This past Thursday and Friday, the Willow Creek Association hosted its annual Global Leadership Summit. And WOW. All I could say on Friday evening was WOW. The speaker line up was amazing and the content they shared was twice that.
There are tons of people sharing their notes and blogging about the main themes from each speaker. But I wanted to briefly share 5 (not so) little nuggets that are among my favorite and how you can begin to think and act on them today.
John Maxwell: “People have uphill hopes, but downhill habits.”
- (Insert punch in the gut). This idea rings with so much truth that it was almost hard to get beyond it. Too often we have our sights set on “quick wins” and the 80-20 focus, but we don’t have the habits that allow us to live and work intentionally to realize those goals. The extremely important example that John gave was the idea that make a difference for people, we have to focus on significance of others (the uphill) and fight against our own selfishness (the downhill battle).
- What can you do: One of the tips from John was that we have to “Think of ways to add value”. NO duh, right…..but how often are we intentional in our words and actions so that we come upon an opportunity to add value that we are prepared to make an impact. Spend time thinking about how you can add value to your team.
Dr. Travis Bradberry: “Get stress under control”
- I have been following Dr. Bradberry on Linked In and Twitter for some time now. The message in his speech was powerful: emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of success in any business. In fact, the so often regarded metric of IQ only explains about 20% of what we do. EQ is the real skill for leaders to make a difference for their teams.
- What can you do: His number one recommendation to build your own EQ, GET STRESS UNDER CONTROL. What’s important to note from his talk is that he suggests finding the optimal stress of challenging work but not over stressing ourselves and our teams which only degrades performance. To manage stress we need to find the management strategies that will allow us to come back in the optimal range: walks, breathing, turning off the phone. But most interesting was the idea of showing gratitude, which he quoted that studies have shown will lower cortisol (a neurotransmitter) by 23%.
Chris McChesney: “Manage the Whirlwind versus Goals”
- Chris’ talk focused around how we, as leaders, can actually become good at execution. While most leaders are educated in schools and training on strategy, we are hardly ever taught how to effectively execute on strategies, which leads to a frustrating amount of strategy failures. Part of the problem is that our teams are dealing with the Whirlwind (their everyday, tactical responsibilities) and goals (the new and big ideas that create opportunities and transformation). As Chris explained it, what most managers don’t realize is the diminishing returns of adding too many goals to our teams. The metric he shared as shocking:
- For every 2-3 goals individuals and teams take on above the whirlwind, 2-3 goals will be achieved
- For every 4-10 goals individuals and teams take on above the whirlwind, 1-2 goals will be achieved
- For every 11+ goals individuals and teams take on above the whirlwind, 0 goals will be achieved
- (Personal note: I think he was being very kind…..I would have changed the ranges from 4-10 and 11+ to 4-6 and 6+)
- What can you do: Take a real inventory of what your team is working on. Utilize empathy to talk with the team about what they feel is in their Whirlwind. Often the farther the leader is from the Whirlwind, the less real perspective we have on the thousands of tiny requests that distract from strategic work on goals.
Alan Mulally: “Watch out for the ‘all green’ charts”
- Mulally shared a story about a time just after he had taken over the leadership of Ford. It was the first time the leadership within were really focused on business plans reviews. In the first review all of the leaders showed charts that were all green to their committed goals. The only problem: Ford was forecasted to lose $17 billion dollars that year. He challenged all of the leaders on this idea and to be transparent with how their teams were helping the company to recover. Slowly but surely, leaders began revealing areas that were challenged and something remarkable happened, other leaders began to offer help because they had dealt with a similar problem or they had staff who had.
- What you can do: Alan challenged all of the leaders at the summit to create an environment where two key, but opposing thoughts can be held simultaneously by the teams: Everyone has to deal in reality (show the reds), but also have the confidence to deal with and overcome the challenges. Consider how your own reviews look and function. Words and actions matter. Encourage creativity, collaboration, and problem solving.
Bill Hybels, Dr. Henry Cloud, Shauna Nyquist: “The universal blindspot for leaders is a lack of self reflection”
- As type leaders, we are often drawn, driven, and addicted to action. Go. Go. Go. The problem is that we were not designed for long term action, with intermittent reflection. And sadly, if leaders cannot make time to reflect, it can lead not only to burn out but the proverbially question “are we even climbing the right mountain?” Constantly driving and increasing our speed to hit more and higher goals is just unsustainable. Our mind, body, and spirit have to be allowed to disengage and recharge; otherwise, they will breakdown and force the reset whether we like it or not.
- What can you do: Be intentional about self-reflection. Find time each week or each day to take stock of what your priorities are. We can also seek counsel from friends, peers, and even our teams. As I have heard at the summit before, as leaders, those around us often know well before we do that we are out of control. Be mindful of your tipping point. Schedule the time to reflect (if you don’t the work will expand to fill the time). And then reengage.
If you have never been to the Global Leadership Summit, I would highly recommend it. The topics and faculty are incredibly relevant to the challenges leaders, in business, government, and the church are dealing with in these times. I know I will be headed back next year….a little bit better because of the challenges in this post among many others.
Here are this week’s 5 for 5 articles:
How a single conversation with my boss changed my view on delegation and failure – by Margaret Gould Stewart
- SO WHAT: Are you holding so tight that there is no way for your team to go off the rails (and learn)
The 6 Simple Habits Fueling My Creativity – by Todd Brison
- SO WHAT: Love the first one…”Seek creation, not affirmation”…. AMEN.
It happens around the edges – by Seth Godin
- SO WHAT: Stop waiting for “those people”, the executives, the experienced people to bring you ideas…..make your own, find a tribe, and “those people” will have to take notice.
These 4 Hobbies Can Actually Improve Job Performance – by Jared Lindzon
- SO WHAT: Pick any hobby: photography, knitting, cooking, painting….if we give ourselves permission to be more creative out of the office, it will naturally follow us into the office.
Six Habits Of Champions – by Stephanie Vozza
- SO WHAT: Give the Olympics are in full swing, it makes sense to share this. You don’t have to be a world class athlete….you do have to commit to making a difference in whatever field you are in.