By Will Lukang, PMP, CSM, CLDC
On November 6th, the news of sex abuse scandal at Penn State caught my attention. My initial thought was that this could not possibly happen. As I watched the news and read the news on the Internet, I was surprised to learn that it involved a former defensive coordinator and one-time heir apparent Jerry Sandusky.
I did not know quite what to think of what I read and watched. I have known Joe Paterno, who is an icon and a legendary leader at Penn State, and things like these shouldn’t happen. Mr. Paterno is the most revered coach even outside of NCAA football.
The magnitude of the issue is significant as Jerry Sandusky is charged with sexually abusing eight boys over 15 years. Sexual abuse is one of those things that can send shivers down someone’s spine. As I read on, I was left thinking how can this be possible? How could Mr. Paterno let this happen under his watch? From my personal perspective, when there is a slight doubt of sexual abuse, it needs to be reported. Such issues cannot be taken lightly.
This whole incident left me to question Mr. Paterno’s leadership ability. As a leader, the buck stopped with you. While it is up to you to protect your team, you have a social responsibility to ensure things like sexual abuse is not taken lightly. A leader will address this head on and will not waste any time. What makes matters worse is that two of his assistants who witnessed it did not report the incident and that is totally unacceptable. If Jerry is proven guilty, Mr. Paterno’s lack of action is worse than betting on his game, giving money to his player or any other violation you can possibly think of.
I wonder where are the leaders when you need them. Please step up! According to news, Mr. Paterno is not a target of the investigation, but that’s not the point. As the leader, you cannot let issues like this get by without any action. Leaders are known for their honesty, integrity and ability to act on issues and make decision. In my perspective, I question what happen and why did was not addressed.
Unfortunately, the victims paid the price for his inaction. They suffered years of abuse and continue to live the nightmare. With this incident, I doubt I’ll look at Mr. Paterno the same way. His legacy as a leader will never be the same. The next time you see a leader, be it in the workplace or recreational activities, ask yourself the question, would this person do the right thing? Or, would he/she willing to settle? Because I believe that the “REAL” leader will step up and address the issue head on.