Tomorrow, Joe Paterno will coach his Penn State Nittany Lions against Southern California in the Rose Bowl. In case you don’t know, JoePa as he is known is 82 years old, has been coaching at Penn State for 59 seasons and has been the Head Coach since 1966.
He hold in numerous records and his teams consistently graduate at levels far above the NCAA averages. This post isn’t written for those reasons – at least not directly. More directly it is written because he recently, at age 82, accepted a three year contract extension.
Some have called for Coach Paterno to retire. Some have even said it is sad that the man doesn’t have any hobbies that would lead him to want to retire.
Though I have not met the Coach, I see things differently.
I see a man who became an assistant coach in 1950, thinking it was short term until he went to law school. That same man found his life calling as a coach and a leader.
Coach Paterno has created a situation where he can do what he loves, and still be successful at it.
The key is organizational leadership development. He has systematically built a successful leadership team, delegated tactfully, and his leadership team is loyal and stable – all a clear sign of his leadership influence.
So when you watch the Rose Bowl, or read about it in the paper, know that, win or lose, you are observing team leadership at the highest level – whether that leadership looks the same as it might on other teams or not.
After all, there aren’t many 82 year old football coaches!