The Global Leadership Summit is a two-day event that is telecast LIVE from Willow’s campus near Chicago every August to more than 600+ locations in North America. Throughout the fall, Summit events take place in an additional 128 countries—translated into 60 languages. This is the 23rd annual Global Leadership Summit being broadcast around the world to more than 400K people.

Bill Hybels is the Founder and Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago where more than 25,000 attend weekly services across eight area locations. He founded the Global Leadership Summit with a commitment to develop and mentor leaders worldwide. Hybels is the best-selling author of more than 20 books. Bill Hybels kicked off the event as usual. Below are my notes on his talk.

The Power of Humility

  • Everyone wins when a leader gets better.
  • The highest value of the GLS is humility.

“Armed with enough humility leaders can learn from anyone!”

  • It’s all about humility and all about learning.

Planting Leadership Seeds

Bill starts out by telling a childhood story about a prank he pulled when he was 10 years old. Even though the teacher was not pleased with him for pulling the prank the teacher recognized he was a great leader.

Even though she punished him for his misdeeds, she had the awareness to recognize potential greatness in this 10-year-old student. The teacher spoke positive truth into his life at this early age.

She saw that in order to pull this prank off it involved Bill getting the entire class to participate simultaneously and 100% participated. She told him that you are going to be quiet a leader someday, I only hope it will be for good, not bad.

This caused a 10-year-old kid to ask himself this question; Am I a leader or just a trouble maker? This desk prank led to a substitute teacher recognizing and affirming Bill’s natural leadership abilities at an early age. She planted leadership seeds in his life that helped grow him into the leader he is today.

  • Can you name the person who first identified you as a leader?
  • Who can you help identify as a leader?

We all owe huge debts to those who planted leadership seeds in us over the years. There are none of got where we are today by ourselves.

Bill recently wrote notes to the top 5 people who had helped and influenced him along his journey.

Table 18 Conversations

We must be about the business of planting leadership seeds in others.

Recently Bill took a couple of minutes to recognize the great service of a particular server at the hotel he was staying in. Bill told her how much he appreciated her great service and ask about her career aspirations. She indicated she had a desire to go to school and study hotel management.  He told her he thought she would be great at a career in hotel leadership.  she wrote him a note of gratitude saying no one had ever encouraged her

This so moved her that she wrote him a note of gratitude that he received at checkout the next morning. She said no one had ever affirmed or encouraged her. This 2 minutes conversation planted leadership seeds in this young lady. She told him that she would always think about it when she served Table 18 where he was sitting that day.

Bill now refers to this as a Table 18 Conversation. This refers to taking a moment and planting a leadership seed when the opportunity presents itself.


  1. Over the next 7 days write a note and express your gratitude to 5 people who helped you in your leadership journey.
  2. Recommit to planting leadership seeds in the lives of other leaders.

Leading in a Climate Divisiveness

  • Lots of questions around the world for this
  • Racial, religious and sexist division
  • Where will this increased path of disrespect and division lead us?
  • 25% experience act of disrespect once per week
  • Incivility has hard cost on workers, drop 50% in productivity
  • How do we lead in this environment?
  • It begins with me
  • How I ask people under my influence to behave is about all I can control
  • Respect Everyone Always-sermon-we all have value from all Mighty God
  • 1 Peter 2:17-show proper respect to everyone

10 Rules of Respect

  1. Leaders must set the example on how to differ with others without demonizing them.
  2. Leaders must set the example of how to have spirited conversations without drawing blood.
  3. Leaders must not interrupt others who are talking and must not dominate the conversation.
  4. Leaders must set the example of limiting their volume levels and refusing to use incendiary words or belittling words that guarantee to derail a discussion.
  5. Leaders must set the example of being courteous in word and deed to everyone at every level.
  6. Leaders must never stereotype.
  7. Leaders must apologize immediately when they are wrong, instead of denying or doubling down.
  8. Leaders must form opinions carefully and stay open minded if better information comes along.
  9. Leaders must set the example of showing up when they say they are going to show up and doing what they say they are going to do.
  10. Leaders must set “Rules for Respect” for everyone in the organization and enforce them relentlessly.


