Top 3 Takeaways from the 2015 Global Leadership Summit
“Everyone wins when a leader gets better,” Bill Hybels. This is the rallying cry at the annual Global Leadership Summit, a two-day telecast event at Chicago’s Willow Creek Campus. Every year, Willow brings in leadership experts, amazing pastors, and trailblazers in leadership development to share their knowledge. It’s a great experience—I’ve gone for more than three years and I’ve always learned so much each time.
Now, immediately following each year’s event, I like to take time to process and identify my Top 3 takeaways from the conference. I thought I’d share them with you in the hope that you can also glean some wisdom from the things I learned.
So here they are: my Top 3 takeaways from the 2015 Global Leadership Summit.
No. 1: Growth in self-awareness requires feedback from others
Hybels opened this year’s Global Leadership Summit with “The 5 intangibles of Leadership.” The preface is that there are a few additional skills leaders must have outside of their skills in creating a vision, team building, and solving problems, among others. These are innate characteristics that propel some leaders to the head of the pack.
While all of these intangibles are good, one stood out to me: self-awareness. At my current job, I have grown the most in self-awareness. This was not an unexpected gift because the company I work for values and encourages continual growth in this area and yet, up until this point, I had absolutely no idea how to do this or even that I needed to do this!
But growth in self-awareness has made me a better person. A case in point: Three days prior to the summit, I had my bi-annual review. The morning started with a knot in my stomach, stress, and prayer prior to my appointment. During this meeting, I remained quiet and pensive, and I know my supervisor was puzzled because I could see it in his face as he asked me questions and we talked. My answers were concise and void of inteligence and emotional. I’m sure he had no idea what was going on, but I knew why … oh, boy, did I know why … mainly because I been growing in self-awareness.
At my previous place of employment, the owner used these reviews as a weapon. Reviews were horrible experiences, always leaving me broken and figuratively bleeding on the floor. Even though this has never been the case at my new job, I tend to go into self-preservation mode prior to a review and cannot snap out of that tendency during the pleasant hour and sharing and caring interactions that actually happen.
Hybels said, “Growth in self-awareness demands feedback from others.”
What do I do well?
What don't I do well?
The point is that we all have blind spots and everyone knows what they are, but we are oblivious to them. We need someone to loving tell us the truth so we can move that particular thing from our blind spots over into our weakness category and work on it. Hybels said that, on average, we all have three to four blind spots.
My previous employer is a good man, and I’m sure he thought he was being supportive and encouraging—maybe even inspirational—but the way he came across in reviews and staff meetings was his blind spot, as he had no idea that he came off as discouraging and degrading, but we all knew otherwise.
That made me wonder: What are my blind spots? What are the things that people know about me and yet I’m oblivious to them?
The takeaway is simple: start having candid conversations with trusted friends. But more than that, I really need to start preparing my heart to better listen and hear without becoming defensive. If I, with the help of trusted friends and co-workers, can identify my blind spots, then I can take those things and move them over into my weakness category so that, with the Lord’s help, I can work on them and improve myself.
No. 2: If you want to change people, then speak to their emotions
I have the unique gift of being a part of a teaching team, albeit on the B team. However, even though I am on the sidelines most of the time, the most amazing part of being on the team is that I constantly have the opportunity to learn from veteran teachers. And, even better, is that they willingly invest in me.
Speaking of blind spots, one of the things they tell me over and over and over (did I mention “over”?) is that I need to be vulnerable and share myself because doing so gives me credibility when teaching and instructing on spiritual truths.
Dr. Brene Brown said it this way, “If you want to change people, then speak to their emotions.” I’m learning one of the primary ways to do this is through storytelling—sharing the deep personal stuff, as well as the outrageous funny stuff—and giving people glimpses into the real chaos of life because that is the normal experience and everyone can relate to it.
If I, as a teacher, want to connect with my audience, then sharing bits of myself in real, deep, painful, and funny ways might gain me the opportunity for the listeners to let their guards down long enough to hear what I have to say.
This takeaway will certainly be a work in progress, but I am making a commitment to do the hard work of growing in this area! Stay tuned because you, my blog readers, will be the guinea pigs in this endeavor!
No. 3: We come to work to create excellence in our profession
Horst Schultze, chairman and CEO of the Capella Hotel Group and the founding president and former COO of the Ritz-Carlton Group, spoke on creating world-class service. Going in, I wasn’t expecting this to be one of the standout sessions, but he made a compelling case. He stated that being nice is the number one factor in creating a loyal customer.
I kept thinking about Jacob, a trainer at my gym. From the very first day I went to a class, he knew my name and said hi to me by name every time I saw him. In the beginning, when I couldn’t do a bear crawl (a medieval form of torture that requires one to traverse long distances on their hands and feet), he stood beside me telling me I could do it, even though it was hard. Along the way on my fitness journey, he’s supported, coached, and helped me get better, be stronger, lose weight, and succeed! Jacob goes to work to be excellent, and he leads his team well to create excellence in his field. One of the outcomes is that he’s created a loyal customer—me.
The takeaway from this session is evaluating myself each day to see if I’m showing up at work to be excellent, create excellence and support, and encourage and guide my team to excellence.
Horst commented that, if we come to work to create excellence in our profession, then this will affect everything, especially our customers (or, for this text, blog readers!).
Now, It’s Your Turn
That’s it! Those are my Top 3 takeaways from this year’s Global Leadership Summit. Now, it’s your turn: did you attend this year’s summit? If so, please share at least one takeaway from the event.