Nothing has challenged my thinking and prompted growth in my life more than the Global Leadership Summit. I have been blessed to attend the Summit at Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois each of the last five summers and learn from some of the greatest leadership minds on the planet.
In my Summit experiences I have been able to glean from people like Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Tony Blair, Jimmy Carter and Jack Welch. Even in preparing to write this blog post, I am humbled at the learning opportunities I have been provided over the last five years.
Maybe more amazing than the faculty on hand each year is the gathering of 10,000 leaders who are all in attendance to learn. These leaders include CEOs, pastors, non-profit presidents, financial gurus, and even small-college baseball coaches. Bill Hybels, the founding and senior pastor at Willow Creek, kicks off the Summit each year with an outstanding sermon/lesson. One of Hybels’ favorite sentences to utter at the there is, “Everybody wins when a leader gets better.” Surrounded by leaders from around the world who are yearning to get better is quite an amazing experience.
This year’s Summit began with Bill Hybels preaching about courageous leadership from the book of Joshua. Hybels built a foundation for the remainder of the event by speaking about the importance of having the courage to be vulnerable. Everyone on your team or organization knows exactly what the state of your organization or team is. Without the courage to “dig deeper,” a leader will be the last person to know the culture and what is really going on.
In our current culture, Hybels stated that people are joining organizations but leaving managers. Employees or team members “buy-in” to a vision but become disenfranchised with poor managers and leaders. When leaders fail to understand the culture of their respective organizations or manage their respective teams poorly, some of the best and brightest will seek a new culture elsewhere.
Hybels spoke of identifying which team members are “culture builders” and do whatever it takes to keep them. “Culture builders” are those that buy-in to the mission and encourage others. Identify your “culture busters” and attempt to get them to change. “Culture busters” are negative, inattentive, and controlling. If they can’t or won’t change, then you must get rid of them. The overall message was to be proactive in discovering what is going on in every part of your organization and what the team members think of the culture. Have the courage to be vulnerable and survey your team in order to find out what they think of the organization and how it is being run. Don’t be the last to know what is going on in your organization.
This year’s Global Leadership Summit has encouraged me to courageously live outside of my comfort zone and seek input from others in order to understand the areas I need growth. I have been asking a lot more questions surrounding culture and attitude than I did previously. I have also spent time evaluating myself and am striving to manage my time better in regards to our mission and values. Finally, I am more cognizant of my influence, both positively and negatively, on the culture of our team and university and more careful in how I utilize it.