Thursday, August 6, 2015

Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit--Bill Hybels

(Here at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit praying for God to give me new insight to help me in leading with Operation Christmas Child)

Bill Hybels--
Forty years ago I was canvassing neighborhoods and asking people to consider coming to a new church.  A few weeks later we sold tomatoes door-to-door to earn money to rent a movie theater to start our church.  We will celebrate 40 years as a church this summer.

We're at different places in our leadership journeys.  It's about moving people from here to there.  Leadership is not about protecting a position; leadership is moving people, a cause--from current reality to some better place.

Some of you are where I was 40 years ago--at the beginning of the journey and you're asking "Can I do this?"

Others of you are at the half-way point and you're asking, "Can I sustain this?"

A small percentage of you are near the finish line and you're asking, "Can I take this across the finish line?  Can I transition to the next leader?"

Ten percent of you are thinking seriously of quitting whatever you're leading right now.  Many others are in need of a new vision.  The highest value at the GLS is humility--each of us declaring we have so much more to learn.  Armed with enough humility we can learn from anyone.  With sufficient levels of humility the religious can learn from those who consider themselves less so and vice versa.

In the early days of the GLS, I identified 8 critical values of leadership.  I built a case that if leaders would master these 8 functions they would be successful.  Now I've watched many learn these functions and still fail.  This has led to long hours of reflection.  I thought--what if there's another list?  Who has it?  How do I get it?

"The Intangibles of Leadership" by Richard Davis written in 1910--says leaders possess intangibles that set them apart.  I devoured the book and highly recommend it.  Here are 5 aspects that get little press.

1.  Grit -- Why do people with lesser talent and IQ out-perform?  Grit=passion and perseverance over the long haul; steely determination over decades; being able to expend full energy over the finish line; gritty people expect progress to be difficult but believe they can overcome obstacles that stand in their way.  "The Little Engine That Could"-- All the big engines refuse to do the job, then along comes a small engine who is willing to take the toys to the poor children on the other side of the mountain (this SO reminds me of Operation Christmas Child.)  The little engine strains up the mountain saying, "I think I can."  As it's descending into the village it says, "I thought I could."

example of leader who lost his love, defeated in political races, but was finally elected as president--Abraham Lincoln.  He had grit.  Nelson Mandela had it; Gandhi and Martin Luther King had it.  Do you have it?  The odds of getting the toys over the mountain are higher if you do.

Grit assessment test on website and you'll get a grit score you can compare to your team mates.

Grit can be developed in anyone who wants it; the arch enemy of grit is ease.  Grit development demands difficulty.  It demands a series of mountains for you to pull the trains over which sets you up for the next mountain.  Grit grows every time you prove you can overcome an obstacle with tenacity and perseverance.  You must will yourself to grit achievement.  Elite leaders have figured out that overcoming physical challenges is one way to grow grit.  And when you grow grit in any area of your life it spills over into others.   Jack Welsh says, "When your supervisor gives you an assignment, don't just deliver--over-deliver every time."  In other words, show grit.  When senior leaders demonstrate grittiness, when they over-deliver in their contribution to the effort, teammates notice and start to push themselves and the whole organizations gets grittier and gritty organizations are unstoppable (This SO reminds me of the leadership of Operation Christmas Child.)

2.  Self-Awareness -- This sounds boring but there's a lot more to it.  First leader was raised by an abusive father who told his son he was worthless; when he was at college he became a believer and decided to become a pastor;  He led his church into a building program that was bigger than it needed and took it into debt.  The church board fired him.  He went on to do the same thing in the next two churches he led.  Just as he was being fired from church #3, he was asked why he did this.  The better question was, "Who are you trying to impress?"  His decisions were tethered to his relationship with his father.  Without self-awareness he will keep repeating this destructive behavior.

Another leader has been leading a ministry so well that half the board thinks the ministry should go international and half thinks it's premature.  Right in the middle of this decision this female CEO offers her resignation.  When she was a little girl both parents became violent alcoholics and her mission was to make peace.  Now she avoids conflict.  She is not aware of what's driving her decision to resign.

Shocking percentages of leaders every day make questionable decisions totally unaware they're being driven by things in their past.  This could derail a career.

Blind spots in the lives of leaders stem from self-awareness.  It's the CEO who thinks his monthly pep talks are firing up the troops when he is really a laughingstock.  Blind spot = something someone believes they do well while everyone on the team knows it's not true.  Everyone has 3.4 blind spots and 100% of you said, "Not me."  You're blind to your blind spots.  You really have to idea they exist.

For decades I prided myself on being cool under pressure (or so I thought.)  A few years ago I had a very stressful time and one day a female colleague said, "You don't even know you make all of us crazy when you're stressed out.  Just so you know, I'm not getting on the crazy train this time."  I was speechless.  Later, when I was licking my wounds I walked past a Willow Creek employee who was washing windows and he was whistling.  I thought if he has the energy to whistle he should be washing harder and faster--he ought to be as miserable as I am right now.  That was the moment I saw my blind spot in all of its ugliness.  How could I have not seen this?  I started confessing this to my friends and then I could move that into my weakness category but at least it was identified.

Do you have any blind spots?  How would you identify them?  Data shows your direct supervisor probably has the most insight into these followed by your peers and colleagues.  Line up your past spouses and mothers-in-law and they will tell you your blind spots.

Self-awareness is a very big deal.  Knowing how your past is messing with the decisions you make today is crucial.  How do you grow in self-awareness?  It will not grow in isolation.  It demands insight from others.  Ask for others to tell you.  This might be very hard the first time you hear it.  You will come to see these revelations as gifts and the likelihood of the toys getting over the mountain will increase.

