6 Insights I learned at the 2016 Willow Creek Leadership Summit

This year our church took over 55 to attend Willow Creek’s Leadership Summit at our local video venue in London, Ontario. As usual, I came away with many great leadership insights. In this post I summarize my top 6 learnings.

What I learned at this year’s Willow Creek Leadership Summit:

  1. The lens of leadership.
    • Bill Hybels, senior pastor at Willow, taught the first session of the day. He’s always super. He used eyeglasses as word pictures to describe these 4 different lens of leadership:
      • passion lens (self explanatory)
      • shattered lens (an unhealthy view of leadership)
      • performance lens (we have to get stuff done)
      • legacy lens (what we will leave behind)
    • The ‘passion’ lens insight stood out to me the most. He said that passion can be fueled by our dreams or even our defeats (lessons we learn about what does not work or lessons learned through failure). He also said that it’s our job to fill our passion bucket.
    • This statement profoundly impacted me: There are no do overs in leadership but there are makeovers.
  2. Culture mapping.
    • Erin Meyer, a professor at a university in France, and author of The Culture Map, gave a fascinating talk about her innovative research on how cultures differ in several ways. She has isolated eight different dimensions that any organization involved in cross-cultural work needs to understand.
    • In her talk she unpacked the communication dimension which was amazing. Since our church has three different language expressions in three different congregations, I will definitely delve more into her insights.
  3. The one thing to get right: add value to people.
    • John Maxwell spoke on this subject. I’ve heard John speak before and read many of his books. But it’s been a while since I’ve heard him. When he started speaking, I felt like a wise uncle was  in my living room sharing sage advice with me. I had heard his theme of ‘add value’ to people before, but it was refreshing to hear it again.
    • Several gems stood out.
  4. The power of vision.
    • In this session Jossy Chacko who leads a ministry that has a goal of planing 100,000 churches (they planted an average of 11 per day in 2015), challenged us about true vision. Here are some of his nuggets.
      • Some people are vision poppers.
      • A passionary leader is a passionate leader with great vision.
      • Risk is a friend to love not an enemy to be feared.
      • Real vision is hinged to the door of risk.
      • View comfort and safety as enemies to vision.
      • Don’t try to work out all the details of your vision before you do anything.
      • See the heavenly possibilities instead of human limitations.
      • Leadership capacity is proportional to your pain threshold.
      • Some of the world’s greatest ideas lie in the grave (because some people were too afraid to pursue their vision).
  5. What to look for in a potential leader.
    • Patrick Lencioni has been a Summit favorite for years, and for good reason. He brings great stuff. At this session he summarized his latest book, The Ideal Team Player, in which he suggests three key character qualities that make, well, the ideal team player: humble, hungry, and smart.
    • I loved this insight about humility. Humility is thinking about yourself less, not thinking less about yourself.

      He then described the person with different combinations of only two of these qualities, really interesting stuff. Definitely a good book to pick up.

  6. Bonus insight.
    • Wilfredo De Jesus (pastor of the largest Assembly of God Church in the U.S.) closed out the Summit with a powerful call for the Church to be the Church. Some of his standout quotes included these:

I’m glad I attended this year’s Summit. I plan to read several of the speakers’ books and our team will meet soon for a debrief/action plan session.

If you attended the Summit, I’d love to hear the insights that stood out to you?

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