Hard Fought Leadership Lessons

I like to live scribe my notes when I get to hear great leadership talks--it helps me learn and gives me something to look back on in coming years. A secondary benefit is that it might prove encouraging or insightful for some of you who weren't able to attend this year.

The Summit was kicked off with a great talk by Bill Hybels, the founder of the Leadership Summit and pastor of Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago.

Some of my favorite takeaways...

  • "The needs of the team can many times fall to second place with the thrill of the vision."
  • "Leaders with the highest level of vision and passion often have the lowest level of awareness of the spirit of the team surrounding him/her."
  • "Your culture will only ever be as healthy as the senior leader wants it to be." Any effort to work on culture will fail without 100% buy-in from the leader at the top.
  • "People join organizations. They leave managers." So true. Sometimes you need to leave a great organization in order to preserve your soul. I would have loved to hear Bill talk about the pain and reality of losing Jim Mellado and Greg Hawkins in the past year. Per this statement, they left Bill, not Willow. What did that mean? How did he feel? What did it cause him to do different? Think different? Change?
  • "Every worker secretly wants to know at the end of the day: How Am I Doing?" A few years ago at the Summit, Jack Welch said, "The highest form of management is the truth."
  • Every meeting should contain the three M's: 1) Move something ahead; 2) Modify the plan as needed; 3) Motivate your team. Make sure they leave encouraged.
  • Assigning people to a short-term task force is one of the best tools in developing leaders. But every task force should have these five components: 1) success or failure must both be possible; 2) emerging leader must take full charge; 3) must work with a wide variety of people; 4) must involve real pressures and a deadline; 5) the end product and performance must be evaluated by a senior leader. 
  • You want legacy leaders (in for the long-term) and not ladder-climbers. Legacy leaders are concerned about culture and making a difference--versus ladder-climbers who are driven by ambition.
  • Bill shared an illustration about his dad giving a plot of land to the church upon which a camp was built to help dads and their kids. It was his story about legacy leaders. Great story which represented leaving a legacy gift -- being generous upon your death -- but left me wanting for a story that was about legacy leadership and not legacy giving.
  • In recent years, Bill has realized he needs "solitary time" which is beyond vacations or study breaks. My "writing breaks" over the past few years have provided me that. I will need to look for a way to continue to renew without the quarterly breaks I've had in the past.

Thanks, Bill, for sharing your heart. You have been one of my greatest leadership mentors over the past 20 years.

Tim Stevens3 Comments