If the initial task of the language of leadership is to spark energy and initiate forward motion, its never-ending task is to ensure that the change idea continues to be pursued with sustained élan, spirit, and passion (Denning, 2007; p.199).
A United Goal and Historic Achievement
In an era when global economics and establishing universal social reforms have become common concerns to all, world leaders find themselves governing from a central fishbowl as the world’s audience peers into every facet of the programs and policies they enact. Vladimir Putin of Russia, knows this all too well since terrorism threats and social concerns about Russia’s gay rights law became center-stage news. The 2014 Winter Olympics (in Sochi) provided a stage, established a set of common interest and concerns, the purpose, and months of world media coverage on which the world’s audience could arbitrate for their values. Similarly, the political and social unrest occurring in nations such as Syria, now also in Ukraine, have been top news, particularly as human rights violations and the consensus that senseless slaughtering of protestors have become alarming events (The New York Times).
An ongoing concern for global leadership has been economics, both domestic and global, and how to strengthen and restore the economies of developed nations while working to address—among several major issues--poverty while also developing new, sustainable economies in the world’s poorest nations. In 2000, the solution that 189 (UN) nations agreed to was dubbed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). And, with a goal to target eight specific areas of global concern, the MDGs deadline of 2015 is less than 1,000 days away, says John Podesta, Chair of the Center for American Progress. As a member of the High Level Panel, a group formed to oversee and encourage the ongoing pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals, John is one of many global leadership voices representing the United Nation’ 2000 initiatives, but also a global panel mission to look into post-2015 work of nations towards eradicating each of the eight MDGs.
At the Millennium Summit in September 2000 the largest gathering of world leaders in history adopted the UN Millennium Declaration, committing their nations to a new global partnership to reduce extreme poverty and setting out a series of time-bound targets, with a deadline of 2015, which have become known as the Millennium Development Goals. (Source: MDG Success: Accelerating Action, Partnering for Impact (23Sep.2013)
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Targeted for 2015 are to:
1. Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger (halve the poverty of the world’s population between 1990-2015)
2. Achieve Universal Primary Education
3. Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
4. Reduce Child Mortality
5. Improve Maternal Health
6. Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Other Diseases
7. Ensure Environmental Sustainability
8. Global Partnership for Development
Setting the Stage for Accelerated, Measured and Supportive Leadership
The Secretary-General’s event replaced multiple single issue events with one coherent day-long event that drew lessons across issue areas and mobilized support for the full range of MDGs. This provided a platform for progress on the Secretary-General’s initiatives and validated his vision for strengthening strategic partnership across the UN system.
In September 2013, the Secretary-General hosted a high-level forum to catalyze and accelerate further action to achieve the [eight] MDGs. The event focused on concrete examples of scaling up success and identifying opportunities for more. The emphasis will be on the “how” – bringing together examples from partnerships across the spectrum of MDGs and Secretary-General’s initiatives. It is intended that the outcomes of the forum will enrich the deliberations of the General Assembly... (Source: Speech by the UN’s Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon – Jul. 1, 2013 (in Switzerland)
Given how little time remains to accomplish these eight goals, immediate, strategic alliances and networking are critically needed. As Denning (2007) says, The first steps aim at creating the spark; once that’s happened, the flames need to be fanned and turned into an unstoppable conflagration (p.199). In fact, in speeches by both the Secretary-General and John Podesta, there are clear undertones of trying to encourage the 189 nations of the world to remain vigilant in the quest to achieve the MDGs, but also to envision moving beyond them to a new development era on connectedness and engagement. In other words, a consistent energizing and unifying voice is needed, particularly in light of the economic pressures so many nations have faced this past decade. This begs the question: Are the world’s leaders still onboard with the MDGs Initiatives, or have some—even the most prominent, like the U.S. and Great Britain—backed off to address more domestic-oriented but pressing issues? And, if so, what must the UN and Podesta’ High Level Panel do to stimulate all nations—to the original agreement—to continue their support and engagement?
Global leadership communicators [such as the Secretary-General and Podesta, must] strive to reach both head and heart, according to Baldoni (2013) p.129. Each must develop a narrative that allows them to connect with the[ir] audience by: 1) stimulating the intellect, 2) appealing to their emotions, and 3) encouraging [continued] physical engagement (p.129). Denning posits that conversations are crucial to leadership because leadership entails the co-creation of innovation (p.206). He recommends that leaders who attempt to stimulate desires in others “use a springboard or factual story to relate to the substance in an attentive, sympathetic way . . . [that] with the story, the listeners begin to imagine the future, and so it became credible” (p.225). This is important since not every MDG co-signer is onboard or even stimulated to do anything about the goals. According to Podesta, the American public hates foreign aid. Polls show it is the least popular item in the budget and the only area where people consistently support spending cuts (Center for American Progress).
But not all nations feel like Americans about global relief efforts. A few key the Millennium Development Goals have shown impressive progress, such as reducing by half the number of those who live on less than $1.25 per day. But as Podesta notes in his April 8, 2013 speech to the Center for American Progress, “moving more than 600 million people out of extreme poverty in the process—we must not let up on pushing this target forward” (Center for American Progress). This will demand the participation and resources of every nation if the goals stand any chance of being achieved.
Global Agenda(s) Require Global Partnerships
Hackman and Johnson (2013) offer a strategy designed to organize a global effort involving leadership from all nations. They term it Global Team Charter (p.233). Specifically, they recommend 5 keys to forming and operating a global team charter:
1. Charter- should list both task and process goals in clear, specific, and measurable terms.
2. Expectations- at list of 5-6 specific goals should be identified and established
3. Policies and Procedures- boundaries are needed for evaluating team behavior
4. Timeline and Project Plan- charter should divide project into tasks with appropriate timelines and completion dates
5. Rules- ensure that both task and process roles are clearly assigned
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