  • Convene a meeting in the next 30 days to develop a written code of respect that all employees sign and agree to.

Sample from one company:

  1. We will greet and acknowledge each other
  2. Say please and thank you
  3. Treat each other equally and with respect
  4. Be direct sensitive and honest
  5. Address incivility ruthlessly

Those we lead are dying for us to challenge them and bring the best out of them

When is last time you researched the type of organization you want to build?


Bill walked us through the process that he has led Willow Creek through over the past 6 years to develop a succession plan for himself. It was initiated after being challenged by one of his board members. He challenged all organizations to take a hard look at their succession plans and provided some guidance and lessons learned during the process.

3 Key Elements to Developing a Plan Effectively

  1. Who? Who will make this decision?
  2. When? Putting a date is a tough process, put an end date on the calendar.
  3. How? How will process be led, clarity is essential

Four Aspects of Developing an Effective Succession Plan

  1. Planning
  2. Internal Candidates: Internal successors have must greater likelihood to be successful in most organizations.
  3. External: You must decide on internal vs external
  4. Transition: You must develop clear transition plan

Bill’s Take Aways from going through the process:

  • Having a great succession road map is worth the work.
  • You must keep succession journey bathed in prayer.
  • You must keep personalities out of it.
  • A 6 years process been too long.
  • If it is too long it will motivate the leader to move on.
  • If it takes too long it causes drag on the vision of the organization.
  • If it takes too long it will also delay any restructuring needs to take place.
  • The process took an emotional toll on the team.
  • We made a tiny process mistake that caused a good deal of pain.
    • When the Board was doing their due diligence on his recommendations, they got disconnected from Bill. The Board needed to better communication through their process with Bill and keep him in the loop. When they came up with their conclusions that differed some from his, he felt left out and reacted in not the best manner, perhaps overreacted to their recommendations. They ultimately came out with a better solution than he his original plan but it was bumpy for a period of time.
  • Bill got wise counsel to keep him straight during these bumpy times. Proverbs 11:14
  • God always orchestrates our lives for His glory and our good.
  • The process is hard and it gets delicate at times.
  • He was told by Jack Welch “That it is almost impossible to transition from one leader to another perfectly”
  • Find some safe friends and tell them what you are going through.

God writes a customized story for us and invites us to come along on the journey. God had a better story than I could have ever scripted for myself. God is an equal opportunity story writer.Many times God writes an ending to the story we are currently in to take us into a new story line

  • Bill recognized that he has not done a good job of helping others discern the ending of their current story in order to discover what God has in store for them next.
  • Willow was always just going to be a season in his life. He now has excitement about what new story God will write in the days
  • Endings matter too! May matter much more than I realized.

Closing Challenges:

Chair Time

  • Spend 15 minutes in the morning reading and reflecting on your life, leadership, faith, family.
    • Bill has a big concern about leaders not having reflecting time.
    • Leaders who have crashed have pushed all reflecting time out of their lives.

Grander Vision

  • Business world leaders, Make this year of the grander vision, find an organization in your community you can participate in and help out in some way. A place you can serve.
    • Mere financial success should bore you. God made us for so much more
    • This plan for your life and business can be a change maker
    • Gave an example of a lawn care company that does lawn care for free for small NPOs in their area.
    • What life are you waiting for to get in grander vision business?

Intentionally Develop A Healthy Culture

  • Measure the health of your organization’s culture, take steps to make your culture healthy.
    • Your culture will only ever be as healthy as the top leader wants it to be.
  • Do you have a personal betterment plan for your leadership growth for the upcoming year?
    • The best leaders have a plan
    • Podcast
    • Books
    • Conferences
    • Journal
    • Take personal responsibility for your leadership growth.
  • Are you leading on the home front as well as you lead at work?
    • Relationship with God
    • Marriage
    • Kids
    • Leaders do you need someone to take you on a long walk and ask you the hard questions about your home life?
    • Lead well and love well on the home front!
    • Today you can make a course correction that could alter your family’s future.

Learn To Lead

Join to get our latest content by email.

Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit