There is no doubt that there were heinous crimes perpetrated — crimes that simply make me sick to my stomach. As we all know by now, Jerry Sandusky, the former assistant coach at Penn State to Joe Paterno, has been convicted of these heinous crimes and will never — EVER — know what freedom is again.
However, rather than focus on Sandusky and the horrible things he did, I think there are some valuable leadership lessons we can glean from Joe Paterno and his role in this situation.
1 – Be Honest
In any circumstance, but especially those in which the lives of young children are at stake, I think it is important to always tell the truth. As we have seen in this scandal, and many others like it, the children suffered immeasurably and nearly irreparably.
2 – Do the Right Thing
Unfortunately, for many, many years, Penn State Football was more important than doing the right thing. I can’t emphasize it enough — children suffered terribly — and that suffering was exposed much too late.
3 – Have No Regrets
I think “Joe Pa” said it best in his last press conference when he admitted, “This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.” As a leader, you don’t want to be in the position of wishing you had done more.
Leadership is a powerful tool and it wields great influence. As a result, it must be cherished, protected, and held in the highest of regards. Because, as we have seen in this scandal, and in many others, it can also be an instrument of pain, suffering, and destruction.
Be honest. Do the right thing. Have no regrets.