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From Penn State to Wall Street: A Leadership Crisis

Posted by Larry Doyle on July 13, 2012 10:35 AM |

I have a very empty feeling this morning.

As I try to collect my thoughts and put forth a reasoned commentary about developments on Wall Street and the impact on our global economy, my mind keeps reverting to the pain emanating from State College, Pennsylvania. My heart breaks for the individuals and families directly impacted by the tragic situation surrounding Penn State.

Who knows when the monster known as Jerry Sandusky first started to prey upon young innocent children? What we do know is that his crimes could have and should have been stopped long before other innocent victims were violated. Why and how did this happen?

A failure of real leadership. We now know that those charged with leading Penn State University were more concerned with appearances and the monetary value associated with those appearances than truly doing the right thing.

They will pay in spades — as well they should — for that egregious failure.

Can we say the same thing about developments on Wall Street? I think a very strong analogy can be made. Some may think I am overreaching with my comparison. I think not.

The children violated at Penn State relied upon leaders to speak up and say, “Hey, this is WRONG. This will not be tolerated and will be eradicated.” Too many children now suffer as a result of nobody making that stand.

How many children and families in our nation similarly suffer because of a lack of leadership within our financial industry and by extension our political capitol, as well? Far too much evidence has shown that individuals, firms, and institutions have been fixated upon appearances and the allure of monetary gains versus having the courage and character to do the right thing.

Real victory and success is always predicated on doing the right thing. The fixation on appearance and monetary gain at the expense of doing the right thing is both bad business policy and bad public policy. Yet it persists because of a lack of real character and leadership. Our current crisis may be deemed an economic crisis, but in truth it is a crisis of leadership.

Edmund Burke’s oft-quoted statement may be overly utilized but it rings true today in State College and on Wall Street. Our children are counting on us. Will we deliver or will we be reminded again and again in the coming years that, “All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.”

Our children are counting on us to be leaders. Will we lead?

Larry Doyle 

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I have no affiliation or business interest with any entity referenced in this commentary. The opinions expressed are my own. I am a proponent of real transparency within our markets so that investor confidence and investor protection can be achieved.

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