2011 Global Leadership Summit Session 1 Notes: Bill Hybels #wcagls

bill HybelsRelentless learner. Driven to action. Deep, personal sacrifice. These characteristics have propelled Bill Hybels through 35 years of ever-shifting challenges as senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church and Chairman of the Board at Willow Creek Association. The author of more than two dozen books including current bestseller The Power of a Whisper, Hybels trains Christian leaders world-wide—and consistently pushes himself to get better as a leader, every year. Single-minded in his passion for the local church, he issues hard-hitting truths that challenge people to take their organizations to the next level. Hybels’ successes—and mistakes—bring high-definition clarity to the things truly worthy of your leadership time and investment.


  • When the leader stops learning, the leader should stop leading.
  • Every leader can get better if they want to.
  • We live in a world that’s crying out for better leadership.

Q1: What is your current leadership challenge level at work?

  • Divide your meter in thirds: under-challenged, appropriately challenged, dangerously over challenged (D.O.C)
  • (I am “dangerously over challenged”)
  • Where (on the meter) do you do your best work?
  • Research shows you do your best work just into the D.O.C zone.
  • Senior leaders – if your under-challenged, step it up, take on a new challenge.
  • If you’re at the top of D.O.C. you will begin to breakdown.
  • If you operate at the top of D.O.C., you’re setting a bad example.
  • Might there be seasons in D.O.C.? Probably, but avoid them & get out of them ASAP.
  • Research shows stress increases productivity, but stress over time reduces productivity.
  • How do we get a handle on who’s being overworked and who is not? Give this test to everyone in your department. (Do under-challenged people really tell you or are they afraid they’ll just get more work?)
  • What do under-challenged people do? They leave.
  • Doing the test can save people who are over challenged and keep people who are under-challenged.
  • Can organizations be under or over challenged? Yes.
  • Do this exercise for your organization.

Q2: What is your plan for dealing with challenging people in your organization?

  • The line exercise. What if we had a 50% revenue drop, who would you say goodbye to. We ask our managers to put all their people in order of who they’d want to keep.
  • When you get to the people at the end of the line, you ask some interesting questions. Are they under performing? Do I have them on the wrong tasks? Am I avoiding some tough conversations?
  • I need to field a team of fantastic people to build a fantastic team to serve a fantastic God.
  • Our future is tied to attracting a team of fantastic people.
  • Fred – attitude problem, how long are you going to let Fred do this? We begin the convo a/b bad attitudes as soon as we see the pattern. They tell the person they have 30 days to resolve the issue.
  • How do you handle under-performers? We give 3 months. Problems are usually more complex.
  • Single toughest issue: a great person but who the position has outgrown them. This convo is almost always heart-breaking. Give them 6 months.
  • If you don’t deal with challenging people in your organization, you discourage and demotivate your best people.
  • Fantastic people do not want to be dragged down by whiners and under-performers.
  • Challenging people deep down are not happy people. 90% of these people after you let them go & they find a better job come back and call you blessed.
  • 3 years ago we knew we had a culture problem. Surveyed the staff. Results were disappointing. Best Christian Workplace helped them make a dramatic turnaround.

Q3: Do you have the courage to name, face and resolve the problems you’re facing?

  • The church Bill grew up in never named their problems and it died a slow death.
  • In Acts 2-4 the first church problem arose.
  • There were inequities in the distribution of food.
  • The church was at risk.
  • Church leaders named the problem.
  • They sprung to action, built a team around it, and solve the problem.
  • In Acts 6:7, “and after that, the church grew rapidly and even the most unlikely came to faith…”
  • We as church leaders come from a legacy of church leaders who called problems problems and courageously tried to solve them.
  • We must do the same.
  • All ideas and initiatives have a life cycle.
  • The Life Cycle Exercise: Accelerating, Booming, Decelerating, Taking.
  • Nothing rocks forever.
  • Willow mobilized a team to come up with new ideas and initiatives to take each ministry that was declining and move it to accelerating.
  • Part of your job as a a leader is to look problems straight in the eye and call them what they are.
  • Don’t be intimidated by them, no matter how big they are.
  • Inject your organization with the self-esteem to know problems can be solved.

Q4: When was the last time you reexamined what your organization is all about?

  • Churches ought to be in the people transformation business.
  • There’s only one force powerful enough to transform people, the gospel.
  • Exercise: Draw a circle. Write 5 words that describe the gospel.
  • Bill’s 5: Love, evil, rescue, choice, restoration

Q5: Have you had your leadership bell rung recently?

  • Leaders rarely learn anything new without having their world rocked.
  • In Thailand, 1% Christian, a leader cast a bold vision to see 1,000,000 people come to Christ in the next 5 years.
  • It’s been a while since I’ve cast such a bold vision.
  • If you were sick enough of being stuck, you would do whatever it takes, you would take action.
  • Don’t get caught up in a pattern of creating excuses instead of bold solutions to solve the problems.
  • Leaders, your job is to move your organization from here to there. You’ve believe that God wants to work with you to get your organization from here to there.
  • Why couldn’t our next 5 years be our best 5 years?
  • It all comes down to whether you want your next 5 years to be your best 5 years.
  • For those approaching the finish line, why go out with a whimper? Go through the finish line in a full sprint.
  • I want all of you to join me in a time of decision and prayer and choose whether you want to make the next 5 years your best 5 years.
What was your biggest takeaway(s) from Bill Hybel’s talk? What action will you take?

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