WHO AM I TO TELL others what ethical leadership is? Anyone claiming to write a book about ethical leadership can come across as presumptuous, even sanctimonious. All the more so if that author happens to be someone who was quite memorably and publicly fired from his last job.
I understand the impulse to think that any book written about one's life experience can be an exercise in vanity, which is why I long resisted the idea of writing a book of my own. But I changed my mind for an important reason. We are experiencing a dangerous time in our country, with a political environment where basic facts are disputed, fundamental truth is questioned, lying is normalized, and unethical behavior is ignored, excused, or rewarded. This is not just happening in our nation's capital, and not just in the United States. It is a troubling trend that has touched institutions across America and around the world - boardrooms of major companies, newsrooms, university campuses, the entertainment industry, and professional and Olympic sports.
For some of the crooks, liars, and abusers, there has been a reckoning. For others, there remain excuses, justifications, and a stubborn willingness by those around them to look the other way or even enable the bad behavior.
James Comey, A Higher Loyalty - Truth, Lies, and Leadership
We are experiencing a dangerous time in our country, with a political environment where basic facts are disputed, fundamental truth is questioned, lying is normalized, and unethical behavior is ignored, excused, or rewarded.
"We are experiencing a dangerous time in our country, with a political environment where basic facts are disputed, fundamental truth is questioned, lying is normalized, and unethical behavior is ignored, excused, or rewarded. "
Of course he's right. But no political party, ideology, or news station can address the truth bc they are steeped in what they do for what benefits them, and all the while they are the problem.
The standards are disappearing. You can't even get unbiased news reports on basic news. It's politically incorrect to hold anyone accountable bc that "judging", and is uncomfortable. Fortunately God set things up so that actions have consequences, for everyone. And that will always be at play, even when our laws fail.
Comey's book is about his personal experiences as a lawyer and leader in the government sector for over 25 years. It seems the appropriate time to continue the thread:
"Ethical leadership is also about understanding the truth about humans and our need for meaning. It is about building workplaces where standards are high and fear is low. Those are the kinds of cultures where people will feel comfortable speaking the truth to others as they seek excellence in themselves and the people around them.
Without a fundamental commitment to the truth-especially in our public institutions and those who lead them-we are lost. As a legal principle, if people don't tell the truth, our justice system cannot function and a society based on the rule of law begins to dissolve. As a leadership principle, if leaders don't tell the truth, or won't hear the truth from others, they cannot make good decisions, they cannot themselves improve, and they cannot inspire trust among those who follow them."
The criticism of Comey by the recent IG report is considered properly investigated by Comey. His accounts in the book very closely match the findings in the report.
IMO, this is an honest man accurately reporting his experience.
If you have no interest in the book, I encourage you to skip this thread.
"I spent a lot of time thinking about the title of this book. In one sense, it came out of a bizarre dinner meeting at the White House, where a new president of the United States demanded my loyalty-to him, personally-over my duties as FBI director to the American people. But in another, deeper sense, the title is the culmination of four decades in law, as a federal prosecutor, business lawyer, and working closely with three U.S. presidents.
In all those jobs, I learned from those around me and tried to pass on to those I worked with that there is a higher loyalty in all of our lives-not to a person, not to a party, not to a group. The higher loyalty is to lasting values, most important the truth. I hope this book is useful in stimulating all of us to think about the values that sustain us, and to search for leadership that embodies those values."
Comey comments on his love for testifying before congress:
THERE ARE TEN BLOCKS between FBI headquarters and Capitol Hill, and each of them is fixed in my memory from countless shuttle missions up and down Pennsylvania Avenue. Riding past the National Archives, where tourists were lined up to see America's documents, the Newseum, with the words of the First Amendment carved into its stone front, and the T-shirt vendors and food trucks had become something of a ritual.
It was February 2017, and I was in the back row of a fully armored black FBI Suburban. The middle row of seats had been removed, so I sat in one of the two seats in the back. I had gotten used to watching the world pass by through the small dark bulletproof side windows. I was on the way to yet another classified congressional briefing on the 2016 Russian election interference.
Appearing in front of members of Congress was difficult on a good day, and usually disheartening. Nearly everyone appeared to take a side and seemed to listen only to find the nuggets that fit their desired spin. They would argue with each other through you: "Mr. Director, if someone said X, wouldn't that person be an idiot?" And the reply would come through you as well: "Mr. Director, if someone said that someone who said X was an idiot, wouldn't that person be the real idiot?"
As Assistant U.S. Attorney for New York, Comey prosecuted the Mafia. He outlines the rules of the road in Mafia families:
"The Life of Lies. The silent circle of assent. The boss in complete control. Loyalty oaths. An us-versus-them worldview. Lying about things, large and small, in service to some warped code of loyalty. These rules and standards were hallmarks of the Mafia, but throughout my career I'd be surprised how often I'd find them applied outside of it."
This guy's tarnished the FBI's reputation to the extent it will take years to recoup and you still lend credibility to his book? The title alone is preposterous in light of the way he's handled his authority and responsibilities at the FBI. The IG's report blasted him for insubordination, dereliction and bias, among other charges.
Comey spends much verbiage describing an armed break-in at his house when he was a kid. No single paragraph or two adequately describe his terror. These are the last of the words:
My encounter with the Ramsey Rapist brought me years of pain. I thought about him every night for at least five years-not most nights, every night-and I slept with a knife at hand for far longer. I couldn't see it at the time, but the terrifying experience was, in its own way, also an incredible gift. Believing-knowing, in my mind-that I was going to die, and then surviving, made life seem like a precious, delicate miracle. As a high school senior, I started watching sunsets, looking at buds on trees, and noticing the beauty of our world. That feeling lasts to this day, though sometimes it expresses itself in ways that might seem corny to people who fortunately never had the experience of measuring their time on this earth in seconds.
The Ramsey Rapist taught me at an early age that many of the things we think are valuable have no value. Whenever I speak to young people, I suggest they do something that might seem a little odd: Close your eyes, I say. Sit there, and imagine you are at the end of your life. From that vantage point, the smoke of striving for recognition and wealth is cleared.
Houses, cars, awards on the wall? Who cares? You are about to die. Who do you want to have been? I tell them that I hope some of them decide to have been people who used their abilities to help those who needed it-the weak, the struggling, the frightened, the bullied. Standing for something. Making a difference. That is true wealth.
Comey comments on the influence of his second William and Mary major:
"The religion department introduced me to the philosopher and theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, whose work resonated with me deeply. Niebuhr saw the evil in the world, understood that human limitations make it impossible for any of us to really love another as ourselves, but still painted a compelling picture of our obligation to try to seek justice in a flawed world.
He never heard country music artist Billy Currington sing, "God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy," but he would have appreciated the lyric and, although it wouldn't make the song a hit, he probably would have added, "And you still must try to achieve a measure of justice in our imperfect world." And justice, Niebuhr believed, could be best sought through the instruments of government power.
Slowly it dawned on me that I wasn't going to be a doctor after all. Lawyers participate much more directly in the search for justice. That route, I thought, might be the best way to make a difference."