Global Leadership Summit 2018 | Live Notes & Concluding Thoughts & Reflections

[The following are notes taken live. I take responsibility for any misquotes or lacunae.]

Tom DeVries Opening

SESSION 1: Craig Groeschel

Leadership is about trust and influence. You. Are. A. Leader.

[Craig Groeschel then addresses that “he is not Bill Hybels.”]

I just have to say as a friend to this church and this organization, like you, I am grieving deeply. The realm of emotions I’ve gone through… Long before I’m a “leader,” I’m a pastor. I’m a husband, and a father. And I’m a brother to a little sister, who suffered sexual abuse. So I have deep compassion for everyone, everyone involved.

We are entrusted with power, and we must always and only steward that power for the good of others. Any misuse of power is sinful, hurtful, and reprehensible.

[via: see The Power Paradox]

So, why am I here? We know and believe that we can make a difference. We must make a difference. With all the problems we’re facing today, we must stop making excuses, and we must start making things right.


“How to become a leader everyone loves to follow.” There is a difference between a leader that is popular and a leader that is respected.

If you were under a leader that you loved, you felt three things:

  1. You always feel valued. There is someone that cares for me on this team.
  2. You feel inspired. You know you can make a difference.
  3. You feel empowered. There is someone that trusts you, believes in you, and that you can influence those around you.

Three things:

1. We need a heart to care. You will never be a leader that others love to follow, if you aren’t a leader that truly loves people. Four incredibly important words: “I notice. You matter.”

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

2. We need to have a passion to inspire. Notice I didn’t say “motivate.” Instead of pushing someone, it’s more a “pulling” out of them what is already inside of them.

Employees who describe themselves as “inspired” are twice as productive as those who describe themselves as “…”

All you need is one or two developed strengths to inspire. [cf. Bain Inspirational Leadership System]

3. You need a willingness to empower. Not “command and control.” You can have control, or you can have growth, but you cannot have growth. You can control everything around you, or you can trust the great people around you.

If you delegate tasks, you create followers. If you delegate authority, you create leaders.

The better you become as a leader, the fewer decisions that you make.

[via: And, the more impact those decisions have, the more powerful your words.]

The best way to find out if you can trust someone is to trust them. “But what if I don’t trust them.” If you don’t trust your team, you’re either too controlling, or you have the wrong people. Either way, the problem is yours to solve.

We feel the pressure to be strong and right. And that’s not what people are looking for. People are looking for honesty, and integrity.

You don’t always have to have it right. You have to be real.

—video vignette— and Judge Paul M Herbert

SESSION 1: Angela Ahrendts

When I joined Apple, it was a “calling.” It was to unite 66,000 people around a higher purpose.

Steve told team members, they were never allowed to sell. Their job was to “enrich lives” through education. He said, it’s not about technology, but it’s about technology married with liberal arts.

Couple things I always look for in people:

  • “Me” or “We” kind of person.
  • Not just IQ (I presume they’re already intelligent if they’re sitting in front of me). So, it’s about EQ.
  • Who are they? We’re building teams and cultures. It’s about hiring people that fit into the team that you’re building.
  • Are they more “yesterday,” “today,” or “tomorrow” people?

What about intuition?

To me, brands are even bigger than cultures. It’s so much bigger than any individual people, and makes an impact far beyond us.

Why are you doing it? What is the deeper purpose? How?

[via: see Dov Seidman’s How]

Maybe our job was to encourage human connection, inspire human learning, and unlock creativity. “Do you feel that we are enriching your lives?”

“I can teach you anything, but I can’t teach you to care.” If you care, don’t talk above them, talk to them. Connecting, consistency, and “thank you.”

I am a witness that my life has not been my own since I was 16, and I’m blessed beyond…I wish others would take full advantage of it.

SESSION 2: Juliet Funt (replacing Daniel Pink)

“Casualness” makes me “comfortable.” My mission today is to pull you out of casualness and into action.

Conformity, Compulsivity and Control.

“Symmetric inertia”: nobody changes until everyone changes, so,… nobody changes.

This social conformity has a name, “mimicry.” So, what is a leader to do?

The WhiteSpace 50/50 Rule: Anything that bothers you at work is 50% your fault until you ask for what you want.

