Leadership Insights & Stories of Impact. WCA hosts the annual Global Leadership Summit, a top-notch, adrenaline pumping call to lead where you are. We’re convinced that leadership is critical to church and organization vitality. A church’s effectiveness in pursuing its God-given mission is largely dependent on the character, devotion and skill of its leadership core.
You may think I made a mistake in the title—shouldn’t it be ‘Fearless’ Leadership? No, it’s not a mistake. It is very intentional!
Fear is a natural human emotion, created by God, that protects us from doing foolish things. Like any emotion, it’s critical we hold fear in the right balance within our leadership. As leaders we should neither be full of fear nor completely without fear. We need to be fear-less leaders.
Growing up on a farm in a South Indian village was a dream childhood, including carefree hours spent playing with friends among the rubber trees beside the river where we swam and fished—an idyllic playground. The tropical hum of cicadas was usually punctuated only by our laughter and fun.
Until the inevitable shriek, “Snake!”
Our farm was home to a number of poisonous snakes. From a young age, we were taught to fear them, immediately calling for adult help when we spotted one on the farm. My grandfather had seen too many fatal bites to allow ignorant fearlessness to determine our fate. So, for our own preservation, we were taught to fear the snakes.
Thirty years later, I went to visit one of our leaders who had started work among a group of snake charmers. These people handle snakes for work and play; their children are at ease among the reptiles I was taught to fear! It was fascinating to watch from a distance as the snake charmers performed, coaxing the cobras out of the basket until the magnificent animals were swaying to the music.
As the chief guest, I was then invited forward so they could honour and welcome me with a garland—a common Indian custom. Only this time, the garland to be draped around my neck was actually a large king cobra!! All my childhood instructions and memories flooded back. I was paralysed with excessive fear, unable to move forward.
They laughed at me and assured me of my safety. Culturally, my refusal to accept their welcome and hospitality could offend and even end our work among them. Our leaders reinforced their assurance, but I still couldn’t move. Thankfully one of our senior leaders saw my genuine predicament and stepped forward, inviting them to place the garland on his neck instead of mine. Today, we still have a thriving work among this people group.
This experience caused me to consider the role of fear in my leadership. How do I avoid ignorant fearlessness while refusing to stay paralysed by excessive fear? How do I ensure I lead from a fear-less position?
These four key principles have helped me:
1. Don’t receive a fearful spirit, because it is not from God.
2 Timothy 1:7 says that God has not given us a spirit of fear. A fearful spirit is never from God. Rather, it is the devil who comes to steal, kill and destroy.
Resist destructive fear—send it back. “Return to Sender!”
2. Fear God.
We know fear is a natural human emotion that moderates our behaviour. Fearing God is a great behavioural moderator. The fear of God is an essential cornerstone of a God-centred leadership style.
3. Practice the presence of God.
The famous 23rd Psalm tells us, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, because you are with me.”
What we meditate on becomes magnified in our lives. The more we focus on the problems, the more fear intensifies its grip and leaves us paralysed. Conversely, the more we allow God’s promises and greatness to dominate our thinking, the less fear can grip us. Intentionally practice the presence of God in your life and continue to meditate on His reassuring promises.
4. Allow more of God and His love into your life.
1 John 4:18 tells us that perfect love casts out fear. In 1 John 4:8 we also read that God is love. Therefore, the way we discover perfect love is to allow more of God into our lives. And as we allow more of God into our lives, the less room there is for fear.
This is an irony of the Christian life.If you are struggling with fear in your leadership, the antidote you need is not courage—it is love.
Would you join me today in the pursuit of fear-less leadership? Do not attempt to rid yourself of all fear or you will miss out on healthy, God-given, protective behavioural moderation. However, don’t allow fear to paralyse you and prevent you from stepping forward into all God has for you.
Instead, let’s be leaders who find godly balance as we serve and fear Him.
Jossy Chacko (GLS 2016) leads Empart International, a global ministry that exists to ignite holistic community transformation among the unreached people of Asia. With a goal to see 100,000 communities transformed by 2030 through establishing community groups, they are on track, averaging 11 communities/day transformed during 2015. Providing leadership to a team of more than 6,500 in seven countries, Jossy uses his gifts as a communicator to challenge business and spiritual leaders to capture a larger, God-sized vision. Learn more about Jossy and his ministry here.
