ON THE TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS July 30, 2012 # 395 Coming up next…Being on a Pedestal !
After further review…”The trouble with putting people on a pedestal”, someone once told me, “is there’s not much room to move around”. And people like to have room to move around. Webster defines “to put on a pedestal” as “to glorify; idealize”. Most of those elevated to pedestal status are not seeking adulation, but accept it with humility. Please understand; granting an honor or recognizing one’s achievement is perfectly acceptable.
Unfortunately, we have seen too many leaders who have ascended to the top, then forgot that what got them there was their T*E*A*M. Leading by recognizing others is an essential part of leadership. Some who become leaders become powerful, then sit atop that pedestal and shut others out. Most become leaders because of what they know, and too often forget the art of listening. It may be that they don’t forget to listen, but choose not to for self-serving ends. It’s a paradox of power.
This may have been the case with former and now-deceased Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, whom I admired for many decades. It’s common in corporate America as well. The HBO film “Too Big To Fail” provides such an example. In Paterno’s case, it is obvious he overestimated the importance of his renowned football program compared to the child protection issues taking place around him. JoPa’s statement of “I should have done more” came too late.
A different figure dropped from his pedestal in Columbus, Ohio when Ohio State University’s football Coach Jim Tressel, aware of misconduct on the part of his players, put winning ahead of integrity. He was fired, as was Paterno. But OSU president E. Gordon Gee tried to resurrect Tressel on that pedestal when he said “I’m just hopeful the coach doesn’t fire me”. President Gee then resigned.
When college football coaches’ salaries far exceed those of college presidents, which we find on many campuses today, we have lost the value of our higher educational system. The funds generated by football do support many programs and services that would otherwise go vacant. Yet, when those in charge overshadow the real essence of their educational institutions with their power, often called executive bullying, someone has to step-up. The NCAA did.
Will you treat your leadership position as a privilege not a right?