By William Singleton

The following notes were captured from the keynote presentation by Bill Hybills, Senior Pastor at Willow Creek Community Church during the Global Leadership Summit.  In some cases I have expounded on some of the points discussed because of how deeply they resonate with me and where I am in my life.

Your leadership matters, taking the time to develop your leadership skills is critical for you and for those you lead.

  • We all have the capacity to lead; we must learn how to do it well. (Instinct is natural, proper execution is learned)
  • Leaders engage those they lead
  • Leaders move people from one place to another
  • A good leader recognizes people need to know how much you care before you tell them how much you know.

Several critical functions of leadership were discussed during the introduction, which are bulleted below:

  • Leaders demonstrate humility
  • Leaders are not afraid to ask themselves and have others ask them tough questions.
  • Humility is essential for good leadership
  • Leaders are constantly learning and achieving more
  • Leaders cast vision for their team
  • Leaders build teams and great teams always start with “who” before “what”.

The 5 Intangibles of Leadership – This was the heart of his presentation.  Good leaders will posses these qualities.  Good leaders who don’t possess these qualities will learn them.

1. Grit...Not hominy. Passion and perseverance, using up your effort to the end, not leaving any reserves in the tank. Play when hurt, play hard, play to win.  This is the stuff that makes for good leaders.

Think about The Little Engine That Could (a popular childhood story that has such lasting implications throughout our lives).  Against all odds that little train had purpose, passion and committed to a great vision (getting those toys to the kids on the other side of the hill). That little train had GRIT!

I think I Can, I think I Can, I think I Can up, the hill he went...... Hit the top and on the way down he said, "I thought I could, I thought I could."

You will get predictably more out the efforts you undertake when you, like the that little train, chant I think I can, I think I can.  Then the sweet release to come down that other side of that hill...I knew I could, I knew I could.

The kids over the mountain need those toys... What is your goal, what is driving your passion?  What’s on the other side of that mountain for you. Grit expects and demands difficulty.  Good leaders don’t just get one hill, they get many hills one after the next. Beware of ease.  You have to will yourself to task achievement both mentally and physically.  Push your ability on the job push, your body off the job.  Ease is the enemy of Grit. It's grit that gets the toys over the mountain!

2.  Self awareness (Discover your blind spots) – what’s keeping you from breaking free. Find out what is driving your decisions.  How does your past influence decisions you make today, particularly if your decisions don’t drive you toward great results.

Blind Spots- where are my blind spots.  You think you are great in certain areas but everyone knows the opposite.  All leaders have blind spots.  Unfortunately, you and I are blind to our blind spots! You need help to discover them.  Will you let those trusted few around you tell you where your blind spots are?  Once identified, you can place blind spots in your weakness category.  Weakness category – that list of attributes where you know you don’t excel.  Some you will work on to improve while others you will allow others to compensate. You must get input from others.  They must be candid and caring.  “Where do I suck that I don't know about.”  This is for your good as a leader.  Everyone will win as you become more aware.  The toys have to get over the mountain

3.  Resourceful.  Finding ways to get things done.Are you curious, a lover of learning and flexible?  If so you most likely are a resourceful leader.

Read the biography of the Wright brothers. Failure after failure after failure until you figure it out. Single focus on something that needs to be done but isn't easy.  They didn’t do what they did for money or fame; they did it because they believed it could be done.

What are real problems in your organization? What needs to be done that won’t promise you tenure or an office with a door or a window? Do it: and remember you are that leaders that doesn’t need to do it on your own.  You have people around you waiting for you to release their grit on your greatest challenge.  Let them help!

4.  Self sacrificing love...The exploits of King David's mighty men of valor are captured in the Bibles 2nd book of Samuel chapter 23.  David sees that these men aren’t following him because David is a great man or leader, they are following him because they share the same hunger and passion.  And David realizes that the things that he couldn't do on his own, together with these men they accomplish amazing things.  David’s response is to love these men, the men he knows God has placed around him.  Invest in those around you, honor them for they will be to you all that your heart desires.  They are your gift.  You will never get to those “kids” by yourself.  Love those people that help you get there. Forget the professional posture that we easily put on.  Love the people that are helping you succeed.  Love the people that got you there.  King David reminds us to love the God that put us where we are.  “This is not the picture of the world’s leadership. “

Where is the love from those that lead you? That’s not the right question to ask.  If you don't see it then you better bring it because nothing else matters.  Because love never fails; it always makes things better.  Who loved you on your way up, who took the time to make you feel valued, who propelled you to do more and love more and be better?  People matter most (my favorite quote).  What will you do with them?  Love them over and over and over again.  As a leader, you have to be okay with being vulnerable. You will find success at a level you have never experienced when you can say goodbye to the ego that would keep you isolated and afraid to those people around you.

5.  Create a sense of meaning.  What is your why.  What is in your top box, that thing that drives you? Do you need to reevaluate what's in your top box? Your “why” may be greater and bigger than the thing you do or the product you make.  Your why can change over time and that's okay.  What drives you to get better and better

I’ve discovered my why and it’s about you.  How can I help make you better....that is my why!

A fuzzy why, a limp why, someone else's why, no why at all, no worries.  Take the time to discover your why.  It will make all the difference in the world.

Your leadership matters.  Across industry across disciplines across religion across races, across genders and generations, “your” leadership matters!  There are so many “kids waiting on the other side of that mountain” for their toys.

AuthorWilliam Singleton