If only one person in an organization does an action of non-conformity, it can have an 80% impact on the organization.

2D v. 3D communication. 2D is simple content, yes/no. 3D is rich and nuanced. 2D includes texting and chatting. 3D includes meetings and phones and where we are together. If you push 2D content into a 3D context you lose time. If you push 3D content into a 2D context you lose meaning.

The Yellow List: A document you keep for each person you work with. Ask, does this need to be send/ask right now? If not, put it on the yellow list. When it gets filled, then you call for a quick meeting.

Second-Tier Delegation:

White Space Refusal Strategies:

SESSION 2: T.D. Jakes

I want to talk to the people who “don’t have enough” to get “there;” enough time, energy, motivation, … life.

A vision should be a little bit annoying and aggravating. A vision should be “achievable” without being “believable.” It should be challenging.

If you’re not considering the environment, you may not succeed. If you have the right plane, but not the right wind, than you’re not going to soar. Sometimes, it’s just about the “right wind.” If you do the right thing in the right wind, then you can spread your wings and absolutely soar.

So much of what we learn is about winning. But what stimulates growth is losing.

Eagletes don’t learn how to fly by flying. They learn to fly by falling. What did you learn from your last failure? And how did it prepare you to soar?

SESSION 2: Strive Masiyiwa

Incredible story. cf. Wikipedia page; Forbes; Econet; Stanford Graduate School of Business; Fortune; etc., …

SESSION 3: Carla Harris

Your authenticity is your distinct competitive advantage. No one can be you the way that you can be you. And when you bring your authentic self, you will motivate and inspire others to bring their authentic selves to the table.

The price of inaction is greater than the price of making a mistake. (cf. Meg Whitman)

SESSION 3: Danny Meyer

cf. Union Square Hospitality GroupSetting The Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business

Six emotional skills:

  1. Someone who is kindhearted and optimistic. We believe hope is at the root of the word “hospitality.” “Kind eyes.”
  2. Curiosity. We want to work with people who look at everyday as a new opportunity to learn. “Finished books don’t do well with us.”
  3. Work ethic.
  4. Empathy. What wake am I leaving in my path?
  5. Self-awareness.
  6. Integrity. The judgment to do the right thing, even when no one is looking.

SESSION 4: Danielle Strickland

Relationships between men and women are eroding. Global movements of truth-telling on harassment are reaching a tipping point. And thank God.

But our reaction to chaos is to hide and blame. But transformational leaders will recognize that this moment, full of discovery and opportunity, will create a better world.

Understand the World. Express Compassion.

We’re all after a better story. This is my better story: Women and Men are better together. We desire this deep inside of us, because we’re designed for this.

1. We have to believe that it is possible. Gender equality is a necessary foundation for a peaceful, thriving, and sustainable world. So, how can we believe in this if it seems so impossible. To refuse to believe is to believe in despair.

2. Do not be afraid. 2/3rds of women don’t believe that gender equality is possible. The enemy is always fear. How do men and women work together without fear? The two concepts are “difference” and “mutuality.” Part of our humanity is difference. When we over-emphasize one difference over the other, it leads to disparity, and tokenism. “‘Mutuality’ is the sharing of feelings, actions, and relationship between people.”

Power & Sex.

To the women who have experienced abuse, we hear you, and thank you for speaking up.

Objectivization is the opposite of mutuality.

Male privilege is a misuse of power. Are women invited to participate in your decisions.

Literally the definition of poverty is disempowerment. Great leaders use their power to empower other people. If power is tool, how are you using yours?

3. Start now, and start with you.

I would do anything for the perfect body, except diet and exercise. – Jay Leno

4. Never, ever, ever,…give up.

SESSION 4: John Maxwell

What all leaders have in common:

All leaders see more than others see, and see before others see.

These days, fast is faster, and forward is shorter. We moved from management to leadership books in the 90s because we realized that we can’t manage speed.

How can I increase my “More & Before?”

1. Know that there is more “more” and more “before” out there. In other words, think abundance, of starting to dream big; think creativity and flexibility.

2. Develop a process for finding more “more” and more “before.” Test, fail, learn, improve, re-enter. And the cycle never stops.

