the most talented at a particular skill.

We admire Tiger Woods for his athletic performance, but conflating his performance with expectations of leadership is a huge blunder. What would that imply about leadership and celebrity? It's like a youth-sports team electing its best player the captain or a school electing the prettiest girl the student body president, whether or not the youngsters have any leadership ability at all.

Why do we even care about his personal life? Perhaps it's because we have, inappropriately, placed too high of expectations on Tiger Woods to be a role model or to exercise leadership. What do we really know about him anyway that would lead to those expectations? He is a great golfer and now it appears the world knows he is not a great husband and father. Have we seen him exercise leadership before? Have we seen him put others' interests above his own? I applaud Tiger Woods golfing ability. If you need advice on golf or Nike sponsorships, Tiger is your man. Based on what we really know about him, looking to Tiger Woods for anything else is foolish.

Cash cow for golf? Yes. CEO of Golf? Thankfully, no. Ah, but what about Tiger Woods as a role model for our kids? Remember what Charles Barkley said about role models? I'm with him.

By Ed O'Malley

 |  December 8, 2009; 1:36 PM ET
Category:  Making mistakes Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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i heartily agree.i struggle to connect fame/stardom with leadership. thanks for articulating it.

Posted by: rachelle2 | December 9, 2009 11:20 AM
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heartily agree. i struggle to connect leadership with stardom/fame. thx for articulating it.

Posted by: rachelle2 | December 9, 2009 11:18 AM
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He's a golf pro. Not a Catholic priest (oops...), teacher or any other sort of spiritual coyote...

If he was the best damned motorcycle mechanic/customizer painter/tattoo artist, nobody would bat an eye...

Let's lay off Mr. Woods and let him live his life and then show us a great golf game, OK media (you bunch of cub-tabloid writers)?

Posted by: 4Jaxon | December 8, 2009 5:12 PM
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Thoughtful piece. I have for over 10 years been making the related point that great golfer does not equate to great human being.

However, I can't even count how many leaders at powerful firms and companies in New York I know who have, over that same period, argued most emphatically back to me that the two absolutely do equate.

I'm afraid that Kool-Aid drinking is not limited to poor misguided cultists in Guyana. It is just as popular in the boardrooms and executive suites of America.

Posted by: Itzajob | December 8, 2009 3:58 PM
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I think,it's not entirely the fault of Tiger(even though he's married),these girls or cheap girls knew very well that he 's married,but he's Tiger Woods,he's loaded with dough's..and now they are hanging their filthy laundry outside..why??
because they thought maybe Tiger would give them millions to keep their mouth shut..These are cheap hotsy potatoes girls,remember,I think Tiger should do whatever he wants to do w/his life and his family..to hell with these lowlives for crying out loud....

Posted by: gracie-mansion | December 8, 2009 3:57 PM
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