I’m a proud graduate of Syracuse University. At the time of this post, Syracuse’s long time assistant basketball coach, Bernie Fine, is embroiled in a sordid set of sexual abuse accusations. As an alum and a devoted fan of Syracuse basketball, it’s been a challenging few weeks. Like the community at Penn State, we’ve craved leadership, direction, clarity, and assurances.
So far this semester I’ve taken classes on Organizational Behavior and Human Resources. We’ve discussed the importance of leadership and effective communication. MBA students tend to have high aspirations and enthusiasm. After all, we all have ability, ambition, and bright futures ahead of us. We talk a lot about what makes people and organizations successful. However, in looking at how the respective institutions and coaches have handled these horrible tragedies, I believe that there is a necessary perspective for MBA students: what happens when things don’t go right? Will we be equipped as leaders to handle adversity? Will we be able to navigate uncharted waters?
As leaders we have a responsibility to be forthright and honest, particularly when problems abound. When it appears bleakest, whether it’s a scandal on campus or poor quarterly earnings, leaders must be transparent. Fans, shareholders, students, and colleagues require and deserve honest discourse about the past, but also a roadmap for the future.
As a future leader, will I have the fortitude to not only make difficult business decisions, but also to fulfill my civic responsibility to the people that will rely on me? While my experience at GW is far from over, I’ve already been provided with a unique lens for which to evaluate non-business related circumstances. Like all people, I hope that the Penn State and Syracuse situations are resolved justly, but these two examples have prompted me to reflect on what it means to be a leader and their responsibilities.