3. Put yourself in places with people who will inspire you to see more “more” and more “before.”

4. Intentionally grow everyday, so you will have capacity for more “more” and more “before.”

My father is going to live until he dies and not get the two confused.

5. Always have a vision gap that requires you to need more “more” and more “before.”

SESSION 5: Rasmus Ankersen

While we talk a lot about success, we rarely talk about the risks that come with success that lead to downfall.

Humans are living longer and longer, but organizations are living shorter and shorter lives.

When an organization becomes successful, it is no longer fighting its competitors. It begins fighting itself.

OUTCOME BIAS: we assume that good results always come from superior performance [and good decisions].

Success turns luck into genius.

The less goals in a game, the more impact of little events. (Consider fútbol vs. basketball)

When we fail, we ask questions. When we succeed, we don’t ask the same questions. How many leaders confuse good leadership with good market conditions?

To stay relevant, successful organizations should think more like good gamblers. Ask the questions of a gambler; Why were we successful, Is it possible our lead table actually lied; Perhaps someone cheated?

Never treat success blindly, but rather treat success in the same way you would treat failure.

Comfort as the inverse of Improvement.

So, which industry are we actually competing in? [Lego CEO] Are you the fat cat that has reached the top of the mountain, or are you the little entrepreneur that is just beginning? Leaders frame that reference.

SESSION 5: David Livermore

Cultural Intelligence is just the ability to work with different people of different backgrounds.

The number one characteristic that defines the culturally intelligent leader is their curiosity, what we call their CQ drive. Rather than trying to evaluate whether or not I or you are right or wrong, but rather to participate in “perspective taking.” We do this when we buy a gift for someone.

We are in desperate need of culturally intelligent leaders who will lean in and say, “help me understand.”

The second characteristic is high CQ drive and knowledge. [Consider taking a cultural values profile.]

This is true even when it comes to theology. Consider The Prodigal Son inquiry around the globe of different pastors. THIS IS WHY having a diverse set of leaders around you, to surround yourself with a cacophony of voices.

The third characteristic is a CQ strategy, the ability to channel their curiosity and understanding into something that works.

The fourth characteristic is high CQ action.

Is the group that you’re working with a tight or loose culture? Is there “one right way” (tight), if you’re unable to adapt to their norms, that would be offensive. Or, is it open to various perspective and approaches?

Everyone can improve their cultural intelligence.

SESSION 5: Sheila Heen

Think about the difficult conversations in your life. We have to look beyond what we’re actually saying to each other. We have to look beyond. We have to look at our “internal voice.”

Identity is the story we tell about who we are.

What is the difference between blame and joint contribution? Blame tends to look at who is most at fault. Joint contribution assumes everyone involved had some role to play. Blame tends to assume someone did something wrong, that they acted inappropriately. Joint contribution presumes that people acted in ways that were actually acceptable, but they just didn’t work out.

SESSION 6: Erwin McManus

We are all haunted, that we will never live up to the full realization of our potential. How do I break out of the moment of mediocrity and compels others to be the very best of themselves.

It’s amazing to me how many people need permission to get started, but nobody needs permission to quit.

How many times in our lives have we felt that we failed, but in reality, we quit.

Most of us don’t live as if this day has infinite value. You don’t get this day back. This is a moment you need to treat as sacred and essential. You need to live each day as if it were the last day of your life.

Death is not supposed to be in front of you. Death is supposed to be behind you.

Your freedom is on the other side of your fear. So lean in, and crash right through it. What you fear establishes the boundaries of your freedom.

Your greatness is on the other side of your pain. We live in a time of a “mythology of greatness.” We have a generation that sees people at the height of greatness, but doesn’t see the pain and struggle and discipline that led to that greatness.

The only proof of life after death is life before death.

If Jesus communicates anything to us, pain is not the end of the story. For Jesus, His greatness was on the other side of the pain. God did not come to give us a way out of the pain, but to give us a way through the pain.

I wanted God to meet me in my faith, but He met me in my faithfulness.

