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The FBI Way

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The FBI Way

Inside the Bureau’s Code of Excellence

Custom House,

15 min read
5 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

The FBI has an effective, values-based management style, applicable beyond the realm of law enforcement.

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What can leaders learn from the FBI’s approach to performance under stress? Plenty, says former FBI assistant director Frank Figliuzzi. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation subjects employees to strict scrutiny and high standards. As a result of selecting the right people and immediately inculcating its values, code of conduct violations are rare. The FBI Code is based on the “7 C’s”: Code, Conservancy, Clarity, Consequences, Compassion, Credibility and Consistency. Clarity ensures that all the FBI’s people know how they are expected to conduct themselves based on group values. The FBI sets unambiguous rules and clear consequences. Compassion is built into the compliance process to ensure values assimilation and credibility. Figliuzzi details what you can learn from the FBI’s emphasis on professionalism, clarity, compassion and credibility. 


​​​​​The FBI carefully selects and cultivates its employees. Agents face extreme scrutiny before and after the FBI hires them.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has more than 35,000 employees in the United States and abroad, yet only a small percentage of employees ever face misconduct allegations or findings. That is because employees are strictly screened when they apply, and because the FBI’s organizational values and culture are strongly taught and assimilated.

The FBI’s code flows directly from its core values, the “7 C’s”:  Code, Conservancy, Clarity, Consequences, Compassion, Credibility and Consistency. All organizations should develop and disseminate their core values, then promote a code of conduct that reflects those values. The FBI identified honesty under oath as one of the essentials of its code. Therefore, all employees know that they will be dismissed if they lie under oath. Any organization can ask itself what kind of conduct is most injurious to its brand and its mission, and establish clear consequences accordingly.

Like all effective codes of conduct, the FBI’s code reflects the organization...

About the Author

Former FBI special agent Frank Figliuzzi served the Agency as an assistant director charged with leading the Counterintelligence Division. He is a national security analyst for NBC News and MSNBC.

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