Ashlyn Ochoa plays a critical role in the success of The Global Leadership Summit. She splits her time as a producer with both the year-round content team and the international team. In February 2018, she traveled with the U.S. production and programming teams to support the Summit in Germany, where more than 12,000 people gathered for an infusion of leadership development and inspiration.
After a full morning of rehearsals and checks, a calm had finally settled over the 12,000 person auditorium. But not for long. A deep German voice came over the intercom, “Doors opening in 3…2…1.” As soon as we heard those words, the programming and production team knew to hold tight. The doors flung open and crowds of people rushed in. If you had a bird’s eye view, it surely must have looked like a mound of ants piling on top of each other. The room came alive as noises of laughter, chatter and shuffling feet filled the auditorium. Each person had one goal—to get the best seat in the house.
Close your eyes and imagine it. Do you know why they were so excited? Because they knew that what was about to unfold in that room could potentially change the course of their life.
Leitungskongress 2018 had officially begun. That’s when it hit me.
The Summit in Germany changes lives. People are inspired, encouraged and challenged to grow in their relationship with God and learn something new to impact their sphere of influence. They’re hungry for this. Why? Because it works.
I had heard that the Germany Summit was impactful, large and life-changing. But I didn’t fully grasp it until I was there in person. Here are the three driving forces that bring these German leaders together:
People want to be challenged
No matter what country we lead in, God created us to make an impact. And he created us with a capacity to grow. The Germans want this challenge just as much as anyone. Throughout all the sessions, there was a clear atmosphere of expectancy. People were ready to hear every word out of the speakers’ mouths. They engaged in worship. They responded to the programming pieces. They came into that auditorium expecting to be challenged.
The Summit unites people
The Summit events all over the world unite people, but there seems to be something unique about the way this happens in Germany. Two teams from different cultures coming together to become one is reflective of the Kingdom. Multiple denominations come together with the same goal in mind—to learn and grow. Cultural, theological, ethnic and generational differences are set aside and the Kingdom of God emerges.
There is hope!
As an American, it’s easy to get caught up in the cultural messages and turmoil we face in our country. But when you get to step outside home base and into another culture, you realize we’re not alone. Every nation is facing pressing issues. And then you realize—we don’t just face cultural and political problems, we have a human problem. We, as humans, have separated ourselves from God and there is only one hope—Jesus.
When I stepped into the Summit in Germany, I could feel hope in the air. Hope for people to find reconciliation, for cities to be changed, for people to find healing and purpose and meaning. God has entrusted the Church with his message of hope, and the Summit became the vehicle to help encourage and spur on that hope the Germans have for their nation.
Why I love the Summit
All of these things are why I love the Summit. In every country and culture the same thing happens. People long to get better, the Summit unites people across lines of division, hope is spurred on and God’s Church goes forth. God is doing something unique in this day. What a privilege it is to experience something like this through the Global Leadership Summit in Germany.
Denzel Washington has been one of the most influential actors in Hollywood for multiple decades. We are thrilled to welcome him to the 2018 Global Leadership Summit faculty.Check out this list of 8 facts to learn about his journey to leadership, his relationship with Christ, and more.
When Denzel was 20 years old and struggling through college at Fordham University in the Bronx, he received a written prophecy from a woman at his mother’s beauty salon. She told him, “You’re going to speak to millions of people. You’re going to do great things.” He has held on to this piece of paper to remind him that God has his back.
Denzel’s dad was a Pentecostal minister who led two churches. He describes a spirit-filled man who impacted the lives of so many individuals.
Denzel met Pauletta Pearson on the set of the television movie Wilma, and married her on June 25, 1983. They have four kids, and he is very involved in their lives. When his children were younger, Denzel would take them to their sports games and school events saying that, “family is life, and entertainment is fantasy.”
Denzel attended the Boys and Girls Club of America when he was six years old, and he credits that organization with teaching him many of the lessons that led him to where he is today. He has been their national spokesperson since 1993 and frequently appears in their public service and awareness campaigns.
Denzel says he reads his Bible every day, and in a speech to Dillard University’s graduating class in 2015, he encouraged the students to “put God first.”
While visiting Atlanta to promote his movie Fences, Denzel visited his childhood librarian, Miss Connie, to wish her a happy 99th birthday. Although they hadn’t seen each other in nearly 50 years, she had never forgotten him.
