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John R. Ryan
Military/Administrative leader

John R. Ryan

John R. Ryan is president of the nonprofit Center for Creative Leadership, a top-ranked, global provider of executive education.

Clean Our Own House

Here's the biggest thing President-elect Obama can do about his Blagojevich problem: Learn from it. With four years of the presidency ahead of him, this isn't the last time Obama will find himself in close proximity to a corrupt leader. Obama can help short-circuit future scandals like this one by setting an example of integrity at all times and by speaking out when he senses misconduct on the part of Democratic or Republican leaders. Just as importantly, he must urge his staff to do the same.

Indeed, Obama should push every single one of us to demand more from our politicians - and from ourselves. It's fashionable to pile on Blagojevich now. But the fact is he won election as governor twice. Though voters in Illinois are complicit in this particular scandal, let's not regard them too smugly. That wouldn't be fair because the truth is that all Americans play a role in the corruption of our political system. We suspect candidates might have ethical shortcomings, but we vote for them anyway with a wink and a nod, believing that just goes with the territory. Increasingly, we're reaping what we've sown, and political corruption scandals have become a systemic blight on our democracy, lowering performance and raising cynicism. We shouldn't need a special prosecutor to come in and figure out the kind of mess we have on our hands; we've created it ourselves. But we won't really internalize that lesson until we accept some portion of the responsibility.

By John R. Ryan

 |  December 16, 2008; 9:07 PM ET
Category:  Politics Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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As a life time Chicago resident and voter I have two things to say... (1) Obama has kept a significant distance from Blago, his manner of politics and his most noxious associates for years (2)Many alert Illinois voters thought Blago was already badly stained when he ran for reelection a couple of years ago, but the Republican candidate seemed to many voters to be even more tainted by her proximity to the previous governor, George Ryan (R), who was on his way to prison for public corruption.

Posted by: Bill_Wade | December 18, 2008 3:46 PM
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I'll tell you what I've learned - if you're rich and connected, no matter what you've done, no matter how many people you've hurt, no matter how many lives you've wrecked, you're no going to be punished in any meaningful way. That Madoff is subject to "house arrest" in a multimillion dollar mansion and faces "time" in a federal country club, complete with tennis and racket ball courts, massages, gourmet meals, overnight visits by wives and "girl friends" (sometimes paid for) is simply too much. But that is the worst sort of punishment we can manage for all of the Wall Street and corporate swine who screwed this country. Justice and "law and order" in this country is a joke.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | December 18, 2008 12:18 PM
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Lest we forget, it's looking less and less clear whether Mr. Blagojevich has even committed a crime. Political horse-trading may be unseemly, but it's the way our system works through and through. Nothing we've seen so far shows any indication that an actual crime was committed.

Mr. Fitzgerald had better get his act together and present some actual evidence of wrongdoing to back up his sensationalist claims. Otherwise, we will all see this for what it really is -- a politically motivated attempt to bring down Barack Obama by proxy. Mr. Fitzgerald, you should be ashamed of yourself...

Posted by: jerkhoff | December 18, 2008 12:08 PM
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You are right - while we've talked about the importance of good leadership we've seldom talked about good followership. Good leaders make good followers who stand up to their leaders. Good followers are not subordinates but partners with their leaders for the common good.

tom@leadingtoserve.com

Posted by: TomNees | December 18, 2008 11:06 AM
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