Global Leadership Summit: Quotes & Takeaways

One strategic choice a leader can make is to continue to learn, grow, and gain inspiration and insight from other leaders. Every year, I attend a simulcast of the Global Leadership Summit — a truly global event that reaches over 300,000 people in 150+ countries. It was started 20+ years ago by Willow Creek Church and Bill Hybels. Even with it’s faith-based foundation, it reaches business leaders and people from all walks of life in a powerful way.

Overall, it’s a 2-day event with 15 speakers and an almost non-stop firehose of insight, action steps, and truth. Past speakers and interviews have included Bill Gates, Seth Godin, Brené Brown, Susan Cain, Liz Wiseman, Condoleezza Rice, Craig Groeschel, Daniel Pink, Colin Powell, , Bono, Tony Dungy, Jim Collins, Cory Booker, and Tony Blair.

It’s too much to try and summarize of the great talks and insights from 2016 — so I’m going to give you some key quotes and thoughts from my three favorite talks.

If anything catches your attention or sparks strong reaction, you might grab their book or look them up on YouTube. (Below: if it’s in quotes, it’s a quote. If not, it’s a paraphrase of their words or theme.)

Bill Hybels (Pastor of Willow Creek, Founder of Global Leadership Summit)

  • “Armed with humility, a leader can learn from anyone.”
  • “An organization will only be as healthy as the top leader wants it to be.”
  • Maximizing performance: it will require constant readjusting of goals
  • How Willow Creek measures performance for a person or a project: Thriving (taking new ground, exceeding goals, innovative), Healthy (maintaining ground, doing solid work, no regression), Underperforming (losing ground)
  • “It is cruel and unusual punishment to employ someone and to not tell them how they are doing.”
  • Leadership is essentially about managing energy, not time. The biggest benefit to this view is you can change how energy is spent at any point. You can’t recover lost time.
  • “God never intended for our vocations to crowd out every other dimension of our life.” Success at work doesn’t make up for underperforming or failing at home, in relationships.

I’ve read his book, Leadership Axioms. I’m planning to read Simplify. And he has many other great choices.

Chris McChesney (Global Practice Leader of Execution for Franklin Covey)

  • Simplify your focus. “With 10 goals, they will love you — but they won’t hear you.”
  • There will always be more good ideas than there is a capacity to execute.
  • “You’re going to have to say no to good ideas.”
  • “Execution doesn’t like complexity.”
  • The two best friends of execution: simplicity and transparency
  • “Give the front line your best thinking” (Don’t let they why or how be a secret to your team
  • The #1 driver of morale and engagement is whether or not a person feels like they are winning
  • Execution is frustrating because urgency trumps importance. Focus on the important, not the urgent.

I’m buying his book. This was a fantastic and practical talk. Lots of great insight.

Photo Credit: Willow Creek Instrgram (@wcagls)

John Maxwell (Leadership expert, NYT best-selling author)

  • “You have to find the person before you can lead the person.” Relationship and understanding are essential to leading.
  • “Every day, intentionally add value to people.”
  • Three questions followers ask leaders: Do you like me? (compassion) Can you help me? (competency) Can i trust you? (character)
  • Everything worthwhile is uphill. It’s uphill all the way.
  • “People have uphill hopes and they have downhill habits.”
  • They only way to break a downhill habit is to get intentional in our life.
  • Most people don’t lead their life. They accept their life. When you accept your life, it’s not intentional.
  • “You can’t add value to people if you don’t value people.”
  • “Intentional living insists on intentional thinking.”

His newest book is called Intentional Living. He has a million others to choose from.

Bonus Round

I can’t resist sharing a few more quotes from other speakers:

  • “The biggest problem is not where you want to go, it is what are you willing to leave behind to get there.” — T.D. Jakes
  • “We often don’t struggle with codependency, we struggle with our self-sufficiency.”— Danielle Strickland
  • “We have to have the courage as leaders to address the uncomfortable problems in our people.” — Patrick Lencioni
  • “Impatient optimism” — Melinda Gates (this was how she described her self and the posture of tackling on global challenges. I love this phrase and mentality.)
  • “Data helps us make decisions that make a difference.” — Melinda Gates

Adam Bouse Coaching offers personal and organizational development coaching. Emotional intelligence assessments, leadership coaching, and team training are just a few of the tools available. Find more info at or send me an email —