As a businessman I have become acutely aware that my ability to lead is directly related to the growth and success of any business I run. This has lead me to read as much as possible on leadership, follow top leadership professionals and attend conferences where I can learn more about successful leadership.
The Global Leadership Summit (GLS) is one of those conferences that I have been attending for the past three years. The conference is primarily a Christian Leadership conference but has been very good at finding speakers outside the Christian circles. Seth Godin, Jack Welsch and a host of other leadership and business “greats” have all spoken at the GLS.
The Christian aspect of the conference is also refreshing as I have always held a personal belief that the Bible is the best source of wisdom in how we should live, lead and treat each other in this world. I thought it would be a great idea to share with you three key learnings that I got out of the conference. I hope these pearls of wisdom help you in your leadership journey.
Bill Hybels: What is your current challenge level
- Dangerously over challenged: too much going on
- Appropriate: there is a sense of finality and completion
- Under challenged
Bill suggests, as do many others, that our best work is done when we are challenged just over our “over challenged” mark. In other words we are slightly out of our depth which excites us and challenges us to meet our day to day demands. The danger zones are under challenged and dangerously over challenged. These are the area’s where we do not work to our full potential. A few years ago I was diagnosed with a near nervous breakdown due to high stress levels. This was not because I was too busy, it was because I was under challenged. The advice from my doctor was to eat right, sleep right, exercise and find a more challenging environment to work in.
This past year has been absolutely enthralling to work in. Owning my own businesses has been a great experience. I constantly feel challenged but over the last two months I have been feeling over challenged. I made a big decision to move a large part of my business over to the proven responsibility of a co-worker in my business. This has been a very successful venture so far. The co-worker is enjoying the additional responsibility and I have been freed up to ensure the important business growth aspects are all in place. I feel stronger and back in the game, whereas a few weeks ago I was nearly staying alive.
Len Schlesinger: Believe in the future by creating it first
This idea of believing in the future by creating it first really struck a chord with me. When I started my first business I was tempted to do things the way they were done in the previous business I worked for. It was too easy to just carry on doing things the same way.
The crazy thing was that the previous business was unprofitable and didn’t have a great business model. I found that I needed to picture my successful business of the future before I could achieve it. The business was very different and held ideals about building into people, looking after clients no matter what and keeping a profitable bottom end that could sustain all the previous ideals. The dream was a big one, but only after seeing it was I able to believe in it and start creating it.
I had to buy, sell, produce, talk and live in such a way that the dream was alive in order to start creating it. Today I believe the dream is alive and doing well, I believe we did it through great team of people who believed in the dream. We did it because we saw something, believed in it and began to create it.
It has been invigorating to see this take place!
John Dickson: The most believable person is the one that has your best interest at heart
John spoke about humble leadership. The type of leadership that involves holding your power in the service of others. Yes you may be powerful, you may be rich, but true leadership holds off that power and wealth and uses it for a greater purpose than to get what we want. This type of leadership puts the client first, the employee first, the vision first and the business first. So often, it is selfish gain that destroys companies. I have not heard a case study of a failed business where strong humble leadership was the root of the problem. John gives five reasons for humility. I will share three here but if you want the rest you should probably buy his book [Humilitas: A Lost Key to Life, Love, and Leadership.]
1) Humility is common sense
- No one is an expert in everything
- Expertise in one area counts for very little in another
- How much you know should remind you about how much you don’t know
2) Humility is beautiful
- We like great leaders who are humble but we don’t like those who are great and they know it
- Humble leadership shows the character of the person
- Humility means looking to help others, and everyone likes someone who has their best interests at heart
3) Humility is generative
- It generates new knowledge because we are not afraid to ask
- The proud person leaves a learning engagement with less that the humble person who actively wants to learn through the engagement.
- The humble place is the place of growth