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Leadership Techniques at Core of Clinton Global Initiatives Success

Congrats to the Clinton Foundation and to Bill Clinton for his ability to draw $7.3 billion from private donations at his 2nd annual Clinton Global Initiatives. The money will be used to take action against world problems such as energy and climate change, global health, poverty alleviation, and the mitigation of religious and ethnic conflict.

Clinton has used effective leadership techniques to succeed in this ambitious endeavor. Clinton successfully galvanized a variety of personalities, cultures, races, and political viewpoints into one cause. His leadership in elevating the importanceCGI Bush.jpg of the issues above the differences of the participants is clear. The Clinton Global Initiatives describes itself as

“a non-partisan catalyst for action, bringing together a community of global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges.”

From the Clinton Global Initiatives conference and website, Clinton’s implementation of effective leadership strategy is apparent as it emphasizes commitment, measuring results and empowering others. From the Clinton Global Initiatives web site:


Commitments translate practical ideas into meaningful action. They generally meet the following criteria:

  • Original: a new or expanded project that is initiated in anticipation of, or as a result of, the Clinton Global Initiative. President Clinton’s “call to action” highlights the growing opportunities for businesses, governments and the nonprofit sector to affect public problems by moving beyond activities or programs already in place.
  • Specific: A project that defines clear and feasible objectives.
  • Measurable: an endeavor that within its fixed time frame shows continued progress and produces a quantifiable outcome
Any leader could implement these features to accomplish an organizational goal:
  • Define clear and feasible objectives
  • Translate practical ideas into meaningful action through commitment
  • Establish a fixed time frameIdentify a quantifiable outcome
  • Measure and monitor progress

Clinton’s ability to attract and retain global, non-partisan support for this important cause is due in part to his use of these leadership tenets, encompassed by the principle of commitment.

AP Photo - Seth Wenig

Former President Bill Clinton Leads 2nd Annual Clinton Global Initiative

Former President Clinton was at his best this week as he hosted the Clinton Global Initiative. The conference, which ran from September 20-22 gathered an impressive list of world and business leaders as well as some Hollywood celebrities (never missing a chance to be on stage next to Bill). As it concluded today, the former president announced a total of $7.3 billion in pledges that will help reduce global warming and fight Third World poverty, disease and ethnic strife.

From its website,

“The Clinton Global Initiative is designed to inspire action. Every participant mustCGI logo.jpg pledge to take a specific action in one of our focus areas. These commitments have ranged from $100 million to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa, to a donation of 20,000 bicycles in disaster-torn Sri Lanka, to 100 hours volunteered in an interfaith youth group.”

In only its second year, the conference was a dazzling success. According to the Washington Post,

“The three-day Clinton Global Initiative, which attracted world leaders, corporate titans and, produced at least 215 commitments of financial support to a range of projects supported by the Clinton Foundation. Last year's gathering produced 300 commitments worth $2.5 billion.”

Sir Richard Branson was a significant reason for the increase in financial commitments as he pledged $3 billion to develop alternative energy sources.CIG Branson.jpg

To assist him in his global fight against poverty, disease, war and pollution, Clinton handpicked his invitees, bringing together some of the richest and most influential people on Earth and energizing them to take on some of the world's worst problems. Clinton is impressive in his ability to attract support and garner followers. The list of invitees included nearly 50 heads of state as well as billionaires and a variety of royalty and Hollywood stars.

Attendees gathered in support of Clinton and these important issues included First Lady Laura Bush (in photo with Steve Case AOL founder), former Vice President Al Gore, and billionaire businessmenCIG 1.jpg Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch, cyclist Lance Armstrong, CBS News anchor Katie Couric and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Clinton was clear that he was reaching out to solve world problems, something that he felt must rise above partisan politics.

"No matter what your politics are, there ought to be things that we can agree on need to be done," Clinton said. "Shouldn't there be some forum where Americans and citizens of the world can put aside their differences and find common ground?"

