America’s Realignment: Character, Ethics, Leadership

Reawakening the Nation
May 16, 2014 5:03 am Last Updated: April 24, 2016 6:35 am

The inaugural New Jersey Conference: Character, Ethics, Leadership—a local event with national significance—was hosted by The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey on May 12.

Over 250 law enforcement personnel attended the event, including local, county, state, and federal officials. Rank and file from scores of agencies, as well as senior-level executives from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and FBI, filled the campus center auditorium to capacity.

Responding to America’s Head-On Collision

As an event organizer—in collaboration with The Rodgers Group, LLC, Resolution Group International, the United States Military Academy, and the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police—I delivered the opening presentation titled Visionary Leadership Principles: Responding to America’s Head-On Collision.

This leadoff presentation depicted the nation’s crisis of character and culture of violence through the metaphor of two trains in a catastrophic head-on train collision. 

The crisis of character:

  • Public corruption, which causes a great threat to the integrity of all levels of government. Notable convictions highlighted were Jesse Jackson Jr., Lewis Libby, and Jack Abramoff, among scores of others.
  • Corporate fraud and greed such as the Enron scandal, Ponzi scheme mastermind Bernard Madoff, and Richard Fuld of Lehman Brothers and many more
  • Sports scandals including Major League Baseball steroids, National Football League convictions, and Olympic athletes
  • The Roman Catholic priesthood sexual abuse scandal

The culture of violence:

  • School and campus violence—Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Newtown
  • Workplace and domestic violence, active shooters and terrorism including the World Trade Center and Boston Marathon
  • Gangs

I also addressed the breakdown of the family and substance abuse issues. 

After presenting the issues, I called the audience to action through altruism, patriotism, and character. Timeless principles of leadership—inspired by the life of Abraham Lincoln—were presented in order to motivate. 

An inspirational tribute to those serving in the American military—who protect our freedom—concluded my presentation.

Ethical Leadership

After my presentation, Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr., superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, served as keynote speaker with thoughts on ethical leadership including:

  • Honor—adherence to the highest standards of integrity
  • Respect—treating people with dignity
  • Servant Leadership—putting others before ourselves
  • Integrity—doing what is morally and ethically right even when no one is watching us

Caslen stated that public and private life are inseparable. He emphasized that all are vulnerable to ethics violations, including the military, as witnessed with Gen. Petraeus who resigned as CIA director after an extramarital scandal with his biographer surfaced. 

Caslen also underscored the West Point Honor Code—”A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do”—as essential to building trust and instilling values. He concluded by sharing some ethical leadership principles:

  • We not I 
  • Never walk away from weakness—use it as a stepping stone to grow
  • Train to perfection through discipline
  • Balance professional, family, and community responsibilities

The Ethical Protector

The concluding presentation was delivered by Jack Hoban, a subject matter expert for the U.S. Marine Corp Martial Arts Program. Jack emphasized that law enforcement and military personnel are called to be “ethical protectors” with a responsibility to serve and protect all, because everyone deserves dignity.

The heart of Jack’s program was expressed through The Warrior Creed by Robert L. Humphrey, a U.S. Marine who served on Iwo Jima and was his mentor, friend, and inspiration:

Wherever I go
everyone is a little safer because I am there.
Wherever I am, anyone in need has a friend.
Whenever I return home, everyone is happy I am there.
It’s a better life.

Final Reflection

It is America’s destiny to be a moral beacon for the world. This destiny will be realized only after an honest assessment of our crisis. America can then be realigned by enhancing the character, ethics, and leadership that lie within the heart of each of us.

Vincent J. Bove
Vincent J. Bove

Vincent J. Bove, CPP, is a national speaker and author on issues critical to America. Bove is a recipient of the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award for combating crime and violence and is a former confidant of the New York Yankees. His newest book is “Listen To Their Cries.” For more information, see