Bill Clinton and Inclusion

by Lance Secretan

Clinton-and-Lance

In late March I participated in a remarkable event called LEAD2015. It was the brain child of Debbie McGrath, the founder of HR.com, who had a vision: to put together an event featuring 22 global thought leaders, speaking for 22 minutes each, over two days. Because high-level events of this kind are beyond the reach of most people, she elected to live-stream the entire event globally with the objective of reaching 1 million people who would therefore be able to access this cutting-edge leadership thinking at a modest cost.

I presented a keynote, and I interviewed President Bill Clinton following his keynote address. Among the questions I asked was, “What are the key qualities of a great leader?” He responded by defining four essential qualities:

  1. Vision
  2. Explanation
  3. Inclusion
  4. Execution

He observed that great leaders, firstly, articulate a very clear road map of what they are trying to achieve; secondly, they explain it thoroughly to all the involved parties; thirdly, they ensure that anyone who is affected, or could be interested in the strategy or objective, is included in the conversation; and finally, they develop a strategy that, when successfully executed, will achieve the vision.

None of this will be new to students of strategy or leadership, but what is striking is President Clinton’s emphasis on inclusion. He elaborated on this point at some length, pointing out that this is where so many leaders fail. We talked quite a bit about President Clinton’s successes and failures, and he stressed that both of these hinged on the quality and success (or lack of it) of inclusion. When all of the affected parties feel as if they have been engaged, consulted and their interests considered, they will then become allies in helping the strategy to be successfully implemented.

As you contemplate your leadership style, and the strategies that you are working on, reflect for a moment: “Have I included all of the parties who could be affected by my leadership or the strategies that I envision?”

*This blog originally appeared on Secretan.com.


lance_photoDr. Lance Secretan is widely acknowledged as one of the most insightful and provocative leadership teachers of our time. He is the former CEO of a Fortune 100 company, university professor, award-winning columnist and author of 15 books about inspiration and leadership. He is a thought leader whose teachings and writings on conscious leadership are courageous, radical and ingenious and have been hailed as among the most original, authentic and effective contributions to leadership thinking currently available.