Over the past two days, I had the opportunity to join over ~200,000 leaders in 350+ locations around the world who came together for one of the largest events of the year – the Global Leadership Summit. The speakers were gathered at the Willow Creek campus in Chicago, but only about 5% of the total viewing audience was present onsite – the majority of us were participating from countries all around the world. The Summit is an annual event where you’ll find business leaders, church leaders, political leaders and social leaders from across all spans of life. The diversity of perspective offered by passionate individuals from different spheres and cultures reminds me of how much we all share in common: organizations and communities in need, gifts and ideas waiting to be tapped, great opportunities to step out in faith and call out the best in others. We have influence that matters – and it’s time to use it.
As we often do, Ali Llewellyn and I took copious notes and invited other attendees to join us in the collective note-taking as well. Our goal was to try to capture all that we experienced and gained from the event for the benefit of those who could not make it. You can review our detailed notes here, but for those of you who are looking for the highlights, let me provide my version of an executive summary below. Here are the 14 key takeaways, one quote from each speaker, that really impacted me at the 2014 event.
#1: “Your culture will only ever be as healthy as the most senior leader wants it to be.”
#2: “The primary responsibility of leadership is to unlock potential.”
#3: “Over time my team will question my decisions, but I hope they never question my intentions.”
#4: “Rule of thumb for networking events: one genuine new relationship is worth a fistful of business cards.”
#5: “We need infinitely more people that are serious about their faith in the marketplace than in churches.”
#6: “Servant leadership is the only kind of leadership there is. Leadership is sacrificing yourself for the benefit of others, expecting no reward yourself.”
#7: “The myth that we can’t both tell the truth and keep a friend is at the heart of most dysfunction.”
#8: “If we don’t talk conflict out, we’ll act it out.”
#9: “Challenge without confidence creates fear; confidence without challenge creates complacency.”
#10: “God doesn’t know the division between church and business. We’re the ones who build these walls.”
#11: “Courage is an inner resolution to go forward despite obstacles; Cowardice is submissive surrender to circumstances. Courage breeds creativity; Cowardice represses fear and is mastered by it. Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency ask the question, “Is it political?” Vanity asks the question, “Is it popular?” But conscience ask the question, “Is it right?” And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.”
#12: “When you feel the weakest, that’s precisely when you are the strongest.”
#13: “I’ll pass over the qualified person with the wrong attitude for the person with the right attitude.”
#14: “Sometimes you have got to take that step into the unknown. Don’t quit. Take the next step.”