Actor Tom Hanks declared that he learned more about acting from Denzel than anyone else. Hanks said that working on the Philadelphia set with Denzel was like going to film school.
Denzel is only the sixth actor ever to win Oscars for both Best Supporting Actor and Best Actor.
Denzel Washington — Actor, Director, Producer; Multiple Academy Award Winner. Denzel is an actor who searches for challenges through numerous, varied film and stage roles. The son of a minister, he received the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Awardin 2016. He directed and starred in the films Antwone Fisher, The Great Debaters, and Fences. For his latest critically acclaimed film, Roman J. Israel, Esq., Denzel was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor.
A fascinating new book by GLS faculty alumnus Daniel Pink (GLS 2010), When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, explores the relationship between timing and leadership effectiveness. Recently, the GLS team sat down with him to discuss his findings.
GLS: As leaders, we are always searching for new ways to grow our abilities, invest in the people we lead, spread our vision and increase our impact. Often we invest time into discovering the “how” behind these skills; however, you would argue the “when” is just as important. How does learning the value of “when” have the potential to increase our leadership capacity and enhance our leadership skills?
Daniel: What most leaders haven’t realized—but what the science shows very clearly—is that “when” has a material effect on people’s productivity, creativity and well-being on the job. One example is simply time of day. The research shows that our cognitive skills do not remain static over the course of a day. They vary, often considerably, in predictable ways.
Indeed, time of day effects can explain 20 percent of the variance in human performance on workplace tasks. That doesn’t mean timing is everything. But it is a big thing—and something leaders should be prepared to reckon with.
GLS:In the book you share, “I used to believe that timing was everything. Now I believe that everything is timing.” What makes timing so important in our lives, and how can it actually affect the way we lead?
Daniel: We are temporal creatures. Every cell in our body has a biological clock. And we live in a temporal environment. We move through time and organize our lives by its units. For some reason though, we’ve discounted this aspect of our lives. But it’s omnipresent, and knowing how to deal with it can make a world of difference.
GLS: One timing strategy in your book is something you call “the nappuccino.” Talk about that.
Daniel: This strategy is the recipe for a perfect nap. It turns out that the most effective naps are extremely short—between 10 and 20 minutes. Those deliver the restorative benefits of napping without what’s called “sleep inertia,” that groggy, boggy feeling we often get from sleeping too long. But the very best short nap has a twist. We should drink a cup of coffee right before napping. Since it takes about 25 minutes for caffeine to enter the bloodstream, when you wake up, you’ll get an added boost. It’s called a nappuccino, and I swear by it.
GLS: Why are endings important?
Daniel: Endings—simply being aware of an end—dramatically shape our behavior. Endings can energize us. So the impending end of a decade is one reason why people are disproportionately likely to run their first marathon at ages 29, 39, 49 or 59. Endings help us encode—that is, to evaluate and record entire experiences. That’s one reason we should pay particular attention to how customer experiences, family vacations and work projects end. Endings also help us elevate, feel better and even seek meaning. In general, we prefer rising sequences to declining sequences at the end. That too can shape how we construct experiences and interact with others.
GLS: You say, “Midpoints can bring us down. That’s the slump. But they can also fire us up. That’s the spark.” How can we take the midpoints in our own lives and leadership and turn them from slumps into sparks?
Daniel: The recipe is fairly straightforward.
First, we should recognize midpoints. Any undertaking with a beginning and an end, by its very nature, has a midpoint.
Second, once we recognize the midpoint, we should consciously use it as a call to wake up rather than to roll over.
Third, one way to wake up is to imagine that you’re “slightly” behind.
GLS: You suggest there are 86 days in the year when an individual can make a fresh start. What are those days and why are they significant?
Daniel: Certain dates operate as what researchers call “temporal landmarks.” They stand out in time the way physical landmarks stand out in space. They get us to slow down, and then to perform a peculiar kind of mental accounting. On these “fresh start dates,” we relegate our old imperfect selves to the past and open up a fresh ledger on our new better selves.
This is why you’re more likely to start—to be successful in sustaining a new diet, exercise plan or work approach if you start it on a Monday rather than a Thursday, on the first of the month rather than the 13th of the month or on the day after your birthday rather than the day before your birthday.
GLS: In the book, you teach that each individual has a chronotype that can be determined through a tool in the book. Each reader can identify if they are a Lark, a Third Bird, or an Owl. Why is it important for leaders to understand their chronotype?
