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Everything we do has consequences. The higher one’s position is, the bigger impact that consequence has. During this challenging time, leaders need to make many difficult decisions. What guides you through the decision making process?

In his book, “Do Morals Matter”, Joseph Nye provides a concise yet penetrating analysis of the role of ethics in US foreign policy during the American era after 1945. He evaluated US presidents as Moral Foreign Policy leaders based on 3 dimensions: Intentions, means, and consequences.

A checklist specifies these 3 dimensions as follows:

Intentions: Goals and Motives

1.   Moral vision

Did the leader express attractive values, and did those values determine his or her motives?Did he or she have the emotional IQ to avoid contradicting those values because of personal needs?

2.   Prudence

Did the leader have the contextual intelligence to wisely balance the values pursued and the risks imposed on others?


3.   Use of force

Did the leader use the appropriate amount of force with attention to necessity, discrimination in treatment of civilians, and proportionality of benefits and damages?

4.   Liberal concerns

Did the leader try to respect and use institutions at home and abroad? To what extent were the rights of others considered?


5.   Fiduciary

Was the leader a good trustee? Were long-term interests of the country advanced?

6.   Cosmopolitan

Did the leader also consider the interests of other peoples and minimize unnecessary damage to them?

7.   Educational

Did the leader respect the truth and build credibility? Were facts respected? Did the leader try to create and broaden moral discourse at home and abroad?

During this difficult moment in time, people are emotional and consequently challenged, both by emotions and by other various factors that inevitably impact emotions. Leaders are making decisions that could impact many people’s lives. This checklist can be used as a guidance. Your ability to envision the consequences of those decisions is key for the successful execution of those decisions and to ensure they make a positive impact. Ask yourself about your intentions, means of approaching a decision, and the consequences of that decision before making a decision that is critical.

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