The Best Leadership Advice for Every Leader

Leadership is a buzzword that is often coupled with catchy phrases and trendy ideas. But in a sea of experts, our culture seems to be drowning. Am I being too harsh? Maybe so. There are some great leaders, but take a minute and answer this question:

Who are the great leaders of our time?

Popular culture dominates so much of the mainstream today that it’s often mistaken for leadership. That’s a dangerous correlation to make because some of the greatest leaders of all time–Jesus Christ, Abraham Lincoln, Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Jr.–were assassinated.

Moreover, we believe that since we’re not popular, then we’ll never be able to lead.

I beg to differ.

What if the greatest leaders have yet to be cultivated?

And what if you’re one of them?

And lest you think that you’re a leader, we’re all leading someone. At the very least, we’re leading ourselves.

As a father of three, small business owner, author, and speaker, I constantly try to digest my fill of great leadership material to fuel my professional and personal life.

I’m learning that the core values of leadership are unshakable, they just have to be filtered through the lens of our lives–our perspective.

The Global Leadership Summit, a two-day leadership conference hosted by Willow Creek Community Church just outside of Chicago, influences more than 250,000 leaders worldwide each year.

If you’re not familiar with the event, I highly recommend that you attend one of the satellite locations in 2016.

Since 2014, I have been hooked.

It’s like drinking from a firehose of leadership knowledge.

I recently attended the 2015 event. It was a head-on collision with my heart–a heart that was longing for wisdom and insight on great leadership. What you’ll see below are my top takeaways.

I believe that this is some of the greatest advice on leadership and it is in a format on my podcast where you can digest it in thirty minutes or less.

I hope that you will take the time to really read through and listen to these principles. Use them as a roadmap in your leadership life. I know that they have ignited within me a fire for leading well and I hope they do the same for you.

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Bill Hybels – Senior Pastor, Founder, Willow Creek Community Church

Forty years ago, Bill Hybels sold tomatoes door-to-door in order to raise the money to rent a theatre for the first church service of Willow Creek. Now, the church hosts more than 24,000 each weekend and is the host church for the annual Global Leadership Summit, a two-day event empowering over 250,000 leaders worldwide.

Bill began his time by saying that the most essential quality in leadership is humility–a willingness to learn. This quote grabbed me:

“If we’re armed with enough humility, we can learn from anyone.” – Bill Hybels

The Five Intangible Qualities of a Leader:

1. GritThe Little Engine That Could – I think I can – A gritty company is unstoppable

2. Self-Awareness – We have to be humble in order to be self-aware – Where are your blind spots? – When we identify our blind spots, they become weaknesses – ask your friends, ask your employees, ask your spouse

3. Resourcefulness – The Wright Brothers failed until they succeeded – We must become addicted to learning – We must put ourselves in broken situations and force ourselves to persist

 4. Self-Sacrificing Love – Do the members of your organization feel a personal concern from you?

5. Deep Sense of MeaningSimon Sinek’s Ted Talk on starting with Why  – Make sure your why is white hot!

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Jim Collins – Business Consultant and Lecturer, Author of Good to Great and Built to Last

Seven Question Ever Leader Should Ask Themselves

1. What cause do you serve?

If you don’t infuse your business with a cause greater than money, it will fail.

2. Would you settle to be a good leader or would you press into becoming a great leader?

Great leaders began as good leaders, but they didn’t quit growing

3. How can you reframe failure?

I’m not failing, I’m growing. That’s the point of the climb. We wake up everyday to fail.

4. How can you succeed by helping others succeed?

Invest in others. Every great leader will pour back into others.

5. Have you found your hedgehog?

The intersection of your passions, your gifts, and their economic value. Press into that place.

6. Will you build your unit, your minibus, into a pocket of greatness?

You have to lead yourself first. The cellular level must work well for the body to work well. Life is people.

7. How will your life change the life of others?

Change yourself, then change the world.

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Ed Catmull – Co-Founder and CEO of Pixar, Author of Creativity, Inc.

