Lessons From Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford

November 14, 2013

Career, Mayor Rob Ford, Politics, Toronto

Rob FordToronto’s Mayor Rob Ford has made global headlines since the police announced they have a video of him smoking  “what appears to be a crack pipe”,  and the Mayor himself later admitting to smoking crack cocaine.

There’s a few lessons we can take away from the Mayor’s public struggles. Although his actions are the main problem, his struggles are made worse by how he handles situations when confronted with the issues.

How you phrase things matters

When asked if he smoked crack, Rob Ford replied, that yes he had, “probably in one of my drunken stupors.” #inoneofmydrunkenstupors was trending on Twitter for days. The line was repeated on every news broadcast and comedy show. His choice of words compounded the issue. Now he was saying that not only does he smoke crack, but that he also has ‘drunken stupors’.

In a workplace, be careful how you say things. Taking greater care of how a message is delivered can have a huge effect on how others react to it.

Taking responsibility for mistakes is good

It would have been better if Mayor Ford said, “Yes, I have tried crack cocaine. It was on a night when I had too much to drink, and that led to my making a very poor choice that I deeply regret. I apologize to anyone who is let down by this, and I have entered into an alcohol addiction program to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.”

With that choice of words he would not only owned up to his mistakes, but he would also have apologized, and detailed an action plan for ensuring that it would not be repeated. That is what people want to hear.

Learn from the mistake, and fix the problem

Sometimes we all make mistakes at work and they don’t have to be career-ending – I’m not talking about mistakes as severe as Mayor Ford’s or mistakes that break the law. The key is to learn from mistakes, be up front in taking responsibility for the things we get wrong, and implementing changes to ensure that the same mistakes aren’t made twice.

That kind of honesty actually builds trust in the workplace. Denials and half-truths just tend to spiral out of control and end up making things worse. ^


Canada’s largest online job site, Workopolis polled users after the mayor’s admittance asking them if the news stories were having an impact on workplace productivity, 64% of people said yes, because “nobody is talking about anything else.”


Adapted by John Zeus from original source: Workopolis: Career Lessons From Rob Ford – Part II – Peter Harris

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John Zeus

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