Ethics Revival or Guilt by Association – the Joe Paterno Case
The news services are all on fire talking about the Joe Paterno firing at Penn State. So what is going on?
I was raised on the basic assumption of you are innocent until proven guilty. Yet, today it appears you are guilty – by association – without any trial or final judgement. And, taking it even further, it appears that the press and social media are the judge and jury.
Is this fair? Personally I don’t believe it is fair in any shape, form or substance. Others values are being thrown on to a public mess just like gasoline on a fire.
The damage to an individual’s entire career is now done. Was it done to save face? Was it done just to assign blame? Was it done to cover up other’s actions or inactions? At this point in time, we will may never know.
So why am I writing about this topic in a business article?
Because I want you to think about how this could and can happen to any one including corporate leaders. The power of the press (negative press) and the out pouring of social media coupled with a group of power people with absolutist points of view can destroy you over night.
Therefore, it is important to understand reputation management or in some cases image management for leaders. Couple this with a total understanding of the power of social media and you will need to think in terms of strategy about your image and reputation.
Another major factor to understand is the press is no longer an objective news source. The reality is the press is totally committed to sensationalism and negative news. If you are having difficulty believing this – watch the news for one day or one week. Everything reported is basically negative. Why? Because the general public today cannot think on their own and find the sound bite driven news as a source for their information – right or wrong.
Okay, let’s be straight on one thing – if the allegations are true about the former coach and the young children – then this is just plain bad. It should never have happened – again assuming it did happen. To date there has been no trial or true verdict other than people reacting with some personal agenda.
My one thought about Joe Paterno is a football coach and while he should have followed up after reporting a rumor TO A HIGHER LEVEL PERSON – this error in judgement alone should not cost him his career. Yet, times have changed and apparently you are guilty by association or assignment of blame.
As an executive, you need to be aware this could happen to you. Are you prepared to handle different situations with honesty and positive action? Do you have a strategy for public relations activity to counter public attacks upon your character.
I believe you must be prepared to handle any negative situation. Create a plan today for yourself.