Ed talked about how, at Pixar, they will get some of the brightest minds in the room for the purpose of brainstorming. But he said that too often, people are attached to their own ideas. When they begin to set their agendas aside, magic happens.

When we take on the mindset of a learner, of wanting add value, magic is waiting.

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Brené Brown – Research Professor, Speaker, Author of the NYT Best-Selling, Daring Greatly and the soon-to-be-released, Rising Strong

Every single one of us is in the middle of a story. Life is a series of stories. In Act I of every story, we are introduced to a character, a character that meets an adventure. But with that adventure comes a challenge. Too many times, stories end because the character isn’t willing to meet the challenge. However, when they do, we move on to Act II.

In Act II, the character pursues the easy path to finding a solution, often met with tragedy and failure. However, the character must find a way. So many stories end in Act II because the characters fail to persist. There is no easy path to greatness. But when they persist, we are met with the climactic Act III.

In Act III, the character gets it done. This is where the character wins. This is the part we long for, but we stop before we get there.

“You can choose courage in your story or you can choose comfort, but you cannot pick both.” – Brené Brown

“You only get to write the ending to your story when you own it. You cannot write a story you do not own.” – Brené Brown

“There is nothing more dangerous than the willingness to fail.” – Brené Brown

Horst Schulze – Founder and former COO of Ritz-Carlton Hotels

The Bible talks about loving your neighbor as yourself, right? Well, your neighbor…that’s everyone! We’re supposed to serve everyone out of love. And for those of us who are in business, that’s exactly what our customers deserve.

It is our role as leaders to create excellence. As leaders, we have forfeited the right to make excuses for anything but excellence.

“You can never claim superiority over another human being. When you claim superiority, you stop serving.” – Horst Shulze.

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Craig Groeschel – Lead Pastor LifeChurch.tv, Author

Ephesians 3:20 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine.”

God is capable of doing immeasurably more than we could ever image and you are capable of doing more.

The Five C’s of More

1. Confidence

We need to stop speaking the language of the lid. Quit limiting yourself in your speech.

“The path to your greatest potential is through your greatest fear.” – Craig Groeschel

2. Connections

You may be one relationship away from your destiny. Show me who you’re listening to and I will show you who you are becoming.

3. Competence

Everyone else knows where your incompetencies are, do you?

4. Character

Talent can get you to the top, character keeps you there. If your character is not being strengthened, your potential is weakening.

5. Commitment

There’s a big difference between “I’m kind-of trying to this” and “Nothing can stop me.” It’s time to quit kind-of trying to do that thing that’s on your heart.

“Your brain does not understand what your God is capable of doing.” – Criag Groeschel

For generations, God has been blowing the mind of his people. Wherever you are today, I encourage you to quiet the voices in your head and listen to the gentle whisper in your heart.

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I wrote the following the morning after the Global Leadership Summit in 2015. I will leave you with these words in hopes that they encourage you to follow your heart with reckless abandon, looking to God as your source of direction and strength.

“Deep down, I believe that we all thirst for someone great to follow–to be a part of an epic adventure. And we’re tired of adventures based around fame and money and status. Those are age-old tales that have never led to true fulfillment.

We long for adventures about love and courage and purpose and sacrifice–the insatiable desires that speak to our heart. But I can promise you this, those adventures aren’t safe. Those adventures are scary.

And that’s exactly why we sit on the sideline and dream instead of doing.

I’m learning that dreaming is good, that’s where adventures begin, but at some point, you have to leave the safety of fear. Being afraid and doing nothing–that’s safe.

At some point, great adventurers realize that they have to leave the safety of paralyzing fear.”

It’s time for an adventure.

MH

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About the Author: 

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Matt Ham

Matt Ham believes that your whole life matters.

As a husband and father, Matt constantly felt the tension of balancing his family life with his small business. In 2015, Matt published his first book and began pursuing a passion for helping others find wholeness by uncovering the keys to an enriched life.

His first book, Redefine Rich: A New Perspective on the Good Life, can be found at www.redefinerich.com.

For speaking inquiries, please visit www.mattham.com/speaking

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To purchase a limited-edition, hardback copy of my book, visit www.redefinerich.com

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