SESSION 7: Nthabiseng Legoete

cf. Quali Health;

SESSION 7: Simon Sinek

America actually won most of the battles of the Vietnam War. Which raises a question. How do you win virtually every battle, and yet still lose the war?

cf. Finite and Infinite Games by James Carse

When you pit finite player with a finite player, the game is stable. When you pit an infinite player with an infinite player, the game is stable. Problems arise, however, when you pit a finite player with an infinite player. And a finite player will always find themselves in a quagmire. This is what happened in the Vietnam War.

We are surrounded by infinite games. There’s no such thing as winning your business, winning your career, winning your life. The problem, is we only know how to play in finite games. The problem is, there is no such thing.

In an infinite game, there is no winning. There is only “ahead” and “behind,” and the only competition, is, yourself. How do we make ourselves better? There is no being #1, no “best,” and no “winning.”

If leading in an infinite game is different than leading in a finite game, then how do you lead in an infinite game? You have to have five things, and all five things:

  1. Just Cause
  2. Trusting Teams
  3. A Worthy Rival
  4. Existential Flexibility
  5. The Courage To Lead

Advancing a Just Cause means advancing something that is so deeply believed in, that you sacrifice virtually everything else. The “cause” is infinite. You’ll never actually get there, and you will die continually pursuing it. Does your organization have a cause so just that others would be willing to sacrifice for it?

a. It has to be in the affirmative. It cannot be against something, it has to be for something.
b. It has to be resilient.
c. It has to be inclusive. It has to serve as an invitation for anyone to contribute. There is a place for others “to play.”
c. It has to be service-oriented. That means the primary benefit of anyone’s contribution has to go to others, than the contributor. It has to flow down-stream. The primary benefit of leadership should go to someone other than the leader. If it goes to the leader, then it is a failure of a just cause. The greatest organizations have the purpose to serve, and any benefit we derive is secondary.

Trusting Teams. Leaders are responsible for creating an environment in which they can be themselves. “How do we get the best out of our people?” Wrong question. People are not towels which you wring out. The real question is, How do I create an environment in which my people can work at their natural best?

I could tell you what good leadership looks like, but I can easily tell you what bad leadership feels like.

We don’t trust people to follow the rules. We punish people when they don’t.

The infinite game is bigger than reaching the goal. It’s about sustaining the resources to stay in the game.

Worthy Rival. Someone who exists to make me better. I’m not competing against the rival, I’m competing with them.

If we’re obsessed with winning, we’ll do everything to trip our competitors. There are different kind of rivals. Tactical, and Existential.

Existential Flexibility. You may never have to go through this, and it may only happen once in your organization.

Better we blow up our own company, than someone else – Steve Jobs upon visiting Xerox park and learning about GUI.

Courage To Lead. The pressures around us are overwhelming to conform, to win, to be number one, etc…. It takes tremendous courage to care about people, to make massive change that is the right thing for the long-term.

What does it mean to live an infinite life?

Every single one of us has a choice to live by finite rules, or by the infinite game. The finite game drives us to “win,” and get ahead. And when you die, you just die. Or, we can chose to live our lives the way infinite games exist, that we literally live on forever, because of the lives we impact with the life we live.

SESSION 7: Craig Groeschel

I want to talk to you about Participatory Leadership. How do we look forward and anticipate what is coming?

The difference between a good leader and a great leader is one who learns to anticipate rather than react.

The Curse of Confidence

  • Find it difficult to receive feedback.
  • Often answer more questions than they’re asking.
  • Assume too much and stop innovating.

Three D’s of Anticipatory Leadership

  • Develop situational awareness.
  • Discern
  • Disrupt

Reference The Dunning-Kruger Effect

If you don’t know why something is working when it is, you won’t know how to fix it when it’s not. – Andy Stanley

“The person who knows ‘how’ will always have a job. The person who knows ‘why’ will always be his boss.” – Diane Ravitch

  • Embody Healthy Skepticism.
  • Lead with Bold Optimism.

Your greatest ideas are often born in the midst of the biggest problems. Limitation is the breeding ground for Innovation.

Innovation is seeing what everybody else sees and thinking what nobody else thought. – Dr. Albert Szent-Gyorgy

—Concluding Thoughts & Reflections—

This year’s GLS was unfortunately covered in the dark cloud of scandal and controversy. However, regardless of the published news articles, the open letters, and the public relations fall out, much of the Summit continued on as “normal.” With some deference to the “elephant in the room”–as it has been described–the vast majority of the Summit completely ignored and glossed over the organization’s turmoil in the wake of the scandal. This was paradoxically positive and unfortunate, and as is the way I normally process challenges such as this, I see a tension that needs to be managed rather than an ethic that needs to be explicit. Here are a few areas for which I see this tension play out.

