My former boss, James Comey, is no showboat

How does one describe the impact someone like Comey had on the FBI? You start by doing something he would have shunned: highlighting his success. Like his predecessor, who faced and tackled challenges unique to his era, Comey took on growing problems within the organization in key areas such as leadership, agility and diversity. It might seem strange to call a respected leader a maniac, but Comey was nothing short of maniacal in driving change throughout the organization in order to right an off-axis leadership selection process, make the FBI more agile, and correct a major diversity problem.

Comey’s servant leadership principles were contagious and spread like wildfire throughout our organization. He purposefully populated our senior ranks with leaders who were kind but tough, confident yet humble. He cultivated a cadre of team-oriented field commanders who were not threatened by the notion that their subordinates might know more than they did.

Realizing he himself could never stop improving, he fought to ensure he would not get trapped in a bubble devoid of varying perspectives, or become comfortable with the trappings of power. He got his own lunch, placed his own calls, and had zero patience for ego or arrogance. Any of our 36,000 employees could email him directly and he would respond. His servant leadership style was reflected in those who surrounded him: senior staff who shared his passion for the rule of law; junior staff like myself who never once felt hesitant to speak up to challenge him with a differing point of view; and, as would prove his most important picks, an accomplished deputy director and senior executives who are now successfully navigating us through transformational waters.

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