Leadership Thoughts from Catalyst One Day

I spent Monday in Dallas at the Catalyst One Day Conference with Andy Stanley (Senior Pastor of Northpoint Community Church) and Craig Groeschel (Senior Pastor of Lifechurch.tv).  It was well worth the time. Reflecting on the day, here’s a few key take-a-aways worth any leader’s time.


Leadership Thoughts from Andy Stanley:
  • “A lack of momentum does not bother most churches, but it does both leaders.”  For many churches, lack of momentum isn’t bothersome until it affects finances.  What does that say about some churches?  Is money more important than mission?  True leaders are clearly bothered by a lack of momentum because they understand its direct bearing on the fulfillment of the church’s mission.
  • “Launching new things is expensive and disruptive.  That’s why most churches only tweak the old.”  Bill Hybels also provides some great perspective on this very issue when he asserts the danger of incrementalism.  Incrementalism is the enemy of innovation.  Tweaking the old is nothing more than incrementalism.  Momentum increases when you do something new or make major improvements, not when you simply tweak the old with incremental adjustments.
  • “You will have more momentum from one quality new program than from five mediocre programs.”  That’s  the power of focus.  Unfortunately, many organization’s add the new program to an already busy calendar.  As a result, programs compete for attention, volunteers, and resources.  It doesn’t take long for the one new program to quickly slide into the mediocrity of the five established programs.
  • “If you’re not evaluating the areas where you’re experiencing momentum, the clock is ticking down.”  Andy provided some great perspective by challenging leaders to not only evaluate the programs that are not working, but also the programs experiencing momentum.  Failure to evaluate the “successful” programs will undermine their future.
  • “Visionaries focus on ‘what.’  Managers focus on ‘how.’  The how question can kill momentum.”  A leader cannot build momentum if the “what” of his or her vision is shut down by managers seeking to uncover the “how.”  While the how must be answered, it cannot be done so without a clear what.  Managers are needed and bring great value to organizations.  But when a manager’s search for “how” becomes more dominant than the visionaries quest for “what” it’s only a matter of time before the organization returns to business as usual.

Leadership Thoughts from Craig Groeschel:
  • “If several times a year you don’t say, ‘this is going to hurt,’ then you’re probably not leading.”  There are times in leadership when you have to sit down and have the difficult conversation with others and tell them why the program they are leading needs to change or is no longer relevant.  If you do not have these conversations, you are trying to lead from a base of fear.
  • “Do you love the vision enough to make difficult people decisions?”  Not only must programs change, but people must change.  And when people don’t change, they have to be changed (if you know what I mean).  If the growth of the organization outgrows its leaders, the leaders must be replaced with higher capacity leaders. These are difficult decisions because our emotions are tied to them.  At the end of the day, your decision about people will determine how much you love your God-given vision.
  • “Limitations can be the greatest key to innovation.  Sometimes God provides by what we do not have.”  Sometimes leaders complain about the lack of money, people, and resources to accomplish vision.  But Groeschel asserts that you will often come up with your most innovative ideas when you are faced with limitations.  Limitations can be blessings in disguise that force you to think creatively.
  • “The higher the control you have as a leader, the lower the capacity leaders you will develop.”  Powerful statement!  When leaders micromanage or become the bottleneck for decision-making, they will simply attract followers while high-capacity leaders will look for other places to serve.  Leaders do not like to be boxed in by another leader’s unwillingness to let go of decision-making power.
  • “Delegating responsibility creates followers.  Delegating authority creates leaders.”  Another great statement!  Any leader can handoff a “to do list” of responsibilities to a team member.  But it’s not until you empower people with authority that they truly develop as leaders.  What’s the difference?  Delegating responsibility means giving somebody a specific list of tasks to complete.  When they’re done, they come back for a new list.  But delegating authority means you give team members the vision and then release them to accomplish it.  Rather than coming up with the plan for your team, release them to create the plan.  The difference between the two is who has the decision-making power.  Do you make the decisions as to what your team should do to get from A to Z, or do you empower your team with the authority to make decisions that will insure the vision is accomplished.    
  • “If you think you’re the only one who can do it right, you’re insulting God and His church.”  God has gifted His body to complete His work.  If you are the only person that can do it right (whatever “it” is to see your vision fulfilled), then you are insulting God’s ability to use others and the gifts He has deposited within them.
  • “Is the way you’re doing the work of God destroying the work of God in you?”  Craig Groeschel referenced this statement made by Bill Hybels.  It’s a clear warning against burnout and a challenge to keep your relationship with God front and center. 

Great insights from two great leaders.  Which one are you most challenged by?