America has a President and associates who are unraveling our democracy’s pillars and dismantling long standing leadership, ethics, morals, values and principles—living on the dark side of the law. Quality leadership is an earned, trust based, influence relationship between the leader, other leaders and followers who intend ethical and moral changes that mirror common purpose. Today’s chaos and confusion are certainly indicative of no leadership, an antidemocratic, undisciplined President and deepening political warfare that shine light on political gain in lieu of ethical-moral responsibility. James Comey, former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, captures the reality of today’s America quite well:

Donald Trump’s presidency threatens much of what is good in this nation…this president is unethical, and untethered to truth and institutional values…transactional, ego driven, and about personal loyalty…Whatever your politics, it is wrong to dismiss the damage to the norms and traditions that have guided the presidency and our public life for decades or, in many cases, since the republic was founded…Policies come and go. Supreme Court justices come and go. But the core of our nation is our commitment to a set of shared values that began with George Washington—to restraint and integrity and balance and transparency and truth…Thoughtful people are staring at the vicious partisanship that has grown all around us. Far from creating a new norm where lying is widely accepted, the Trump presidency has ignited a focus on truth and ethics. Parents are talking to their children about truth-telling, about respect for all people, about rejecting prejudice and hate. Schools and religious institutions are talking about values-driven leadership…The next president, no matter the party, will surely emphasize values—truth, integrity, respect, and tolerance—in ways an American leader hasn’t needed to for more than forty years. The fire will make something good grow…I wrote this book because I hope it will be useful to people living among the flames who are thinking about what comes next. I also hope it will be useful to readers long after the flames are doused, by inspiring them to choose a higher loyalty, to find truth among lies, and to pursue ethical leadership.

Leaders and leadership uncover goodness and practice goodness; and the art of goodness includes being truthful, authentic, caring and courageous that constitute integrity: coupling intentions, promises and commitments with actions. Quite simply: walk the talk and model the way as a person, in relations and when helping and supporting others. A mutual challenge is to frequently chat with the kids, the grandkids, friends, loved ones, teachers and religious and spiritual leaders about the crying demand for growing and nurturing quality leadership, ethics and morals. As Tolsty reminds, “…it’s impossible to describe a man (woman), but it is possible to describe the effect he (she) has on me.” Coupling that with the wisdom of Shinichi Suzuki, “Living is dying…try to die well,” leaves us with a wise formula. Yes! Joy will transcend the fear, anger and sadness of life and of living.

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