Two Kinds of People Who Could’ve Saved Joe Paterno

Like you, I’ve “OD’d ” over the news of the fall of Joe Paterno and the scandal of Penn State. I’ve been thinking of how this can happen in a place celebrated for its commitment to character, honor, and pride.

So I wondered if there are two kinds of people missing among the leadership; not only in the athletic department (football), but the University itself.  These people I call the dissenters and the disrupters.

Anyone in leadership knows that the longer you lead at one place, the more success you have, the more your organization and movement drifts into group-think which is basically the phenomenon where the leader is protected from all dissension or those who won’t get in lock-step.

Where are the dissenters and the disrupters at Penn State?  Where are those who have the courage to stand up and say “No, we can’t hide the truth to protect the greater good of the football program.”?  Or the disrupters who say, “While what we’ve done in the past has worked, maybe we need an overhaul for the future.”?

I do know this.  Group-think and the “good ol’ boy” system, protect-your-back-at-all-costs, doesn’t serve anyone in the long run.  The truth is, what we need is transparency.  And the only way to have that in every movement is to have those who have the courage to speak up and tell the truth, and are willing to interject new ideas that can replace the old ones.

As you think about the tragedy of sexual child abuse at such a highly-esteemed university as Penn State, ask yourself this question:  “Do I have people around me who can tell me the truth, who can say ‘no’ and make it stick?” If not, all of us could end up falling big-time.

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