The statue is gone, Joe Paterno has passed away, Sandusky is facing a lifetime behind bars, and the victims of this terrible, terrible tragedy hopefully will find peace and comfort knowing that what was once an ugly secret has now been brought to light. I think it is safe to say that there are no true winners or losers in the sexual immorality scandal that has been exposed at Penn State. There are no clear-cut answers and there are no clear-cut solutions to truly remove the blemish that has been left on the face of Penn State athletics. When I read about situations as complex and as severe as this one, I always take time to reflect on how it relates to my own leadership style and experiences in my life. These are some of the statements that I’ve been pondering:
1. What happens in the dark eventually comes to light.
2. Regardless of how well it’s put together, a house built on lies will eventually fall.
3. Someone you trusts, trusts someone you would never trust.
4. Loyalty can be blinding.
5. The more you know, the less you can ignore.
6. When handling a controversy, make a decision based off of principles and not emotions.
7. Open rebuke is better than secret love (Prov. 27:5)
8. People will always find someone else to blame to get the attention off of their own participation.
9. Those who love you today, could shun you tomorrow.
10. What takes a lifetime for you to build, can be destroyed by one secret.
Penn State is a sobering reminder of the burden of responsibility that every leader faces, and if we really want to learn from this experience we will spend less time debating on who is to blame and judging those involved and spend more time reflecting on how we handle our own leadership challenges. Do you confront wrong or ignore it? Do you have anyone in your circle who tells you the truth regardless of how bad it hurts? Are you more interested in maintaining an image or maintaining integrity? Is there anything that you’ve swept under your own rug?
I’ve answered all of those questions the wrong way, and I am betting that many of you have too. I’m using Penn State as a personal leadership situational drill so if I am ever faced with a similar dilemna, I will be ready to put into play what I have studied in practice.
So, what have you learned from this experience and how will it shape you as a leader?