Daniel: Leaders should understand their own chronotype, but equally important, the chronotypes of those they lead. Whether we rise early and fall asleep early, or rise late and fall asleep late, plays a role in our performance and well-being at work.
GLS: What is one step every leader can take to utilize the value of “when” to enhance their leadership?
Daniel: One of the simplest has to do with endings. At some point, every leader says, “I’ve got some good news and some bad news.” Which should she deliver first? The conventional view is to give the good news first as a way to ease into the conversation and lay down a cushion before bringing down the hammer. But that’s the wrong approach. Research shows that most people want the “bad news” first. Why? Given a choice, human beings prefer endings that elevate. So the next time you’ve got good news and bad news to report, lead with the bad, and follow with the good. You’ll see the difference.
Are you looking for ways to improve your career, jumpstart your team or develop a work culture that produces growth in your organization?
By attending The Global Leadership Summit, Martin Flores, enterprise solutions architect for Intel, was not only encouraged as a leader when he felt like giving up, but he was also equipped with the very tools that helped him accomplish new career goals and elevate his team to produce more growth than they thought possible.
“For six years, I worked for managers who had diminishing management styles, making it extremely difficult for career growth and opportunities,” Martin explains. “They took credit for other people’s ideas and accomplishments and did not offer coaching, mentorship or career development. During that time, I was attending the Summit and learned a different approach to leadership.”
Martin credits the Summit and what the Holy Spirit prompted in him with becoming the leader he wished to see in his organization. The results were far greater than he imagined.
These are the four ways Martin stopped wishing, and started leading, which ultimately led him to the new leadership position he’s in today:
Update your career development plan
The 2013 GLS changed everything for me! I stopped wishing and hoping for changes in our leadership and I changed my career path from an individual contributor technical engineer and decided to return to management. I updated my career development plan to focus completely on management and leadership and shared it with my managers. This informed them of the direction I was going to pursue in their organization.
Lead by example
I hit the ground running. Since there was a lack of leadership and employee development in our department, there were several managers struggling to manage their teams. I volunteered for a management position leading a team of three. This created opportunities for me to lead by example, and be the leader I wished to see in our organization.
My dream and vision was to be part of a high-performing and high-morale organization. I wanted us to become healthy and thriving, full of employees who felt valued, supported and connected to their work. I had worked in great organizations before and I wanted to experience it again. So I began focusing on developing my employees’ careers and their skills. As a result, their morale improved, communication and trust increased and our performance grew. While other managers were struggling, my team was soaring. So I offered to help solve some critical issues in another engineering environment.
Clearly communicate a plan of action
I shared my ideas for solving the critical issues with my manager, which was a struggle, because my manager was more focused on how the issues reflected on his career than on the fact that a new approach from a thriving team could solve our problems. There was a lot of tension and I even contemplated quitting working for my manager. But I prayed about it and I decided to wait and see if the issues continued.
I wondered if things would get bad enough for him to ask for help. Three days later, there were catastrophic test failures. This time the issues were escalated by other engineering managers, and hit the inbox of two of our VPs, which then made it back to my manager. He reached out for help, and it was time to resolve this ASAP. I explained the process and the timeline for a temporary fix until we could solve the core issue. It was time to act.
Build a high performance team
The temporary fix worked for a few days, but then began failing, which led to panic and frustration within upper management. Collaboration was key. I assigned my two most experienced engineers to investigate the issue based on a key item I discovered was failing every night. They met with other engineers and within one hour, they had the missing information we needed to solve the root cause of the issues. Two weeks later my team successfully resolved it!
Later, I volunteered to take on managing another engineering team, and they became high performing within six months. God multiplied my opportunities and sphere of influence when I sought His guidance to lead by example. I was managing eleven employees and a year later, I started to lead a third team with a total of 21 employees under my leadership. I took the same approach with each team— to focus on their career development. Building a high performance team makes all the difference in your organization!
These four steps take faith and perseverance—it’s all worth it in the end
During the years when I managed these teams, my employees received the best performance reviews of their careers. I left the position with great satisfaction in how God had moved and motivated me and provided me with the physical and emotional energy I needed to make a positive difference in other people’s careers and my own.
