The 2011 Global Leadership Summit – Wow!

I have just spent 2 days at “The Global Leadership Summit.”  For those who are not familiar with this summit, it is a worldwide leadership summit held in August each year. It is put on by the Willow Creek Community Church based in South Barrington, Illinois (Chicago area) and beamed all over the world via satellite.  The goal is to develop leaders around the world, not just church leaders but all leaders.  That includes business leaders, community leaders, politicians, activists and, don’t forget, all who desire to learn. Yes, that includes all of us as we are all leaders somewhere in our lives each day.  We should all keep learning and have our cage rattled by something or someone.  This was such an event.

Day 1 lead off with Bill Hybels, Founding and Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, clearly defining strategies for dealing with challenging people. Here are some of his points:

  1. As leaders we must know where we as well as our employees are and indeed where our organization is on the “challenge level.”  Are we under challenged, appropriately challenged or dangerously over challenged.  Under challenged people will be bored and leave.  Appropriately challenged people will do well but will not be functioning at their best (no stress here!), Dangerously over challenged?  That leads to burn out, is unhealthy and unsustainable for any length of time.  The most efficient place to be is just above the appropriately challenged level.  There is some positive stress driving you or the organization to be better and better.  You are constantly pushing the sustainable limits just like an athlete trains their body to get stronger by pushing their physical boundaries.
  2. What plan do you have to deal with challenging people in an organization?  A plan is a must as the “key to the future of an organization is tied to fantastic people.”  Attitude busters must be faced head-on as their damage to the soul of the organization can be catastrophic.  Bad attitude requires a swift response with swift correction by the employee or they must move on.  Under performers should be given a maximum of 3 months to improve with the help of the organization or need to seek success at a more appropriate organization.  If there is no “talent elasticity” (under performers who do not want to stretch themselves) then organizational growth will be limited.
  3. As a leader, are you naming and facing and resolving problems within your organization?  Are you constantly looking at how and why you are doing things?  Every idea has a life cycle from being proposed, to accelerating into being, to really taking off and “booming”, to ….. decelerating as the idea becomes stale.  This ultimately leads to the idea falling precipitously to its death.  Leaders can intervene by spotting the decelerating ideas and reviving them through directed teamwork with members of the organization.
  4. An organization’s core is what drives its focus and hence its success.  Leaders should reexamine their organization’s core beliefs to keep the focus.  Try this:  draw a circle on a blank page.  Now, within the circle, draw and number 5 lines top to bottom.  On each line write one and only one word (not a phrase) that describes your organization’s core.  Ask others to do the same and compare notes.  You will most likely get varied lists and lots of discussion ensuing.
  5. Finally, all leaders should have their bell rung by something or by someone on a regular basis.  This will keep you moving forward, thinking, looking introspectively, learning, and reading, pushing yourself to be better and better at leading.

Next up was Len Schlesinger, President of Babson College and a Harvard Professor in the MBA program.  Wow!  He explained that entrepreneurship is in all of us and does not mean the unrealistic success stories of the likes of Steve Jobs of Apple, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Bill Gates of Microsoft.  All entrepreneurship is, is an ability to act on an idea or plan within your financial limits taking small steps one at a time doing something you really care about.  His points of interest were:

  1. Know what you want.
  2. Act on it – do something!
  3. Work within the means you have.
  4. Be flexible with how you do it.
  5. Bring people with you – you cannot do it alone.

Next up was Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, New Jersey.  Now here is an educated man with passion that drives him and sucks you in.  He was educated at Stanford, was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University and attended Yale Law School.  That’s impressive but not what was outstanding about him.  He seems to be a regular guy who has a passion for making a difference.  A positive difference in his city is being made in improved education, reduced crime and more city services.  Here are some of his words of wisdom:

  1. “Stand up for something!”  We all must participate in something bigger than ourselves that will serve others somewhere, somehow.
  2. “Regardless of the storm you must be able to stand up!”  Keep standing up every time you are in a storm, no matter how big the storm appears to be.
  3. “Use your blessings to move forward with fearless hope.”  How hard is this one for us all!? Do you ever forget to count your blessings which typically look at us right in the face every minute of every day!?
  4. “The world you see outside of you is what is inside of you.”  This one is very thought provoking.  It made me look at myself and how I lead, how I react to the environment and how I think on a day-to-day basis.  How about you?
  5. Abraham Lincoln said, “everyone is born an original.”  Cory Booker said, “many of us die copies”.  Be yourself.  Don’t let TV, the news, your work environment or those you interact with everyday sour your outlook.  Be you and be comfortable with that.

Seth Godin then took the podium.  He has written many books on being different, standing out and going the extra mile.  The most notable one I have read: The Purple Cow.  It is an easy read and very thought provoking.  In his talk his points were as follows:

  1. We are living in a “new age of weird, a new age of tribes where people want to be in synch with each other and can be via the internet and all social media.” Tribe members want similar things, hence the formation of the tribe.  What an opportunity!
  2. The age of instant communication at phenomenal volume and speed challenges the old way of doing business.  No longer is it selling masses of average products to average people.  It is selling outstanding services or products to outstanding, discerning and demanding people.
  3. In your business, “build a culture, challenge it (constantly) and be clear where you are going.”  Make constant improvements in an effort to get better and better.  You want your business, your people and yourself to be outstanding because that’s when people talk about you to others.  If you are average they forget about you.  If you are really bad ….. they spread the word on that too.
  4. “Competence is no longer scarce. Competence is no longer sufficient to get a job.”  You must be outstanding.  You need to take risks.
  5. “Risky human acts of doing something you have never done before is what sets you up for success.”  You may fail but if you don’t try, you will never taste success.
  6. “If failure is not an option, then neither is success.”
  7. “Pick yourself!  Don’t wait to be picked!”  In other words, start something!  Don’t wait for someone else to create your success.

Next week I will summarize day 2.  Qhite exhilirating it was.


  1. Where are you on the challenge meter?
  2. What 5 words describe your own personal core?
  3. What is it that you REALLY want to do?  What is your passion?
  4. Describe the world you see.  Now what does that say about you, inside?
  5. What can you do today to be outstanding?
  6. As always, please let me know your thoughts on this post.

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