Leadership Summit 2008 | BILL HYBELS: The High Drama of Decision Making

Posted on August 7, 2008


SESSION 1. Summit Page.

“We teach leadership, unapologetically from a Christian perspective. Leadership’s highest usage is not for money or power, but to advance the purposes of God in this world.”

“So much of leadership is about decision making, and it’s high-stakes. And it’s not for the faint of heart.”

HOW DOES A LEADER MAKE DECISION? (Cf. Judgement by Noel Tichy and Warren Bennis). There are a few questions that [Christian] leaders must ask when making a critical decision.

1. Does the Bible say anything about this?
2. What would smart advisers advise me to do? (Cf. Proverbs 14:11)
3. Ask the P|G|E question – Pains of past decisions | Gains | Experience. Add to the vault of wisdom by journaling.
4. The Spirit’s prompting. (Cf. Romans 8:6)

“Leaders cannot be decision adverse. And, leaders must take the responsibility for making the decision.”

If the decision turns out great, who do you thank? God/the Bible, advisers, your collective experience, and the Spirit. What if the decision turns out poor; who do you blame? No one. Take responsibility, and that brings clarity to the process of decision making and allows others to learn the lessons that need to be learned from the poor decisions.


Good leaders create axioms from these lessons, microwaved statements that encapsulate the principles from decisions made for future decisions to be made.

E.g. Abraham Lincoln’s axiom: The best way to destroy my enemy is to turn him into my friend.

Cf. The Powell Principles. E.g. Check your ego at the door. Promote a clash of ideas. Reward your best performers; get rid of non-performers.


Do you reflect on your own leadership so much that you’re creating your own axioms? And as much as others’ axioms are helpful, they will never be as powerful and effective as the ones you coin and own yourself.


Some of the axioms that I’ve been living by recently.

I work best when I know everything. As a leader I must have the right data to make the best decisions I possibly can. If a staff person is leaving information out of the loop, the effectiveness of my decision could be compromised.

I use email for information, never for relationships. There comes a time in some email exchanges, when you should just get up out of your chair and go and talk to the person, face to face. Communication experts have told us for years that very little is communicated through actual words. Why would we then relegate ourselves to a medium that eliminates the vast majority of what we want to communicate, especially when it comes to the ethics of love, care, compassion, etc.

I don’t manage people. This came out of reading Jim Collins’ Good To Great, and the axiom, Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats in the bus. So, if a person isn’t working out, I’m not fixing the person, I’m replacing them.

People learn through environments and experiences. As we strive for discipleship in our ministry, we’re not looking for superstar communicators that can eloquently entertain. We’re looking for learning results. So, we will create every possible environment or experience we can that promotes effective learning and discipleship, not just oratory.

Leverage. Just one of my favorite words that describes the ability to connect every present moment (good and bad) with a future [positive] result. Every camp, every concert, every moment can be leveraged for some future greatness. Take advantage of each moment, each event, each paradigm shift. Don’t settle for anything to just stand on its own. Create a community of movements within a community of people.

HYBELS: Describing multiple events in his life, Bill ends on the  axiom This is Church. I concur with, …and this is my life.