Session Notes From #GLS15 (Bill Hybels)

Today was day one of the Global Leadership Summit and it is amazing to take it all in from Willow Creek as everything unfolds. To start off the Summit Bill Hybels gave a great definition of leadership. 

Leadership is about moving people from “Here” to “There.”
— Bill Hybels

Leadership at its core is all about movement and as leaders in different stages of our leading life we all ask a different question. 

  • New leader: Can I do this? 
  • Experienced leader: Can I sustain this?
  • Veteran leader: Can I take this through the finish line. 

When you are a leader the stakes are high at each level and they made note that there was a number of leaders that at last years Summit were ready to through in the towel because the thought of moving people was becoming too much.

The power of the Summit is that it has the ability to turn that desire to run into a desire to return to our churches or organizations with a ferocious desire to lead others well from "Here" to "There." I have felt this way and the Summit when approached in the right way has a great ability to teach every leader that with the right amount of humility anyone can learn from anybody. This value of humility has been touched on for as long as I can remember at the Summit. 

In years past Bill Hybels has taught on 8 characteristics of leadership and they are as follows.

Casting Vision
Building Teams
Motivating & Inspiring
Solving Problems
Change management
Establishing Core Values
Allocating Resources
Developing Emerging Leaders
— Bill Hybels - 8 Characteristics of Leadership

By watching some leaders fail and some succeed the question becomes is there more to leadership than these eight qualities. He was handed a copy of The Intangibles of Leadership by Richard A. Davis (see link below) and another five intangibles of leadership began to present themselves. 

1) Grit

How is it that individuals with lesser talent can strive in a leadership environment? How is it that they are able to show levels of passion and perseverance that are of the charts? Research shows that The secret to top performance is unremitting, long-term tenacity. In other words great leaders have grit. One thing that sets a gritty person apart is that the expect to see and take on difficult tasks, but they believe that anything can be overcome. The great thing is if you don't think you have grit you can develop your grit level. 

When you grow grit in any area of your life it bleeds into the others.”

”Grit development demands difficulty”

”The arch-enemy of grit is ease.

These three quotes from Bill sum up grit development. It is not easy and it grows when you prevail over a difficult task. So the question is do you run away from hard times or do you push through and finish strong.  By the way you can take a grit assessment here to see your level of grit. I took it twice and got a 3.8 out of 5 each time. 

Grit matters in life. And it matters in leadership. Those with more of it will succeed more than those with less of it.

One thing that was mentioned was that  most elite leaders volunteer for extra work assignments and show steely determination to carry it out. Grit takes work to grow and develop but the pay-off is worth it. 

2) Self Awareness

The second intangible of leadership was self awareness and I really enjoyed what was said. The first realization was that every decision a leader makes can usually be traced back to past experiences in their life that affect how they view a possible solution to a problem. Past experiences become tethered to leadership decisions. The reason this can be a bad thing is that the leader that makes the decisions does not have the self awareness to realize their past experiences are hindering their leadership. 

The second topic covered was that all leaders have blind spots. Blind spots were defined as: 

Something someone believes they do well but everyone on the team knows it is not true.
— Bill Hybels

Most leaders have on average of 3.4 blind spots, but if you were to ask them what they are they would not be able to tell you what they are. That is why they are blind spots. However, everyone around you can probably tell you what they are. You can get help with your blind spots by asking your team what they might be, or someone that you have a deep relationship bond with i.e. spouse. 

Once you know what your blind spots you do have you can move them from being a blind spot into being a weakness that you are trying to improve. For me I want to move receiving feed back well from a blind spot into weakness so I picked up Sheila Heen's book Thanks For The Feedback (see link below). 

3) Resourcefulness

Resourceful leaders have the remarkable skill of leadership ability. They are able to roll up their sleeves and attack an issue  with an insurmountable force in order to get the job done.  

Resourcefulness demands that you fight your way forward and figure it out until you do.
— Bill Hybels

You can develop resourcefulness by placing yourself in confusing leadership situations that force you to take the situations that are dysfunctional and work at them until you figure it out. You can also determine whether your emerging leaders have leadership agility by creating short-term task forces to work on issues that will stretch their development.  

4) Self Sacrificing Love

2 All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him.
— 1 Samuel 22:2 New International Version (NIV)

Bill used this story of David to illustrate how powerful self sacrificing love is in regards to changing the people that you are leading. David is given the leftover leaders to carry out the mission God has given him and in the next few chapters is all about how David grew the leadership potential of those around them. He showed them how love creates a community and how love changes everything.  

Vision is not the core of leadership. Self sacrificing love will always be at the core of leadership.
— Bill Hybels

A little bit later three senior leaders broke through enemy lines to get water from the Bethlehem Well and and it was David’s greatest leadership moment. He realized his investment had paid off, his leadership, more importantly his love had transformed the men God had placed under his care. He remembered hearing the whispers of God who said, “I want you to love these guys.”

15 David longed for water and said, “Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!” 16 So the three mighty warriors broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David. But he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out before the Lord. 17 “Far be it from me, Lord, to do this!” he said. “Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?” And David would not drink it.
— 2 Samuel 23:15-17

As a leader it is imperative to show your team love. When affirmation and love is communicated well it has a way of humanizing the workplace and it will be the level of love shown by the most senior of leaders that will drive the change of culture within your organization. 

5) Sense of Meaning: Knowing Your "White-Hot" Why

Simon Sinek in his book "Start With Why" says that most organizations can tell you what they do and most can tell you how they do what they do, but most organizations cannot tell you why they do what they do. 

What is your white-hot why? What is it that drives you to go to work everyday? This "why" will either fuel you as a leader or show you that your current "why" is not driving you to excellence. This should also move you as a leader towards improving yourself and those serving with you. In our children's ministry and youth ministry at The Peoples Church our "white-hot" why is: 

We want our kids to be motivated by the Gospel to live out their faith everyday.

We make sure that everyone knows this. I have told our Summer Camp staff this very phrase more times than I can count because that is why we do summer camp and what we want every child to move towards. 

Step it up. Find your white hot why and turn over heaven and earth to achieve it.”
— Bill Hybels

The call towards better leadership was evident in the first session and the need for leaders to step it up because leadership matters.