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Hillary Clinton Has An Opportunity To Lay The Foundation For Her Legacy Through Effective Change Leadership – Will She Take It?

In a previous article1, I alluded to the fact that Donald Trump does not deserves the presidency, because he is not capable of carrying out the most important responsibility of the President of the United States: To unite the country behind the cause of improving the Union, so that it continues to deliver to its citizens the promise of unalienable Rights, includig Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

I believe Hillary Clinton has the potential to achieve her desired legacy if she takes advantage of a rare opportunity that Trump is unwittingly giving her.

Donald Trump cannot unite the leaders within his own party, let alone across party lines, and therefore, if elected, he will not be able to achieve much.  His bullying behavior creates only resentment in those who don’t support him, and his erratic nature and unfiltered opinions have alienated Republicans, to the point that some have decided to vote for Clinton.

The turmoil in the Republican Party presents a unique opportunity for Hillary Clinton to show Republicans that she can find common ground and work with them to bring about meaningful, positive change for all Americans.

Finding common ground is a prerequisite for achieving her goals as President, and thereby establishing her legacy.

All presidential candidates lay out the issues they are passionate about.  These issues are the basis of goals they hope to achieve while in the White House.  Hillary Clinton has followed suite with no less than 37 issues2, including a fair tax system, education and criminal justice reform. Clinton’s issues are broad enough that she can find common ground with Republicans about many of them.  The process for doing this can start now.

Clinton’s Opportunity to be a Change Leader

Demystifying Change Management3 presents four steps in the process of effective Change Management.  These are (1) Know your stakeholders, (2) Mind the gaps, (3) Close the gaps, and (4) Cross over to the future state.

Change Leadership for Clinton would involve working with her senior team to identifying key stakeholders for the high-level goals Clinton wants to achieve.  It would involve understanding the “alignment gaps” between stakeholders.  Alignment gaps indicate where leaders don’t agree.

Closing these gaps, or better yet, avoiding them altogether, would allow Democrats and Republicans together, under Clinton’s leadership, to clearly define goals that paint a vision of the future state.  The collaborative vision will motivate the nation and those who are charged with planning and acting to achieve the goals.  Together, they can help the nation cross over to the future state.

Identify and connect with key stakeholders

The groundwork for collaboration with Republicans can start now by identifying those members of Congress and Senate who are on the fence about supporting Trump and creating an “Influence Map.” The Influence Map visually connects stakeholders with others in their party over whom the stakeholder has influence.  The Influence Map should guide the strategy for meetings with Republican leaders.  It should also guide who among the Democratic leadership should meet with Republican stakeholders and convey to them Clinton’s sincere intent to collaborate to achieve great things for America.

Democratic leaders, like Nancy Pelosi, who presided over one of the most contentious political gridlocks in history, should not be among those who attempt to engage disaffected Republican leaders.  In fact, a new house Democratic leader is needed to initiate a collaborative future.  Nancy should gracefully step down and stand behind others in this effort to reach across the aisle.

Understand Alignment Gaps

Clinton’s 37 issues are a good start.  Under her leadership, the Clinton team should organize the issues from most likely to be supported by influential Republicans to least.  Because issues and high-level goals related to them are broad and do not contain the details of how they will be achieved, they are excellent fodder for conversation and for finding common ground.  If alignment is sought ahead of time by looking for compatible goals, initial meetings can be very successful in building rapport.

A common cause of rift and widening alignment gaps between parties is putting ideological bias ahead of the mission to do what is best for the country.  Politicians often lean on ideology when they want to oppose a solution from the opposing party, regardless of how effective the solution is likely to be.  Hence the need to understand common goals and to put a face on what achieving those goals will mean for people.

Premature discussions about the method by which goals will be achieved can result in people taking an ideological stance on the problem, resulting in roadblocks to discussing actionable steps.  Therefore, it is important to spend time appearing in front of each other’s constituents together, touting the importance of specific goals related to issues that mean something to people.  The activity of conversing about goals across party lines and engaging each other’s constituents in these conversations will set the stage for how goals can be achieved.

Alignment on goals is reached when the different parties not only agree about the value of pursuing those goals, but also agree that the search for methods of achieving the goals must be infused with more pragmatism and less ideology, where efficiency and effectiveness measures are the indicators of success.

Close the Gaps and Cross Over to the Future State

Even if there is agreement on goals, there are likely to be disagreements or alignment gaps on how to achieve those goals.  Who gets assigned to negotiate and participate in building the path to achieving a goal can spell success or ideological gridlock and therefore failure.  In the interest of collaboration, Clinton should propose that each party interview and select from the other party who they would want to be on the committee to create the plan to achieve a goal.  Reagan Democrats are likely to fare well with Republicans.  The Democratic leadership can be assured that if the Reagan democrats did not share their core beliefs, they would not call themselves Democrats.  Therefore, their selection should be encouraged and will help close the alignment gaps with Republicans.

Modeling and encouraging working together, freely recognizing Republican leaders for their support and contribution, and celebrating when agreements are reached will bring in an era of collaborative and successful government.

Ms. Clinton, your most recent mantra has the word “together” in it.  I’m not convinced you mean together with the Republicans.  The entire nation yearns for a government for the people – please, give it to us by working together with Republicans to make America great again!

Copyright 2016 by Andrew Shamrao, All Rights Reserved

1Why I believe Hillary Clinton should be the next American president – despite her questionable judgment and run-of-the-mill, election-year promises. By Andrew Shamrao, Published July 28, 2016, www.andrewshamrao.com.

2Hillary Clinton’s Goals

3Demystifying Change Management.  By Andrew Shamrao, Published June 16, 2016, www.andrewshamrao.com.