Leadership Summit 2011 | Bill Hybels – Opening Session

Posted on August 11, 2011


“Whenever you see something going well – whenever light begins to chase back the darkness that threatens to engulf our world – look closely. There stands a leader who is holding that candle.”

— introduction —

“Swing hard or surrender your back.” | “Punch me in the face, I need it every 12 months.” | “Go big, or go to Canada.”

— live notes —

I’m going to ask 5 critical questions.

1 – “What is your current [leadership] challenge level at work?” Consider three tiers. The middle tier is “appropriately challenged.” The bottom tier are the “under-challenged.” The top tier is the “Dangerously Over-Challenged.” This is the tier that is over-stretched, too much, etc. Now, put an “x” on your vertical line on where you are.

1a – “Where do you think you do your absolute best work, as a leader?” Where do you think your best thoughts, pray your best prayers, come up with innovations…etc.? There is plenty of research to suggest that you do your best work when you are just above the middle tier, just above being “appropriately challenged.” Similar to working out, such as lifting weight. You can’t under stress it, and you can’t over stress it. You must appropriately work it, and then it will grow.

  • Leaders, if you’re living in the “dangerously over-challenged,” and at the top of that tier, you’re in trouble.
  • It is true, that stress will often lead to better performance. But stress over time will ultimately lead to crashing, and not only non-performance, but damaging and destructive performance.
  • Give this test to your organization and evaluate who / what departments, are “Dangerously Over Challenged.”
  • What do Under Challenged people in a department do? They leave. If you do this evaluation right, you may save people who are Dangerously Over Challenged, and you will keep from losing people that are Under Challenged.
  • I believe it’s possible to “over-rev” an organization. It’s also possible to “under-rev” it.

2 – “What is your plan for dealing with challenging people in your organization?” Who would the challenging people in your organization be? We do an evaluation called “the line exercise.” Draw a horizontal line. What if we had a 50% revenue drop, and we had to say good-bye to half the staff, who would you keep, and who would you lose? Who would you say good-bye to first. Draw a horizontal line, and line up your people on the line, and order them accordingly. When you get to the end of the line, people that you may let go first, you ask a few questions…

  • Are they performing correctly? Are they involved in the right initiatives? etc.
  • “I need to feed and develop fantastic people, to build a fantastic future, in service of a fantastic God.”

Now comes the pain.

  • What do you do with a person who has an attitude problem. How long will you let this person persist in your organization?
  • How do you handle “under performers?” How long do you live with someone who is no longer carrying their weight (“worthy of their hire”)?
  • The single toughest people challenge issue is when a staff member is fantastic, but the growth of the organization requires someone with greater capacity.
  • If you don’t deal with challenging people in your organization, you discourage and demotivate your best people.
  • Challenging people, deep down, are not really happy people. 99% of the time, after you deal with the issue, and they go off to a different job, they’ll call you “blessed.” Well…most of the time.
  • We hired http://www.bcwinstitute.com/. If you need help, turn to them.

3 – “Are you naming, facing, and resolving, the problems that exist in your organization?” First, you must be willing to call them “problems.” Look them straight in the eye and call them what they are.

Many are familiar with life-cycles that all organizations go through. First, accelerating, then booming, but soon after that decelerating, then if not attended to, taking.

4 – “When was the last time you re-examined the core of what your organization is all about?” The best leaders I know ask questions along the lines, “What business are we in?” “Are we clear about our core?” It is clear that the church is in the “life-transformation” business. We turn selfish, hateful, greedy, prejudiced people into giving, loving, generous, compassionate people. Sometimes the best of us can get a little fuzzy about the message that transformed us, and fuzzy about what that message actually is.

Draw a circle, and write in the top 5 words that best describe the “Good News” of Jesus Christ. I can’t tell you what our church’s five words are, because we’re still trying to agree on those words! Here’s what I (not speaking for the church) am working on.

  1. Love. It’s what distinguishes Christianity from every other religion.
  2. Evil. When a madman does target practice on kids, you tell me what other word describes that? The atrocities in the world.
  3. Rescue. I will make forgiveness available as a gift.
  4. Choice.
  5. Restoration/Restore.

Here’s what happens when you seek to understand the core of what the organization is all about. But as we had come to discuss this, the net effect has been for us to get “prouder” of this message, more confident in the declaration of it, and the execution of it.

5 – “Have you had your leadership bell rung recently?” Has any leadership book, talk, experience with God, circumstance, or crisis, rocked your leadership world recently? Most of us don’t learn unless we’ve been rocked in some way. Have you ever caught yourself making excuses rather than coming up with bold new solutions. Our job is to create an environment where we all come up with bold solutions to even the most stubborn problems. Your job is not to preside over something or even preserve something from its great demise. Your job is to move an organization “from here to there.”

Does God want to ring your bell? Tell me why your next five years couldn’t be your best five? Everyone would love it. So, it all comes down to you. How you finish will always be how you will be remembered. Don’t end it with a whimper.