Clinton’s charisma, personality and commitment to solve issues draw people to him. In a world divided on so many levels, a non-partisan commitment to improve the human family is needed. The intitiative of one leader has taken a great step toward a solution

Branson Photo Credit: Tina Fineberg -- Associated Press Photo

Joe Lieberman Takes a Stand

PR legend Harold Burson  wrote:

"The problem for society is whether leadership can survive under conditions that are influencing, perhaps even forcing our leaders to respond to measurable public demand.

Would it have been possible for President Roosevelt to support the British war effort against Nazi Germany with the constant din of the media and polls overwhelmingly in favor of strict neutrality? Could President Nixon have opened the doors to a relationship with
China if diplomacy had been conducted in a fishbowl?"

With increasing media coverage and exposure and the ability of citizens to involve themselves in media (bloggers), it is becoming more and more difficult for political leaders to take a stand against an onslaught of public voices. 

This leadership issue is in full-swing in Connecticut where Senator Joe Lieberman is facing a difficult primary election. The former vice-presidential candidate supports the U.S.’s continued involvement in Iraq. His “stay the course” position is in stark opposition to his opponent in the primary, Ned Lamont.

As is often the case, those that position themselves farthest from the center tend to make the most noise. Lieberman, by supporting a policy of a Republican President, risks losing the Democrat's Senate seat. He has already lost the support of many left-wingers and has seen a large lead in the polls slowly dissipate as noted in the Washington Post.

Lieberman is standing by a position that he feels is right despite the costs. After four visits to Iraq in 17 months, Lieberman took his stand public in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal last fall. While far-left Democrats and liberal bloggers are mobilizing anti-war Democrats to support Lamont, former President Bill Clinton, a Democratic party darling, stands by Lieberman as Lieberman stands by the war. Loyalty to cause or person in a "flavor-of-the-month" society is a rare trait but necessary to lead.

“If you don’t stand for something, you fall for anything.”

Former President Bill Clinton Leads Fight Against Fat
Former President Bill Clinton, the former chubster, has used his leadership, influence and charm to create a coalition that will attack the growing epidemic of obesity in children. 

Through The Clinton Foundation, the penitent junk-food junkieClinton Soda.jpg brokered an agreement between, The American Heart Association and the US’s three largest beverage producers The Coca-Cola Company(KO), PepsiCo, Inc.(PEP), Cadbury Schweppes plc (CBRY) to eliminate high-calorie, sugary drinks in schools. The American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation joined together to form the “Alliance for a Healthier Generation" in an effort to fight childhood obesity and the serious diseases associated with it such as heart disease and diabetes.

Over the next four years, the beverage manufactures have vowed to replace their high-calorie drinks with bottled water, unsweetened fruit juices, low-fat milk and sugar-free sodas. That is not a lightening-speed implementation. Most of these products are sold in vending machines and serve approximately 35 million school-age children.soda.story.jpg

Some facts that led Clinton to use his energy, influence and resources to cut the sugar stream in schools:

  • 17% of kids are obese with an additional 15% at risk
  • Two 12-ounce cans of soda a day (average for kids age 15-19) yields an equivalent of a 1.5 lb. bag of sugar a week
  • There are 240 calories in a 20-oz. bottle of Coke and virtually no vitamins or nutrients
  • Soda is the favored drink among kids age 6 to 14 and accounts for 24% of drinks in the 11 to 14 age group
  • An estimated 9 million schoolchildren ages 6-19 nationwide are overweight, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Clinton, who survived quadruple bypass surgery in 2004, may be the best suited to lead this charge and focus the public on this issue. He says, "These industry leaders recognize that childhood obesity is a problem and have stepped up to help solve it." His pressure and the potential for litigation probably helped. This proposal, may not be an immediate solution but it is clearly a step in the right direction.

Not everybody appreciated this solution and called it a PR stunt by the beverage companies after momentum from grassroots efforts began to take hold.

Read more on this story at Time and on another similar initiative at MarketingBlurb.

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