I had the opportunity to attend the first day of the Global Leadership Summit this year, and it was quite incredible. It was my first year attending the event at the Kentwood Community Church host site. I came expecting to learn a few things and left with a lot of inspiration. I would like to share some of the key takeaways from each of the four speakers I gleaned during this day. This will be a four part series over the next few days. I will start with Pastor Bill Hybels.
Bill is the founder and senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in the Chicago area. The Willow Creek Association that grew out of the church is responsible for organizing the summit every year. I have read one of Hybels’s books, Too Busy Not to Pray, so my expectation of his content was one of spiritual formation. I was not sure what to expect from him in terms of leadership wisdom. He definitely delivered though. His general theme for leadership was how to get someone from here, their current state, to there, a preferred state. He emphasized that this leader must be a guide. The leader should help his followers find their own way. It is not the leader’s responsibility to tell them the right way, but to facilitate an enviornment where they can discern the version of the right way that best fits their life.
Hybels spoke about four different lenses of leadership. The lenses were titled the passion lens, the shattered lens, the self-adjusting lens, and the rear-view lens.
Hybels said that passion is like protein for a leader. It is a source of energy that sustains and grows her vision over time. People crave a passionate leader to motivate them towards their goal. Hybels pointed out that a motivated team will outperform an unmotivated team by 40%.
Passion comes either from an individual’s dreams about a greater future or from their frustration about a current state. Hybels challenged us all as leaders by asking how full our passion bucket was. It is the leader’s job to keep their passion bucket full to ensure that she is leading well. It is not the job of the church, a board, family, or co-workers to fill the leader’s passion bucket.
Hybels gave two tips on how a leader can keep their passion bucket full. The first was to reflect and read passionate authors. I could say that listening to Hybels was a source of passion that filled my bucket as I was listening to him.
His second suggestion was to go to places that fill your soul. For Hybels, a place that he needed to go to fill his soul on one occasion happened to be in the middle east. Hybels was on a speaking tour and was beginning to feel drained. So he went to an area that was currently being devastated by war and conflict. He met a young boy and his family that was forced to flee their country because of the conflict. They were refugees. The boy’s family was able to find safety in a new home. The boy was even able to be enrolled in school. But the boy had a physical deformity that caused him to be teased and bullied in school. So the boy never went back to the school. This story broke Hybels’s heart and inspired him to do something about it. He used his resources to get the boy’s deformity fixed. After the boy healed from the surgery he was able to return to school without fear of being teased or bullied. Hybels acknowledged that this one act of kindness wasn’t going to change the world, but it did change this boys life, and more importantly it inspired Hybels to continue his work to build up spiritual leaders around the world.
The next lens was the shattered lens. This lens affects many people who have grown up around examples of poor leadership. Hybels shared how his leadership lens started out shattered because his father did not exemplify how to properly lead people. He talked about how his father would often take a worker who was being dishonest to the banana room (a temperature controlled, sound proof room where bananas were stored) to let the worker know how dissatisfied he was. When the worker left the banana room they walked out of the building with their head hung in shame and never returned to work. His father would walk out and give the rest of the factory floor a stern look as if saying, “Let this be an example.” Hybels father led by instilling a culture of fear. This culture obviously did not jive for Hybels as he was leading a growing church. After recognizing this he realized he needed to bring in outside help to repair his shattered lens.
The takeaway from the shattered lens is to know where my blindspots are and to seek guidance from someone else to fix those blindspots. I grew up with some shattered lenses. My parents divorced when I was young and suffered from alcoholism and addiction. My dad dealt with people by being agressive and my mom was somewhat passive. Because of this I have always been a little timid when it comes to dealing with people. The shattered lens from my dad always scared me so I clung to the shattered lens of my mom. Over the years though I have been trying to surround myself with mentors that have healthy lenses. I have come to be more assertive while still being kind and humble. I try to empathize with people and their concerns, but not at the cost of always sacfrificing my own concerns when they are valid. Healthy counsel can help repair a shattered pair of lenses.
The third pair of lenses is all about how to view performance matters when dealing with the people you lead. The first thing to remember is that people will model their behavior based on the actions of their leader. Hybels phrased this as, “Speed of the leader, speed of the team.” A leader can’t expect his team to move faster than he moves. A leader must set the example he expects from his team.
The next takeway I got from this lens is the importance of telling people how they are doing. Hybels said, “Everyone desperately wants to know how they’re doing.” This is so true. If there is anything that I feel is commonly missing from my professional development, it is having a good idea of how I am doing. But just like with the passion lens, I think this has to start with me. I can’t expect my leaders to always initiate an intentional feedback loop into our relationships. In the end, my performance always boils down to the efforts of one person. Me.
Everyone desperately wants to know how they’re doing
- Pastor Bill Hybels
- Willow Creek Church
It is my job to get with my leaders and make sure that clear goals and expectations are regularly communicated. It is also my job to ensure that accountability with my leaders is practiced. It is the leader’s job to facilitate professional growth by being involved with this conversation and ensuring the relationship is intentionally carried out according to the mutual expectations discussed.
Rear View Lens
The last lens is the rear view lens. This is the lens that we all must put on from time to time to reflect back on where we’ve been. If we never look back, we won’t know how we’re doing. We won’t be able to properly use the self-adjusting lens without the rear view lens. Hybels discusses the importance of asking, “What am I leaving behind?” This applies not only to worklife, but also homelife. There must be balance.
For those who feel hopeless; like they have already wasted their life by being a workaholic, Hybels stressed that while there are no do overs, there are makeovers. It is never too late to re-prioritize our lives. Hybels said that we need to flourish holistically. I need to be pouring just as much energy into developming my role as a husband and a father as I am into my role as a professional. Excelling in one area will not make up for floundering in the other.
Hybels ended his talk with two important statements for us all to remember.