2015 GLS Session 1: Bill Hybels

Live blog from the annual Global Leadership Summit.  #GLS  Quick bullet point summaries of each talk.  My comments in italics.  

Bill opened with a brief recounting of the birth of Willow Creek Church.  Amazing, that 40 years ago he almost singlehandedly launch a movement that gives tremendous concern to the perspective of the unchurched person.

The Intangibles of Leadership.

1. Grit.

  • Grit is Unrelenting long term tenacity.  Passion and perseverance combined.
  • Grit assessment test available at willowcreek.com/survey.  How gritty are you?  Take the assessment and compare with your friends.  (Hybels is always so competitive!).  
  • The arch enemy of grit is ease.  If you were raised without pressure or challenge, your grit factor may be low.  Parents, make sure your kids face long term challenge to develop grit in them.
  • Grow grit by pushing yourself physically.   Most elite leaders push themselves physically to develop their grit.  Hybels shares a litany of world famous leaders who have a regular physical regime.
  • Grow grit by delivering more than the required result on an assignment.  Over deliver every time to develop grit.
  • Grow grit by reading biographies of people who have grit.  Shackleton’s Journey, anyone?  

2. Self Awareness

  • ‘Who are you trying to impress?’  What is driving your destructive behavior? Hybels is telling case study stories connecting childhood experiences to current destructive behaviors.
  • Hybels, ‘when you read about a catastrophe or meltdown in an organization, you can often trace it back to the leader sho hasn’t done the difficult work of self awareness.’
  • Blind spots, ‘something a leader thinks she or he is great at, but everyone else knows this isn’t true.’
  • Loniger Group claims that on average every leader has 3.4 blindspots.
  • Hybels: I’ve always believed I am cool under pressure and I thought everyone knew that.  During an era of heavy pressure, a colleague said, ‘you don’t even know that you make all of us crazy when you’re stressed out.  Just because you get on a crazy train during those times, doesn’t mean the rest of us have to ride on the train with you.’  Hybels had no idea he did that.  Hybels checked with a trusted friend, ‘when you overwork, you’re not happy until everyone around you is overworking too.’
  • Lightbulb moment for Hybels when he saw a colleague not working hard, ‘that guy ought to be as miserable as I am right now.’

I have utmost appreciation for Bill Hybels as an example of life long learning.  The older he gets, the more I like him, because of how open he is with his mistakes and areas of growth.  

  • Self awareness moves it from ‘blind spot’ to ‘weakness.’  I like that Hybels doesn’t claim that self awareness makes a problem goes away.  
  • ‘Line up all your current and past spouses and mothers in law and ask them your blindspots.’  LOL!
  • Growth in self awareness demands input from others.  Colleagues, supervisors, friends, family, coaches and counsellors all help identify blind spots.  ‘Give me the last 2 percent of truth.’

3. Resourcefulness

  • Learning agility.  Quick learners, enthusiastic experimenters.  Organizations that grow the skill of resourcefulness are the most powerful.
  • In a rapidly changing world, leaders are thrust into environments where they don’t know what to do.  Resourcefulness helps you figure out what to do when you don’t know what to do.
  • Wright Brother had a near addiction to learning. Resourceful people figure it out.  Seems to me they are an example of grit as well.
  • Growing in resourcefulness:  out yourself in situations that are confused, chaotic and broken.

4. Self Sacrificing Love

  • David and his private militia.  The Bible describes them as a less than ideal group of folks.  ‘Oh that I could drink water from the well at the Bethlehem gate.’ His top leaders went at risk of their lives to get it for them.  He poured it on the ground, recognizing that his love for them had built loyalty in them.
  • God: ‘David, I want you to love these guys as I have loved you.’
  • Vision, strategy, problem solving is NOT the core of the core of leadership.  It is self sacrificing love.  1 cor 8.
  • Love never leaves a heart the way it found it.  Great quote!
  • We live in a day of celebrity leaders with narcissistic blood flowing through their veins.  Trust is low, cynicism is high.  At the root: a lack of self sacrificing love.

Hybels recounting of his first encounter with Gilbert Bilezekian is a chilling reminder of the power of 10 minutes.  He draws a straight line between that initial meeting and all that Willow Creek has become.  His gives me pause to be more aware of the power of a moment and how God uses moments.  The power of them is an inverse relationship to the time they take.  

  • Beautiful moment when Hybels honors Dr B and has him stand.  Both Hybels and John Ortberg speak powerfully of Dr B’s mentoring of them.

5. A Sense of Meaning.

  • Simon Sinek:  the what, the how, the why.  Most organizations understands the what and the how.  The disconnect is the why.  Why are we doing what we do?
  • Jack and Susie Welch: change everyone’s title to ‘Chief Meaning Officer.’
  • Develop a white hot why.  What is at the absolute core of why you do what you do?
  • What is in your top box?  Not what it should be, what but is it?  It may be time to put something new in your top box.

Hybels is brilliant and sharing the gospel at GLS – showing why God and people who don’t know God is his white hot why.  I love learning from him on how he engages people who think they are fine with God.  I love how he presents the gospel by letting us overhear his story of sharing the gospel.  

  • Pope Francis upon discovering that he is the new pope: I am a very sinful man who God has shown mercy to.

Great session.  Made me think of many great leaders around here who embody these traits.  

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