The journey wasn’t always easy. Several times I almost quit, but every time I was at my lowest point, God showed up in the most amazing ways. He used the Holy Spirit and whispered words of encouragement and perseverance that spoke to the core of my soul. God followed up on the whispers of the Holy Spirit with words of encouragement and perseverance from a co-worker.
My co-worker said, You are doing great, man! I don’t know how you’re doing it, but you are cleaning things up and people are noticing it. Keep doing what you are doing. People need you! He prayed for me and asked God to bless me with the courage and energy to keep fighting the good fight.
God is so good!
There is another story of redemption in all of this. In 2006 my wife was diagnosed with alcoholism and bi-polar disease and she decided she no longer wanted to be married or be a mother to our children. By 2009, I lost my marriage, my house, my credit, my retirement and my career. But I held on tightly to God and now in 2018, I am so blessed by God with the highest position of my career, and a home for my kids. And God blessed me with the gift of being able to help several other people achieve their career goals along the way.
Why attend the Summit and bring your team?
The wisdom and experiences shared at the GLS are priceless. If you think you don’t have the time or money to attend, that could be a sign of why you need to be there. Pray about it and God will answer.
Embrace a growth mindset and support your employees’ desires for career development and self-growth. Support them and in turn they will support you.
The Global Leadership Summit has taken place in 21 locations so far in Brazil alone this 2017/18 season, with more events taking place as we speak. By the end of the season, the GLS will have reached more than 18,000 leaders in Brazil. Thank you for supporting and praying for God’s blessing on the impact of these events!
Be inspired by what has already taken place:
Digging Wells in In São Mateus
A lady who works with the mayor’s team was greatly impacted by the Greenly’s grander vision story about digging wells. In São Mateus, they have been facing issues on providing clean water for all regions of the city. Most of the people were receiving salty water in their tap. After seeing the story of this businessman, she took the case to the city council and created a project to dig wells in each region.
Her project was approved and the city has been able to bring good, fresh water for all but three of the regions in the city so far. The last few should be completed in the next month.
Health insurance and care for low income families
An entrepreneur in São Mateus was moved by Liz Bohannon’s grander vision story about the sandals in Uganda. He said, I don’t have a sandal business, but I do work with health insurance plans!
Since the Summit, he started a special project to offer 50%, 70% and 100% discounts for those with little to no income, and offer them a health program. He also partnered with another businessman to provide sports equipment for a social project that serves the kids in the slums. The host church is investing its time and energy to get volunteers to run this project to evangelize and provide hope and care to the kids living there.
Impact on inmates, the military and police in in São Paulo
Summit host partner, Batista do Povo, continues to build on its relationship with the different facets of the military force. In the past couple of months, a church member answered God’s whisper to provide Bibles to all the inmates in the Federal Police penitentiary. This member involved her pastor and church in the idea and shared how she was completing her law degree at the location where the most influential cases are being investigated for the state of São Paulo.
The inmates spend 20 hours each day in their cell and four hours outside. They are not allowed to see anyone except their lawyer. As the lawyers gave out Bibles, many inmates expressed gratitude; some even cried. The impact was greater than anyone could imagine.
The Federal Police superintendent received reports of some of the testimonies and changes in the inmates and asked to speak to the intern and her pastor. The pastor sent Col. Terra, one of the colonels behind the Military Summit and police chaplain ministry in the city. The Federal Police force has now has asked that the church provide support and a chaplain every two weeks at the Federal Police office in São Paulo. Talks of another influential military Summit are underway with this partner church, chaplains and colonels.
Atheist accepts Christ in Porto Velho
A well-known atheist attended the Summit for the first time. On the first day of the Summit, the team added a live speaker interview of someone who struggled with forgiveness. Following the session with Imacullee Iibagiza, the man was so moved by the testimonies, could no longer contain himself. He accepted Christ the same day!
Many more people attend the Summit in Governador Valadares than registered
A member of the church had little faith that the Summit event would have more than 15 participants. She kept telling the pastor to cancel the event due to the crises they were facing. During the Summit she cried almost the entire time as she saw so many attend, and heard so many testimonies shared. She asked her pastor for forgiveness for doubting the impact the Summit had on her and so many in her community.
Thank you for being a part of the impact of the Summit in Brazil!
If you’ve ever been in a room full of co-workers engaged in a team-building exercise, chances are you’ve heard the question, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?”
It’s a good question that has been asked so frequently, it has nearly lost all of its poignancy. So let me ask the question in another way.
