“Failure of Leadership”

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Effects of the Penn State University sexual abuse scandal are still being felt several months later. Today brought on the latest development in the case, as school trustees issued a statement justifying their removal of iconic head coach Joe Paterno. What caught my attention, however, was the reason that was cited:

“Failure of leadership” 

Paterno, who had been coaching at the school for 61 years, was fired in the wake of the scandal in which a former team assistant is accused of molesting 10 teenage boys. The report issued today cites trustees saying they  “determined that his [Paterno] decision to do his minimum legal duty and not to do more to follow up constituted a failure of leadership by Coach Paterno.”

The questions that I have:

  • When is doing just enough in a situation not enough?
  • What constitutes a “failure of leadership” …. is it only limited to when people get hurt?
  • Is one mistake enough to destroy the reputation of a well-respected leader?
source: http://scm-l3.technorati.com/12/01/22/60529/joe-paterno.jpeg?t=20120122100836


3 Comments on ““Failure of Leadership””

  1. Beatty

    I like this post because it hits it right on the nose. This is a situational thing. There are times when doing just enough is enough, but when someone gets hurt or abused, doing the bare minimum isn’t enough. JoePa is an icon…and one part of being an icon is you have to continue to be that icon in name and action. JoePa could have ended this whole thing by calling the police. Hell, the grad assistant at the time could have ended this whole thing by CALLING THE POLICE.

    JoePa was the leader. And it ultimately reflects on him. That’s the double-edged sword. You are in charge as the leader, and you reap the success. But when it all falls down, it’s also your fault. The Penn State football staff and the university failed here. And so did JoePa. It was the only way. Paterno had to be fired.

  2. Wow… what a great find. Of all the rustle and bustle over this story, I can’t believe I never heard that his removal was cited as failure to lead.

    Eric’s second paragraph also brings up a good point by calling leadership a sort of double edged sword, especially in situations like these.

    In regards to your questions:

    1. When is doing just enough in a situation not enough?
    -This is a hard question because I would consider doing “just enough” along the line of half-assing (as I like to call it) something. I’d be lying if I told you I haven’t half-assed an assignment for classes in the past, but I’m not very familiar with the term. I actually don’t think JoePa was used to doing just enough; he wouldn’t have become such a great leader that way. However, it seems this time it bit him… don’t half-ass things you care about.

    2. What constitutes a “failure of leadership.” Is it only limited to when people get hurt?
    -I think the answer is that when you fail to lead someone inevitably gets hurt. I don’t feel there’s a time when a failure of leadership would not hurt someone… so I believe these two go hand and hand as opposed to only relating.

    3. Is one mistake enough to destroy the reputation of a well-respected leader?
    -Yes. There are some margins depending on your social stature and your crime. If you’re Lebron James or Tiger Woods and you apologize, apparently you still win on. If you’re Anthony Weiner or Herman Cain… well, consider yourself toast.

  3. I just saw THE IRON LADY here in Zagreb. Pondering Failure of Leadership is so evident in so many scenes in that movie.

    As for sports a fascinating contrast in Tiger Woods vrs Joe P. One clearly managed for the media — and the sense I get about Paterno is it was not.

    Stories-news–missives have a way of taking on a life of their own.

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