I am no expert on the virtues or dangers of smoking crack cocaine. Urban legends include stories about people catching on fire when using it and worse. I am also not an expert in addictive or destructive behavior, nor Canadian politics.
But I would make a wild guess that it could be tough to govern and make big decisions after a wild night of the Rob Ford antics I’ve seen on YouTube. As an observer of what is going on in the world and what we can learn from leaders, both good and bad, there are some poignant teachable moments from Rob.
In fact, Toronto Mayor Ford has proven to be a well that never runs dry when it comes to leadership lessons. Forget the admission of being in a “drunken stupor” when he does stupid things. Forget all of the comic drama that seems to be captured daily on video. (Rob Ford is a bonanza for YouTube and its advertisers.) Forget his threats and bullying techniques.
What I don’t understand about leaders like our Mr. Mayor is his inability to understand that he will get caught and when he does get caught, there will be consequences. Especially when there is someone in the room with a video cam.
The world needs more characters and Rob Ford is a “character” for sure. But he is living dangerously both personally and as a leader. What can we learn from him as a leader? Here are a few tidbits:
- If all the late night talk show hosts include you in their monologues, your days as a respected leader may be waning. (Ask Anthony Weiner.)
- If videos of you as a leader go viral on YouTube, something very good or very bad may be about to happen to you as a leader.
- If there are offers to create a reality television show about your life, change careers from leader to reality star (even if only for a day).
- If there are debates about your appropriate use of language about body parts, especially female body parts, you are using language not suited for a leader.
- When rules preclude you from being fired, there are other ways the organization can make you powerless.
- Even if your size is XXL, leaders wear clothes that fit.
- Certain acts or behaviors are so egregious and so well known that a career well never recover. Ever.
- And the eternal maxim for leaders: Whatever you do, you will get caught.
I hope the Toronto Mayor sticks around for a while. He is a font of leadership lessons for writers like me.