Honestly, there are days like Wednesday, when I’m on my mower, mowing my yard. It’s a big 3 acre yard, that gets mowed 3 times per week.

Ridiculous, right?! Who does that? We do.

Mowing the yard is kind of a no brainer. I mean what are you going to do? Put your earphones on and listen to music or a podcast or keep them off and listen to the engine. I usually keep them off and it gives me a time of “noisy” solitude. Just me, the mower and my thoughts.

On Wednesday I was tired and mowing, which can be a dangerous combination given that two weeks ago, I didn’t remember much of my time on the mower and I told my family to not critique my less than stellar mowing lines that were the result of constantly waking up mid-sleep, but I digress…Wednesday. On the mower. My thoughts were on leadership.

Do I really have what it takes?

Is it worth it? Am I sure of my calling?

Am I willing to do the hard work?

Because, after all, leaders aren’t born, they’re made. I know, it’s true, some of us come into leadership a bit more naturally than others but it’s still hard work and sometimes it’s lonely and often there is lots of appeal in glancing across the fence and think the grass is greener in the neighbors field.

So, am I willing? Today, I sat in our expansive auditorium at Granger Commons and listened to Bill Hybels, Susan Cain, Carly Fiorina, Bryan Loritts, Jeff Immelt and Patrick Lencioni extol the virtues and pitfalls of leadership. Bill Hybels opened the day with a talk that literally would have been sufficient as a stand alone message for the day. Look, Bill Hybels doesn’t know me from Adam but I feel like I know him because his influence on my life simply can’t be quantified in mere words and every year he simply doesn’t miss with his message. Here are some of my take aways from Bill and the rest of the faculty.

  • Humility! The hallmark of great leaders.
  • Leadership is intensely spiritual.
  • Does anyone on my team feel like a “grunt”?
  • The culture of the organization will only be as healthy as the leader wants it to be.
  • People join organizations but leave managers.
  • Candor in performance reviews is imperative. So, stop something, start something, continue something. Move. Modify. Motivate. Thank. Bless. Inspire.
  • Be ruthless in your commitment to resolving conflict and experience the opportunity to bring greater understanding and love to the situation and people involved.
  • Great leadership is, by definition developmental. New, emerging leaders should be placed in high challenge roles, in a short term task force and be given real time feedback. Are they resourceful? What are they going to do when they don’t know what to do?
  • Pursue solitude.
  • Legacy leaders leave a beautiful legacy when their hour glass is empty.
  • Leadership is the same regardless of the context.
  • Positions are acquired and leadership is established when the potential in others is unlocked.
  • Structure should always follow strategy.
  • What gets measured is what gets done.
  • An organization cannot achieve its potential unless the people inside can achieve theirs.
  • True leadership understands it’s not about us!
  • Leadership is a choice! Choose to lead! Choose to change the order of things!
  • Choose to unlock the potential in yourself and others.
  • When the sun is up our leadership capacity is hard to determine but in a crisis our leadership resolve and capacity can shine. Be involved in a crisis at a young age and lead well.
  • Our vision as leaders has got to be more than that of getting more trinkets, toys and the stuff that will perish.
  • Don’t become a leader for the wrong reasons.
  • Embrace vulnerability.
  • Family and friends are more important than leadership.

By the time Bill got halfway through his talk, I was already resolving to lead with greater humility, more tenacity and deeper commitment to the development of my team. Yes, I am willing. Leadership is a choice and I choose to lead.

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