“Have you had your leadership bell rung recently?” challenged Bill Hybels at the recent Global Leadership Summit. “Create bold new solutions,” this consummate leader proposed, and then he went on to give practical solutions to leadership issues. It was just the beginning of the annual conference, but it paved the way for two solid days of inspiration, giving leaders all over the world an opportunity to lean forward and learn from the ‘best of the best.’
In an astonishing show of leadership muscle, speakers who have set the pace in their own arenas explained to the tens of thousands around the United States and the world, how to live out their potential, create the best working environment and lead well … for a start. “If you can’t predict the future, create it,” touted Dr. Len Schlesinger, President of Babson College which is known for creating entrepreneurs. “Stop worrying about what you want to do and think about what you want to do next,” he added. Seth Godin, Squidoo founder and entrepreneur, would concur. “The challenge, it turns out, isn’t in perfecting your ability to know when to start and when to stand by. The challenge is getting into the habit of starting,” he told the GLS audience.
Leadership, by its very essence, is relational. In a ‘where the rubber meets the road’ kind of talk, Dr. Henry Cloud spoke about dealing with “wise, foolish and evil” people. “Take the leadership challenge,” he exclaimed. “Don’t let someone else’s character problem stop your mission.” Michelle Rhee, founder and CEO of StudentsFirst.org, has never been afraid to deal with challenges or people head on. Her leadership transformed the Washington, D.C. school district, but not without controversy. “Stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves,” she said. “There’s nothing more worthwhile than fighting for children. I’m not done fighting.”
“What’s after the post-modern world?” Erwin Mcmanus, founder of The Awaken Group asked. “Whatever we choose.” This motivator is passionate about unleashing human potential and “desperate to set dreams free.” He spoke about how God is doing a new thing, and we need to “nurture the wonder inside.”
Every speaker in the Summit added momentum and created fervor to overcome and be victorious in whatever the sphere of influence. Don’t tell the Honorable Cory A. Booker, Mayor of Newark, New Jersey that something can’t be done, because he’s already done it! “Accept circumstances or take responsibility for change,” he said from experience. Booker turned the desperate attitude of inner-city Newark into a city with hope. Crime dropped and education improved under his watchful eye. “Attitude speaks to character,” Booker said.
Character was weaved into the fabric of the Summit as a foundation for the soul. John Dickson, Director of Centre for Public Christianity in Australia, said “humility is a reflection of the deep center of reality.” He also called it “practical” (as no one knows it all), and said “humility makes the great, greater.” Patrick Lencioni, who took the place of Howard Schultz at the GLS, spoke on the value of vulnerability. It was practical advice about being unpretentious and being willing to “celebrate our mistakes and acknowledge our humility.” The epitome of a servant leader is when you’re “willing to do what you ask others to do. Wash their feet.”
Nearly five hundred business, church and community leaders filled the Discovery Church host site in Orlando, FL. Mike Schirle, Pastor of Discovery East and GLS Coordinator, gave his perspective: “The Global Leadership Summit is Discovery’s opportunity to allow the Faith Community of Central Florida to be envisioned, encouraged and equipped. Each speaker delivered a message that was just what was prescribed to allow leaders to Lead Where They Are. This year’s GLS was one of the most memorable in the ten years we have been honored to host.” On a personal note, Schirle found “Steven Furtick’s season was an incredible encouragement to me… His assigned topic was Audacious Faith. He reminded me of the value of cultivating a deeper faith on my journey. He said: “If the size of your faith isn’t intimidating to you, it’s insulting to God.” I walked away wanting a more Audacious Faith!!!”
The GLS had a holistic presence to it, diving into not only business development under a clear motivational umbrella, but addressing the spiritual element and faith. Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil said “We as catalytic leaders interpret needs through eyes of faith.” This preacher had the audience shouting “Amen” in chorus to her admonition to “pray for divine mandate.” A dramatic presentation of how the sound barrier was breached paled in comparison to the fiery message that said we all “need the spiritual power of God to push us out of our comfort zone.” Mama Maggie Gobran knows exactly what her mandate is, and she’s been living it. Born into Egypt’s middle class, she knew a life of privilege. Then, as a professor in Cairo, she discovered the poorest of the poor; children living in garbage heaps, starving for food and love. Stephens Children, a ministry that matches home mentors with children, was born of this need. Veiled in a white dress from head to toe, Mama Gobran has been likened unto Mother Theresa. Quiet spoken but with breadth of knowledge and experience, she said “When one has nothing, God becomes everything. We went to help them, but they helped us to be better people.”
“I have a friend who says all we need to do is show up and ask God what it is He wants us to hear,” said Vickie Champion, a participant at GLS. “Well, the Summit rang my leadership bell. I felt the heartbeat of the Summit was real and authentic and I was challenged. I am so blessed and humbled that this opportunity was presented and I could partake – thank you all again for your love for us. Life should never be the same for me and I pray in the most audacious way it won’t.”
“Reach as high as you can,” said Mayor Booker, as the audience raised their hands. “Now reach three inches higher.” Hundreds of participants, probably the masses, stood on their tiptoes to reach for the stars and the point was indelibly planted in their brain. The speakers were diverse and their platforms ran the gamut, yet they all spoke in their own way about reaching higher … developing leadership skills, people skills, spiritual depth and personal character.
The Global Leadership Summit for 2012 is August 9-10.
“Why couldn’t your next five years be the best?”