“Moving on” is both grounding and dismissive.

Given the principle, “that which you give attention, you give power,” it is understandable why the Willow Creek Association (WCA) would not want to spend much time on the recent series of events. Making an upfront statement at the beginning was, eh, adequate, but it ultimately accomplished the goal of simply “doing what was necessary,” enough to move forward. In addition, you’ve got several hundreds of thousands of people showing up, and they “paid for a product,” and it is important to deliver.

However, the juxtaposition of the Summit–an organization predicated on focused and committed leadership–with “moving on,” makes this particular circumstance disheartening. Egregious sins and improprieties were committed, not just by the now-fallen leader, but also by the systems and structures that surrounded him. To not acknowledge those sins in full, is to neglect the ethics underlying the premise of the entire endeavor. You can even hear this disdain voiced in the opening video clip (specifically at minutes 1:45 and 2:53), as well as in the comments.

Which leads to the second tension:

Credibility is your best asset and your worst enemy.

Leadership gurus James Kouzes and Barry Posner literally wrote the book on Credibility. Credibility is the foundation of trusting relationships, the core of leadership. The WCA has built, over the years, tremendous credibility in their presentations, in the quality of their content, in their posture of “we-practice-what-we-preach.” And their posture today, in my opinion, was in line with an attempt to continue to be credible, as DeVries declared that they’re seeking counsel, and are pursuing more ways in which “gender and power inequality and dynamics” can be address in the church and the marketplace. That kind of response is sensibly aligned with the WCA’s posture towards “improvement,” and “getting better.” It is the “play,” that they know well.

But in this circumstance, attempting to lean in to maintaining credibility is the very means by which they continued to lose it. Why? Because as Kouzes and Posner cite in their book,

“A failure of honesty poisons the team, damages the trust between people, and breaks down team cohesion. Besides, nobody wants to follow a leader who is not honest.” – Anand Reddy, project manager at Intel

As has been pointed out by others, the statements put out by the WCA, in addition to DeVries’s opening statement at the Summit have not been completely honest. They have been attempts to deflect the failures of the organization to what seem to be “improved ministry objectives,” such as developing an emphasis on “how men and women work together in professional environments.” This is completely inadequate. Here are the things not addressed in the WCA response to all of this:

  • The public dishonesty by an individual.
  • The system’s default alignment with that individual.
  • The absence of any confession of sin by their leader.
  • The dehumanizing counter-accusations publicly stated against the victims who came forward.
  • The misuse and abuse of power, enabled by the boards.
  • The failure to substantiate appropriate systems and processes of accountability.

This is not an issue of “gender dynamics in the workplace.” This is about abuse of power, and the protecting of those systems of power for the sake of the reputation of the organization and individuals within it. The great catch-22 is that you must be willing to publicly state that you lost all credibility, in order for you to begin the work at rebuilding credibility.

Which leads to a third tension, and a really complicated question:

Attending the Summit can be both hurtful and redemptive.

It is understandable why so many sites and registrants decided not to attend this year’s event. One’s presence can easily be seen as tacit support and even perhaps endorsement. Bowing out is completely reasonable, as to not participate or sanction the sins of the organization.

And yet, as Craig Groeschel attempted to communicate in his opening talk, power must still be stewarded well, and there is still a difference that can be made. And ultimately, we do hope for, work for, and still believe in redemption, for individuals, and organizations. While there is no “answer,” one must be willing to embrace and wrestle with the question, Where do we begin to make things right?

In conclusion…

I’m still glad I went. I always learn, and this year, learned more in an area I was not expecting. The sessions by Rasmus Ankersen, David Livermore, Erwin McManus, and Simon Sinek, were worth the price of admission. And I  am hopeful that the WCA will continue to learn to lead themselves well, and also be redeemed by “the price of admission.”

About VIA

One comment

  1. William Miller

    Who was the artist that sang “clean “?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: