In light of the Penn State situation surrounding a former assistant football coach, I thought I’d focus on a couple of leadership traits, integrity and courage, that I believe are extremely important…and ones that seemed lacking in several people associated with the situation at Penn State. All are presumed innocent until proven guilty, so I’m not even going to get into that. I want to focus on what leaders should do in all situations.
Integrity is basically honesty. It’s doing what you say you will do. Without honesty, there is no trust. And if there is no trust, people will not follow you. Integrity is doing what’s right even if it’s not popular. And there is no situation that is so sacred that you should turn a blind eye. Do what’s right.
The other trait that seems to be lacking in many these days is courage, which goes along with integrity. Courage means accepting responsibility and facing the challenges that are presented to you. If leaders at Penn State would have demonstrated integrity and courage, maybe some of the alleged incidents would have been stopped or prevented. Instead, leaders did nothing and allowed a horrible situation to get worse.
As a leader, you are not expected to be perfect, but you are expected to do the right things, even if they are unpopular. Whether it’s Penn State, Enron, the Catholic Church, Syracuse, etc. bad situations could have been avoided or the impact lessened if only the leaders would have had the integrity and courage to step up and do what’s right.