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Don Evans: Leaders Need to Go to Their Core Values to Make Hard Decisions

Don Evans, Chairman of the Board of the George W. Bush Foundation, spoke last month to the second class of the Presidential Leadership Scholars program. In this Bush Institute interview, Evans, who served as Secretary of Commerce under President George W. Bush, discusses the importance of using core values and thinking long-term when making difficult decisions as a leader in any walk of life.

Article by Donald L. Evans June 23, 2016 //   3 minute read

The second class of Presidential Leadership Scholars will graduate next month. What would you like these scholars to take away from the administrations they are studying?

I hope one takeaway is the importance of staying true to enduring truths that stand the test of time. The truths of trust, honesty, integrity, hard work, and that the true measure of an individual is a life with a caring spirit and a humble heart.

As a leader, everyone is looking at you and your character. You set the tone. You are the one in the organization people are looking to for their guidance, direction, vision, and mission for the enterprise.

As a leader, everyone is looking at you and your character. You set the tone. You are the one in the organization people are looking to for their guidance, direction, vision, and mission for the enterprise.

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Applications for the 2017 class of Presidential Leadership Scholars are now open. Learn more and apply today.

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As a leader, along the way, you have to make some really tough decisions. Any President has to make some really tough decisions where he is getting advice on both sides of the issue. At moments like that, a President has to make a decision for the nation.

It has always been my hope that anyone making those decisions will go to their core values to decide what is in the long-term interest of whoever is involved. If it is a country like the United States, the decision is about the citizens of America. If it is a decision based on the company someone leads, the decision is about the best interest of the overall enterprise and its stakeholders.

It’s about not getting too wrapped up in the near-term, the short-term, or the easy way out. In an administration, think first and foremost what the right policy is, not what is best politically.

Politics thinks very short-term. It’s near-sighted. We have elections every two years. When you are making the most difficult decisions, I hope leaders will always think about what is in the best long-term interests for the general well- being of those impacted by the decision.