Willow Creek Leadership Summit - Session 1 - Bill Hybels - Hard Fought Leadership Lesson

1st Lesson: All Leadership is Spiritual. - having a direct influence on the emotions, mind, and spirit of others. Leaders see the vision before others can see it.

If we’re not careful the condition of our team becomes of secondary importance as we are consumed with mission/vision achievement.

Leaders with the highest level of vision often have the lowest level of awareness of the condition of their team.

Instead of asking the do I care too much about the vision question, we decide that the team doesn’t care enough.

At this point the team becomes expendable and interchangeable.

(Bill shared from his church’s experience of listening to his staff) - “I love our church, but I feel like a grunt” - Grunts are expendable, a cog in a wheel, and lowly valued. - "My biggest achievement in ministry is the transforming of our culture."


1. Used an outside objective firm to survey out team and process the results (The Best Christian Workplace) - They benchmarked our engagement levels against other similar orgs.

2. Me and my executive team really had to own the process. - Your culture will only be as healthy as the senior leader wants it to be. - Only the Senior leader can bring about the change needed to move this transition forward.

3. We got serious about training everyone on our staff who managed employees. - I think it should be illegal for certain people to manage people. - People join organizations, they leave managers/people.

4. We raised the level of candor in our annual performance reviews. - Sharing the final 10% - The kindest form of management is the truth. - We added three words to our review: Start, Stop, Continue  Meeting Template: 3M’s Move, Modify, and Motivate - Start by framing the conversation about what you’re trying to move ahead. - Modify what isn’t working. - Motivate your team at the end of the meeting.

5. A ruthless commitment to resolving relational conflict regardless of how scary it feels. - “Reconcile” book by Lederach - Conflict is the opportunity to strengthen a relationship instead of a step in relational destruction. - The rift is the opportunity to come to new levels of understanding and relational strength.

2nd Lesson: Great Leadership is by Definition Relentlessly Developmental

Top Five Ways to Develop Emerging Leaders

1. Put them in high challenge roles.

2. Assign them to a short term task force.

3. Real time feedback.

4. Coaching and mentoring

5. Classroom courses and seminars

- I want to talk about #2…”Assigning them to short term task forces.”

Five criteria 

1. Success or failure must both be possible.

2. The emerging leader must take full charge.

3. Must work with wide variety of people.

4. Must involve real pressure and a deadline.

5. The end product must be evaluated by a senior leader.

- You’re looking for how “resourceful” they are… - Resourcefulness is the most important tool in a leaders skill-set. My dad taught me resourcefulness with two phrases “figure it out” and “don’t call me” - You have to ascertain how they go about figuring out what to do when they don’t know what to do.

“When is the last time you took the time to assign an emerging leader to a short term task force project with a pass fail outcome?”

3rd Lesson: Finding and Developing Leaders with a Legacy Mindset

John 10: Jesus parable on shepherds (2 types: Hirelings & Owners) - Hirelings: They don’t care about your sheep, They are there short-term, They will risk nothing for your sheep. - Owners: Care about the sheep, Have a long-term view, They will lay down their life for the sheep.

Mastering this skill can save an organization years of heart-ache

The average tenure of current CEO’s is 4 1/2 years.

In the church world we see hireling types, short-termers in our organization.

They don’t care enough, they won’t be around long enough or sacrifice enough to build long-term organizations.

I’m looking for legacy leaders who will fix an organization by riding out rough patches, address the long term economic viability of the organization, and invest in leadership development.

Ladder Climbers are focused on self-advancement, self-preservation, and self-fulfillment

Legacy Leaders leave something lasting behind when they leave.

ILLUST: HIS DAD’S DASH AND LEGACY - BOAT (worth 10's of K$ then... worth $1 now) - LAND (camp where dads and kids connect for 4 days)

“The grander the vision, the greater the price tag”

- Don’t be surprised when grand visions get costly and complicated.

Grand visions require developing ENDURANCE STRATEGIES  - I’ve had to retool my endurance strategies three times in the past 20 years. 1st - Vacation with family would replenish me. 2nd - With three grandkids they no longer replenished me. (I had to develop solitude vacations…it’s hard to hear God at Mach 2) 3rd - I’ve built solitude breaks into my schedule.