Bill Clinton and Inclusion

Posted on: April 20th, 2015 by Lance - 6 Comments | Permalink

Clinton and LanceLate last month I participated in a remarkable event called LEAD2015. It was the brain child of Debbie McGrath, the founder of, who had a vision: to put together an event featuring 22 global thought leaders, speaking for 22 minutes each, over 2 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. You may watch each of the speeches here at no cost.

I presented a keynote, and I also 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 4 essential qualities:

  • Vision
  • Explanation
  • Inclusion
  • 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?”

  1. Ronald Bell says:

    All my life I’ve had a passion for inclusion and still do.
    I like Bill Clinton’s emphasis on inclusion, but would AMEN-D his words slightly as follows:

    “When all of the affected parties feel as if they have been engaged, consulted and their interests considered, they will then (MORE LIKELY) become allies in helping the strategy to be successfully implemented.”

    So engaging all stakeholders is crucial, but no guarantee (one example being the rigid, unchanging opposition to President Obama.) Still, getting and engaging all voices into the room optimizes chanches for success.

    • Michelle says:

      I really agree with the comment Ronald has expressed. Great leaders lead by Example, Expectation, Engagement and Enforcement. Refer to the 4 E’s of Leadership (ZH)

  2. If we view leadership as a sacred trust, then inclusion ought to be approached with reverence for the relationship. ‘How’ we engage people is important. This isn’t, as Lance has said in the past, about getting buy-in. Listening well; being mindful and present in the conversation; being open to seeing the vision with a new set of eyes- all of these dynamics deepen the inclusive experience.

    Cool to see you in conversation with Bill Clinton, Lance!

  3. George Torok says:

    Lance, congrats on the interview. Inclusion is a powerful element. I would like to watch the talks. How do I see them?

  4. Bob Chernow says:

    Include all parties is the way it ought to be. Mrs. Clinton’s failure to get others to own her health care plan doomed its passage. On the other hand, look at how LBJ handled civil rights legislation by include Republicans who were pivotal to its success.

    Also, too often inclusion means manipulation, not partnership.

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