If fear were obsolete, what dreams would you take action on?
At the 2017 Global Leadership Summit, Gary Haugen brilliantly coined the phrase, “Fear is the silent destroyer of dreams.”
Fear is sown in silence, fertilized in the shadows and grown in darkness.
Fear is often an unseen virus that takes down the mightiest of dreamers and discourages the bravest of leaders.
So in a world desperately in need of courageous, fearless leaders, how do we face the silent destroyer of dreams and come out on the other side victorious?
Here are three ways to combat the fear in your leadership:
1) Name it
If fear thrives in the dark and chokes in the light, then the greatest step we can take to avoid this silent destroyer is to name the fear.
I can still remember what it felt like the first time I voiced a fear that had consumed me for months. I was walking around in what felt like a fog. Fear had already taken over so much of my life.
When I finally began to speak it, it spilled out of my mouth so quickly it almost scared me.
The tears came and it felt like my fear lay all over the floor, ugly, exposed and messy, for everyone to see.
But instead of judgement, I heard hope. I experienced freedom.
Freedom will never come if we refuse to voice our fears.
Freedom comes when we take a dose of humility, name the fears and allow them to lie open and exposed for trusted people to see.
2) Own it
Have you ever tried to convince someone it isn’t your fault that fear just happens to inhabit your every thought and action?
Perhaps the fear comes from a family sin pattern, or someone treated you in a way that caused fear, or the fear is just a part of your culture.
There may be legitimate reasons for your fear. However, legitimate reasons do not give us license to indulge the fear.
Every fear has the potential to be uprooted and thrown out. Fearless leaders own their responsibility in this process.
If you cannot own your own ability to overcome your fear, you will never experience freedom from it.
Own your role in it.
Own your ability to rise above it.
3) Fight against it
In a world inundated with self-help books and how-to guides, there are so many messages telling us if we fight harder, fight smarter or fight better, we can defeat the fear that overcomes us.
But I would disagree.
On your own, you cannot defeat the fear in your life.
The good news is that we serve a God who invites you to join Him as He defeats the fear in your life.
He invites you to drown your fears in His word, to fill your minds with His teachings, to surrender all your thoughts to Him and then to work diligently to fix your mind on His truth.
Philippians 4:8 reminds us, Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Fear is not a passive enemy. We must take real action and engage a serious strategy to defeat it.
We simply cannot approach the fight against our fear with apathy.
May we, as leaders, name the fear, own the fear and fight against the fear in order to unleash the dreams God has given us for His world.
Hannah Gronowski is the founder and director of Generation Distinct, GenerationDistinct.com, an organization that exists to inspire and equip the next generation to discover their passions and fight for justice in order to make God’s name great in this world. She has a passion to empower the next generation to become leaders and difference makers in a way that sparks a global movement. Hannah is also an author, blogger and speaker and lives in the Chicagoland area.
We all know that identifying and deploying talented people is an essential skill for any leader. But knowing how to spot talent can also be a challenge.
Savvy leaders know that every person you hire impacts the culture of your organization. A good hire can have exponentially positive effects on your momentum. A poor hire can cost you significant time and resources for lost productivity and team morale…not to mention your sanity!
You’ve likely heard the mantra, “Hire slow, fire fast.” This quip exists for good reason. Building and developing your team is the most important work you’ll do as a leader. However, this work requires the discipline of intentionality to observe great talent and effectively recruit and empower it.
When you are able to pair the gifts of an individual with the needs of the organization, I believe something divinely beautiful happens. It’s an art form in which you’ve become the master. While from the outside looking in, it may appear like magic, talent scouting is far from a mysterious process. And extraordinary leaders know the key: being able to identify potential.
Great leaders see potential.
Potential by definition means you see possibility. You see what isn’t proven yet. This is perhaps the scariest of human resource gambles for us as leaders. When we hire on potential, we’re hiring on what we believe could be true about an employee. We’re claiming to see what others don’t see…oftentimes seeing something in the employee that they don’t even see in themselves. This requires high belief but it’s undergirded by keen discernment.
And lest you be concerned with relying solely on your intuition to identify potential, a Harvard Business Review piece defined potential as encompassing five key qualities: motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement and determination.
Here are the essential questions I have used to assess these five qualities in people.
Does the candidate demonstrate a drive and commitment to get things done? Are they a self-starter? Do they show initiative for new projects or a willingness to take on more responsibility? Are they committed to their own personal growth and development? Do they seek out opportunities for continued education (formal or informal)?