3.  Resourcefulness -- The learning agility.  Resourceful people are quick learners.  They are collaborative and enthusiastic.  In a world that changes rapidly senior leaders are thrust into situations where they don't know what to do.  Resourceful people roll up their sleeves and find out.  The Wright brothers were not college trained or wealthy.  They studied birds for years and eventually built their airplane wings on that model.  When the engine was too heavy they learned to build one from aluminum.  Every time they came up against an unsurmountable challenge, they experimented and failed and stayed at it until they figured it out.  That's what resourceful people do.  Finally on 12/7/1903 their airplane took off in flight.  So much of their success was determined by their near addiction to learning.

Resourcefulness can be developed; the primary way it gets developed is by putting yourself in situations that are confused and then making yourself stay at it until you figure it out.  Last year I asked you to identify real problems in your organization and form teams to figure them out.  I followed my own advice and several times in the past year I put young staff in situations and found out who has learning agility.

4.  Self-Sacrificing Love -- David in the Bible is under death threats from the king so he organizes a militia.  "All his followers were in distress or in debt or discontented."  David ends up with rejects.  David trains and coaches the troops and identifies leaders and organizes the troops.  He shows concern for them.  The army develops devotion for him and for each other.  One night an enemy army sneaks up on them and cuts off their supplies.  David calls a meeting with this three senior leaders and explains the problem, then says he wishes he could drink water from the well by the Bethlehem gate.  Then they wake up David and give him the water.  What would most leaders do when presented with such a gift?  Drink it?  Share it?  David refused to drink it and instead poured it out as a drink offering to God.  What David did was an effective leadership example that could transform organizations.

David remembered how his team was in the beginning and sees how his investment has paid off.  He remembers how God has whispered to him to love his team even if they weren't the cream of the crop--God told him to love them like God loved David--to serve them, inspire them, empower them, pray for them by name.  God was teaching David that self-sacrificing love is at the very core of leadership. Vision is not the core of leadership.  Strategy is not the core.  Self-sacrificing love has always been and always will be at the very core of leadership.  Love never fails.  Love changes people.  Love builds communities that feel more like families than work groups.  David's love resulted in a supernatural transformation over time.  David reminds them that God deserves the glory for building his team, so he pours the water on the ground as an offering to God.  How did that experience impact those three men?  We live in a day of celebrity leaders.  We live in a day when leaders pit their subordinates against each other and trust in organizations is dangerously low.  At the root of this is a lack of love which must begin in the senior leader of every organization.

I stand before you as a living example of this.  Had a leader not reached out to me with love in college (a theology professor) I would not have been this kind of leader.  After class one day I knocked on that professor's door.  When he opened the door he didn't know me.  I asked if he had ten minutes to spare to talk to me about how to build one of the churches he was just talking about.  If he had waved me off or handed me off to an intern, I'm pretty sure that would have extinguished the barely flickering flame God had put in me to start a church.  The professor asked me to lunch at his house.  Love changed me that day.  Dr. B. took me to lunch at his home and at the end of it said, "I'm happy to make myself available to help you in any way."  And that's the day Willow Creek was born. For 40 years Dr. B. has invested in me, served me, guided me, admonished me, and loved me sacrificially.  I wish every single leader had someone like him in your life.

This all starts with the senior leader in every organization.  The quality of your loving will set the tone for the whole organization.

5.  Sense of Meaning -- "Start with the Why" by Simon Sinek .  Every organization has the what (what do they do) and the how (the mode of doing it) but the huge disconnect is the why?  Why do we do what we do?  Every leader's title should be 'chief meaning officer'-- why should the worker stay loyal to your organization?

I want to have a heart-to-heart with each of you to ask about your "white hot why".  What is at the absolute core of why you do what you do?   You need to decide what is most important.  What is in your top box?   I'm seeking for clarity for each of you.  Your 'why' will either fuel you to heights as a leader or reveal that you need something new in your top box.   Starbucks' leader says, "We don't sell coffee; we provide a place for people to gather."  Rich Stearns, president of World Vision, used to be the CEO of Lenox and he needed something new in his top box and God prompted him to shift his 'why' to putting food on the plates of poor people.  That's the power of having the right thing in your top box.  So I ask you again--what is in your top box?  Do you know with blinding clarity?

My "white hot why"--warning--it's a little bit religious in nature.  (story about sharing with a man on an airplane)  God is perfect.  Who is the most perfect person you know?  Man replied, "Mother Teresa" and I said Mother Teresa would say she'd disappointed God.  So where are you on the 'goodness' ladder?  If God's perfect, you have a gap.  God sees your gap and loves you anyway.  God provided His Son, Jesus Christ and transferred your sins onto Jesus Christ.  He puts us with right standing with God.  This is available to EVERYONE.  You don't have to try to clean up your act.  This is something you cannot earn.  It's a gift from God.  The information on that little napkin I drew for that man blew his mind.  This message, when I first understood it as a 17-year-old, transformed my life and as I told people it transformed their lives.  So my "white hot why" is not money or pleasure; it's transformed lives.  When I came to that conclusion I knew I needed to start a church.  And my passion is stronger now than it was 40 years ago.

Life is too short to live with no "white hot why".  You must find yours and live it out.  You'll be more motivated to find your blind spots.  Your resourcefulness will ascend because you have to figure out how to get the toys over the mountain.  Your love will build because it will take total teamwork to follow your mission.

Leadership matters so much.  It matters in every organization.  It matters in life and it matters in death.  So I'm asking you to step it up--to find your "white hot why" and pursue it; to find your blind spots; to get more resourceful; to learn to love.  If you do the toys will get over the mountain and God will receive the glory.

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