Highlights from the Global Leadership Summit

Takeaways for small-group ministry

I really enjoyed my time at the Global Leadership Summit this year, and I was busy tweeting some of my most memorable lines so you could share in the fun. After a week of processing and thinking through the information, I have to say that I learned a lot.

I was so encouraged to hear powerful women speaking on important topics. And hearing from a pastor from Kenya was enlightening. I loved the different styles of teaching, even if they felt a bit jarring one right after another. Most of all, I was encouraged that so many were taking leadership development—discipleship—so seriously. It's a critical function of the church, and a main objective of small-group ministry.

Bill Hybels, founder and senior pastor of Willow Creek, vulnerably shared how his leadership team has been struggling to be healthy for years. But now, finally at a healthy place, he can look back and share wisdom from his mistakes. He reminded attendees that real, healthy leadership takes more courage than you think, and people are tired of gutless leaders. Instead, they want people to make real decisions and own up to mistakes. In small groups, this means leaders must be authentic with group members and not be afraid to say "I'm sorry" and "I don't know."

Gen. Colin Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State, talked a lot about leaders investing and knowing the people they oversee. After all, leaders get nowhere without willing followers—they're the ones who get the work done. Powell shared that good leaders not only know their people, they show them how their individual mission helps carry out the organization's larger mission. Then they empower their people to carry out their missions. Powell could have been a small-group coach with that kind of wisdom. Great coaches help leaders see exactly what they need to do to be successful in their role, and then empower them to lead well.

Patrick Lencioni, founder and president of The Table Group, shared three reasons people are miserable in their jobs: they feel anonymous and unseen, they feel irrelevant, and they have no way to measure how well they're doing. Small-group directors, coaches, and leaders can all apply this wisdom to the people they minister to. Get to know the people in your care—their gifts, their families, their passions. Show them how they're not only relevant but important to your ministry. Explain how they are doing something no one else could do in quite the same way. Then clearly describe what is expected of them—from a coach, to a leader, to a group member. When they know what's expected, they'll be able to measure their success.

Liz Wiseman, president of The Wiseman Group and WSJ bestselling author, shared incredible wisdom on being a leader that multiplies the talents, productivity, and wisdom of those around them. Even more, though, she shed light on how people with good intentions often diminish the people around them by accident. Multiplying boiled down to choosing to be a servant leader, someone who intentionally makes others great by believing in them and empowering them to do their job.

Dr. Brené Brown, research professor at University of Houston, shared on the importance of vulnerability, something not often associated with leadership. She went on to say that at our core, we all have three needs: love, belonging, and to be brave. While small groups often focus on the need to belong, we don't always do a good job of practicing love with one another or providing challenges that require group members to be brave. Without this, we'll never fully meet the needs of group members.

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