Do they ask questions and request feedback? Are they eager to find new solutions to recurring problems? Do they show interest in others? Do they seek to understand the bigger picture? Are they quick to judge or are they interested in understanding someone else’s perspective?
Do they have good instincts? Can they see alternative solutions? Are they able to anticipate needs and adapt to change? Do they offer ideas and support to their peers? Are they aware of how they are perceived by others? Do they have a healthy perspective on their strengths while comfortably acknowledging their weaknesses? Do they own their responsibility in outcomes, both good and bad? Do they know how to build trust and foster relationships?
Are they all in? Are they committed to the mission and vision of the organization? Are they dedicated to their team? Do they actively participate in conversations and step up to leadership opportunities when they arise? Are they respected by their peers for their ability to work together and learn from others? Do they work cooperatively with others and seek to understand the perspective of other team members?
Are they resilient? Can they rebound from a setback? Do they bring energy and optimism to team meetings? Do they engage a solution mindset to problem solving? Do they see roadblocks or just obstacles they have to find a way over?
Spotting potential, developing it and watching it flourish are some of my greatest joys as a leader. In my experience, the technical competency of an individual is secondary to the core elements of potential. Give me someone who has potential and I’ll invest the time and resources to teach them the competencies they need to succeed.
Potential is your secret weapon. Not only are you finding that proverbial “diamond in the rough,” but also by believing in someone’s potential you are planting seeds of belief and commitment that may lead to long-term dedication to you and the organization.
Jenni Catron is a writer, speaker and leadership expert committed to helping others lead from their extraordinary best. A leader who loves “putting feet to vision,” she has served on the executive leadership teams of Menlo Church in Menlo Park, CA and Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN. Outreach Magazine has recognized Jenni as one of the 30 emerging influencers reshaping church leadership. She is the author of several books, including her latest The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership.
Julius Msheliza is a pastor from northern Nigeria, where he also serves as the GLS coordinator for both the event, and year-round initiatives in that part of the country. After attending the GLS in 2016, he was inspired to start a ministry to serve widows and their children who’ve been affected by the insurgency of Boko Haram. (NOTE: Boko Haram is a Suni Islamist militant organization based in Nigeria.) Julius’ influence is lifting women and children out of hopelessness, and giving them opportunities to thrive.
The Bible says, in this world we will have many tribulations. But Jesus says, be of good cheer for I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
We take encouragement from God’s word knowing that He will be with us when we pass through the water, when we go through fire.
For the past six years in northern Nigeria, we’ve been grappling with the Boko Haram insurgency, which has claimed over 20,000 lives and rendered so many women widows and so many children orphans. We have 36 states in Nigeria. Six states are now under the insurgency. It’s a really bad situation.
Because of the Summit, my life changed in so many ways. However, it was a watershed moment in my life in 2016.
Bill Hybels shared a story about his visit to Jordan where he met a Syrian refugee woman with a nine-year old son who had a droopy eye. Because of bullying from classmates, he had dropped out of school. I remember Bill said he felt moved to assist that young man so he could return to school.
Bill said he didn’t solve the refugee problem in Syria, but he did help that little boy return to school and get his life back.
That story really left a mark on my life. Then John Maxwell capped it off with his message on intentional living.
From that Summit I made up my mind that for the rest of my life, I would look for ways to add value to people.
After the event a few friends and I decided to raise money to assist the widows and give them capital to engage in business so they could put food on their table. So far we have been able to empower about 50 widows. We haven’t solved the problem there, but we are touching their lives in small ways.
The joy and celebration we saw that day on the faces of the widows we helped was a life-changing experience for me. We have now decided to expand the program to bring in more widows and to start forms of skill acquisition that will further help them out of hopelessness and misery. We know God will help us.
One woman’s story in particular especially touches my heart. Her husband was a pastor, and the Boko Haram killed her husband and burned down their church. She became more destitute because there was no breadwinner in her family.
By giving her capital so she could to start a business, she has been able to send her children back to school.
This is very, very important to us because in order to break the cycle of poverty, you need to educate the children. For her to be able to send her children back to school is a big deal.
Every time I get messages from the women, they tell me they are praying for me, for God to keep me so I can live longer and help more women.
