How to bridge the legendary gap between government aspirations and actual accomplishments? Donna Shalala told more than 70 health ministers at the keynote session of a Harvard forum to have a clear sense of what they want to achieve and how they plan to achieve it; to pursue ambitious goals with purpose and persistence; and to stay focused on end goals even while dealing with the routine work of government.
Shalala—former U.S. Secretary for Health and Human Services and current president and CEO of the Clinton Foundation—told the group that one of the toughest aspects of leadership is building shared values, effective relationships, and trust with the professional civil service and various stakeholders. How to get others on board to support your goals? Have a strong sense of conviction, Shalala said.
Shalala spoke to the ministers, as well as to current and former cabinet-level officials from around the world and to Harvard faculty, at the fourth annual Harvard Health Leaders’ Ministerial Forum, which convenes a select group of current health ministers from Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia for a five-day program focused on enhancing leadership effectiveness to enable sustainable improvements in public health services and outcomes. By the end of the program, each minister completes a plan for strengthening the public health sector in his or her home country.