Today, FBI director James Comey announced that he is recommending that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton not be prosecuted for her actions relating to the years' old personal email server scandal. This despite the fact that "there is clear evidence that they [Ms. Clinton and her staff] were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information". (It's important to note that in this situation, intent to break the law is not required—simply acting with "gross negligence" is enough.) His bottom line? "No reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case". (Forget the fact that the only "reasonable prosecutor" in this situation is the politically-appointed attorney general.)
However, he went on to say, "To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now".
It might just be me, but maybe reasonableness, common sense AND integrity have all permanently left the building.
In an extreme effort to not take a political position on this highly politically-charged topic, I would simply say in response to the facts outlined in Mr. Comey's statements: "Huh?" What he is basically saying is, "if it were anyone else, they'd be prosecuted, but given the person, we're going to look the other way." James Taranto of the WSJ said in response, "He detailed its findings, which are damning, and in many cases new, and which prove that most of Mrs. Clinton's public statements about her private email servers were lies."
Without reverting to Sunday school platitudes, this is just plain wrong, and it sends the wrong message to all current and future leaders. Based on my interpretation of the facts, neither Ms. Clinton nor Mr. Comey have displayed real integrity and both are leaders who have chosen do the wrong thing — because it was inconvenient to do the right thing. Our current political leaders could learn a thing or two from PGA tour professionals, who consistently call infractions upon themselves, even when no one is looking or would have known, and when it potentially costs them hundreds of thousands of dollars. Integrity matters.
Good leaders, be they political, business or family need to be held to a higher standard. Good leaders take the high road, even when it's not convenient. Good leaders know that to be trusted with big things, we need to prove we can be trusted with small things. Integrity in the work place is critical. And not just leader to people under their responsibility and authority. Integrity matters to everyone - peer to peer, subordinate to supervisor, parent to child, child to parent, spouse to spouse.
Integrity is not optional . It can't be turned on when it's beneficial to us to do so. Behavior is consistent. You either have integrity or you don't. We must consistently exhibit integrity to others and demand it from them. Without it, we as families, business, and societies will crumble.
Bottom Line: If you want to be a good leader - have integrity - no matter what it might cost you.
And, as much as I've tried to walk the careful line of not being political, I'm sure others will disagree with both my interpretation of this situation and my conclusions. So be it. I'd love to hear from you in either case!
Steve is a husband, father, and business exec. He loves anything outdoors, anything that is a hard challenge, and enjoys working with anyone who wants to continually improve. And golf. He loves golf. Steve is the founder and CEO of Executive Advisory Partners.