Think of the People First

Johanna Rothman tackles the Paterno/Sandusky scandal and notes that the truth has a way of always coming out. Will you still have your integrity when the truth emerges?

I’m not a rabid football fan. I enjoy the game, but I can happily breeze through the fall without realizing which teams are where in the standings. And, when it comes to the college teams, I have no clue.

So, when the whole Paterno/Sandusky scandal broke, I first thought, “Oh, Joe Paterno was supposed to be such a great football coach. Surely, he put his players first, and the game second.”

Apparently not. The money must have been too much. Maybe not even for him personally. But for what it could do for the school and the football program. As soon as Paterno allowed Sandusky to continue working for him, knowing that he was a sexual predator, Paterno lost his integrity.

Any manager must think of the people first. It doesn’t matter how much money is at stake. Are you releasing software that doesn’t work? Or laying off people because of other bad management decisions? Or taking on technical debt because you rushed product to release before it was ready? The truth will always come out. Will you still have your integrity when the truth emerges?

If you don’t have your integrity, what do you have?

So, if you are a manager in a sticky situation, remember this. Think of the people who depend on you first. What do you have to do, to hold your head high and remember the people who are counting on you. What will your legacy be?

About the author

Johanna Rothman's picture Johanna Rothman

Johanna Rothman, known as the “Pragmatic Manager,” helps organizational leaders see problems and risks in their product development. She helps them recognize potential “gotchas,” seize opportunities, and remove impediments. Johanna was the Agile 2009 conference chair. She is the technical editor for Agile Connection and the author of these books:

  • Manage Your Job Search
  • Hiring Geeks That Fit
  • Manage Your Project Portfolio: Increase Your Capacity and Finish More Projects
  • The 2008 Jolt Productivity award-winning Manage It! Your Guide to Modern, Pragmatic Project Management
  • Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management
  • Hiring the Best Knowledge Workers, Techies & Nerds: The Secrets and Science of Hiring Technical People

Johanna is working on a book about agile program management. She writes columns for and projectmanagementcom and blogs on her website,, as well on

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