Last week, I had the privilege of attending one of the simulcast locations for the Global Leadership Summit with a large portion of our church staff. Not only was it in a beautiful location — nestled in Estes Park, surrounded in the Rocky Mountains — but it was also great to hear great insight from some of the top leadership gurus.

This year, Craig Groeschel, co-founder and senior pastor of Life.Church, both started and ended the event. I didn’t get to attend all of the sessions, due to other things going on those two days, but I was able to hear from Angela Ahrendts (VP of Retail for Apple), John C. Maxwell (leadership expert & author), T.D. Jakes (founder & senior pastor of The Potter’s House), Strive Masiyiwa (founder & chairman of Econet Group), Rasmus Ankersen (author & entrepreneur), David Livermore (author & president of Cultural Intelligence Center), Sheila Haan (founder of Triad Consulting Group), Erwin McManus (author & founder of Mosaic Church), and Simon Sinek (leadership author).

When it comes to events like this, I always wonder if I should blog about each individual session or couple them altogether and talk about bigger themes. This time, I decided to do the latter. (If you prefer I write an individual post about one or more speakers, let me know in the comments, and I’ll try to accommodate for you.)

Of all the sessions I attended, there were two clear themes that popped out to me.

1. Do more than you think you should for the people you lead.

One of the big themes I picked up early from Craig Groeschel (others seemed to reiterate it later). As leaders, we need to do more than we think we should for those we are leading. We need to get to know them, know their successes and struggles, pour into them, and show them we care. We are only as good as those we are leading.

We need to also find new and better ways to create two-way communication with our teams. That means, we need to better inform them of our vision, but we also need to do a better job of listening to their ideas. Our teams will perform better when they feel connected, so there needs to be must prioritize getting better at two-way communication.

We also need to be prepared to have difficult conversations along the way. Sheila Heen reminded us of that, and she gave several ways to get ready for them. The overall theme, though, had to do with trying to educate ourselves about all perspectives before we go into a difficult conversation. If we start seeing people the way God sees them — fallible but worthy of love — our conversations will likely get much better. Sheila ended with this thought, which I absolutely loved: “Leadership is about showing people a better future that we will co-create together.”

2. Don’t stop dreaming and pushing to be better and do more.

Many of the speakers talked about the importance of dreaming and continuing to push things forward. T.D. Jakes interviewed Strive Masiyiwa, who spoke quite a bit on this topic. Strive leads a global telecommunications group with offices in more than 20 countries. He didn’t get there haphazardly. He had a dream and he keeps pushing toward it. He shared that leaders need something to dream about that is bigger than our current circumstances and that scares us.

Even when we fail, we cannot stop pushing forward. Rasmus Ankersen continued this thinking, but with some slight tweaks that I hadn’t heard before. Not only should we not let failures stop us, but we also cannot let success stop us. Both have a way of slowing or stopping leaders. We need to ask ourself questions like, “Which industry are we actually competing?” so we make sure we are focused on the right things. Rasmus reminded us that we have never arrived, so keep pushing.

Erwin McManus reminded us of a story from 2 Kings 13:14-19 about the prophet Elisha and King Jehoash. The main theme he grabbed from this was that Jehoash gave up too soon. Too often, as leaders, we give up after a little success. Similar to what Rasmus was saying, we have to keep going, keep pushing, and keep striking.

Simon Sinek talked about this a bit more as he shared that we are fighting an infinite game. In a finite game, the rules and time-limit are agreed upon by all sides (like a sport). In an infinite game, the only competitor is yourself. Thus, we need to keep striving to become better and to make our companies, organizations, and teams better. And this is not to compete against others; our goals and dreams are higher than just being better than someone else.

Bonus: Anticipate what you need to do as a leader.

Craig Groeschel ended the Summit with an amazing talk about what he calls “anticipatory leadership.” The main idea comes from the thought that if we are not changing, we are falling behind. This actually might be one that I explain further in another post, but I’ll do my best to summarize it the next paragraph.

We need to train ourselves to think ahead — not only for our organizations but also for ourselves. Along those lines, we also need to be honest with ourselves, especially our faults and mistakes. This will allow us to be prepared for things that aren’t working. Too often, we are reactors. Instead, we need to be proactive and anticipate what could happen next: the good and bad. Honestly, this is probably an extreme over-simplification of what Craig shared. I’ll expand upon it sometime soon in another post.

If you also attended the GLS 2018, I’d love to hear some of the themes that stuck out to you. If you didn’t attend, what did you learn from the themes I mentioned here? What steps are you planning to take in your own leadership?

Speaking of leadership, I’m currently wrapping up reading How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge by Clay Scroggins. It’s so good! Expect a summary/review of that in the next couple weeks.

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