We’ve also seen other pastors coming on board trying to help people around them who are also in poverty, inspiring more people to do something for their community.
Thank you for making the GLS available in my country!
Nigeria, like any other African country, has a leadership problem. Corruption is one of the major challenges we have in Nigeria. It is one of the reasons we have so much poverty. The quality of our nation depends on the quality of the leaders we are raising.
To raise and multiply leaders will bring about a change in my community, my society and my country at large. The GLS has given us that platform and the resources to do that. This is the biggest desire of my heart.
I appreciate you for creating this platform that empowers leaders in churches and in businesses. I want to ask them to continue to do the good work. I believe the good Lord will reward you for the good work you are doing. I’m eternally grateful to Willow Creek Association and The Global Leadership Summit for giving me the tools and resources to become a change agent in my community and the world. Mega blessings to you.
I am a big fan of lists—to-do lists, prayer lists, goal lists, grocery lists, even lists that track what I eat every day. Never, ever have I added “a pause that refreshes” to my to-do list in order to give me what Juliet Funt calls WhiteSpace.
Until after the 2017 Global Leadership Summit.
Juliet Funt described the importance of adding WhiteSpace to our days, or taking strategic breaks in order to recharge our mind and body. I listened to the revolutionary idea that taking a pause could deepen introspection and spark creativity.
As a writer, deadlines drive my days—often sending me careening around corners at breakneck speed and screeching to a halt across the work finish line, sweaty and out of breath. I arrived at my deadlines just in time to jump onto the treadmill of the next looming deadline.
Finishing a project with minutes to spare gave me a temporary adrenaline rush, but it sucked the life out of my creativity.
There is a better way.
Graphic designers intentionally add white space to a page because they understand its importance. Adding blank, empty space to a page makes everything easier to read and absorb. I had to become as intentional as a graphic designer about adding WhiteSpace to my life.
The week after the Summit, I set out to incorporate WhiteSpace into my life.
And I started small.
There is no perfect method to adding WhiteSpace, just as there is no perfect way to manage time (or better…protect time). It’s a matter of finding what works.
Here are 5 WhiteSpace additions that are working for me.
Block digital distractions.
I have been guilty of responding to emails as soon as they ping my inbox. And I’m embarrassed by how easily I can get sucked into the internet. I venture into the World Wide Web to verify a fact and 30 minutes later, I’m shopping for shoes on Amazon. There are several good apps that can block distractions like these. I use one called SelfControl that allows me to set my own restrictions.
Schedule WhiteSpace into my daily routine.
I schedule my prayer time with God. Why not schedule a bit of downtime? I started by writing down everything on my schedule, then squeezing in the WhiteSpace. That worked okay, but what works better is putting in the big calendar events, then scheduling the WhiteSpace before adding all the pesky, but necessary tasks on my to-do list.
Add breathing space between meetings.
If I received an invitation to a 10 a.m. meeting and I already had a 9 a.m. meeting, there was a good chance those meetings would overlap. I accepted the 9 a.m. meeting with a condition—I had to leave at 9:45. Sharp. I closed my eyes and waited for the fall out, and was pleasantly surprised when frequently, the originator of the meeting either adjusted the time or said, “No problem.” It only gave me a few minutes, but I arrived on time and unstressed.
What can I let go of?
I can’t do it all. No one can. The trick is deciding what I must do and what I can let go of. I removed my Wonder Woman bracelets and became more realistic about my capabilities. After I generate my to-do list, I take a close look. There are things I don’t need to do. I can delegate. I can reschedule. I can say no. (Those bracelets never really worked for me anyway.)
Protect my time—and be brutal.
Adding WhiteSpace has made me more accessible and available. Quite frankly, it has made me a better friend.
Protecting my time means saying no to some things so I can say yes to things that are a priority. It isn’t easy, especially when it means saying no to good things. I’ll be honest, I’m still trying to get a handle on this, but I’m better at it than I was a few months ago.
The intentional addition of WhiteSpace to my life has given me better sleep, more clarity, focus, breathing room and more creative energy.
It’s worth it.
How do you add WhiteSpace to your life?
Susan DeLay is a freelance writer, editor and the author of the newspaper column DeLayed Reaction. She co-authors the blog 3 Writers in a Café on the Chicago Tribune’s “Chicago Now” website and handles media relations and PR for Willow Creek Association. Susan’s first novel Saving Jesus publishes in March 2018.