“Being all things to all people makes you nothing to no one” says Patrick Lencioni, a best-selling author and the founder and president of an organizational consulting firm that advises clients on how to improve teamwork, clarity, and employee engagement.
This is the second year the Hardin-Simmons University campus has served as the West Central Texas host site for community leaders to hear a variety of perspectives on leadership from across the country. Presented in partnership with The Willow Creek Association, the Global Leadership Summit is a yearly concentration of church, business, government, non-profit, and educational leaders from cities around the world.
The author of 10 books on success, Lencioni is one of several inspirational and insightful business leaders tapped to serve as a faculty member in the summit, which was beamed via satellite to about 200 other host sights world-wide August 9 and 10, 2012.
Lencioni tells about 165,000 people attending, “Leadership in all organizations has to answer six critical questions: Why do we exist? How do we behave? What do we do? How do we succeed? What is most important right now? And, who must do what?”
HSU director of church relations, James Stone, says, “The summit allows local leaders to engage world-class entrepreneurs, best-selling authors, and notable Christian leaders in exploration of relevant leadership practices.”
“True leaders are learners who do not confine their development to a single stream of influence,” says WCA president, Jim Mellado. “We're seeing our leaders, who come to this conference, experience a torrent of inspiration and a stirring of new vantage points.”
Stone says, “Leadership is not only about power or position, but the capacity to influence those around us, through action, toward a more noble purpose. It is about leading where you are. For those identifying themselves as Christ-followers, the purpose of leadership in any area of life necessitates the use of whatever influence we have to ultimately serve others.”
Those attending the summit included administrators and employees from churches throughout West Texas, and businesses like Hendrick Health Systems, Work Force Solutions, Bandag, and Salta Pipe. HSU, as well as Howard Payne University, also had a number of staff and faculty members in attendance.
Donny Harbers, who earned two degrees from HSU, says this is his second year to attend the summit. He is a long-time Big Country pastor, having served in Potosi, Hamlin, and now at Wylie Baptist Church. Harbers says he especially took an interest in one of the leadership skills addressed by speaker William Ury during the summit, “To separate the people from the problem.”
Ury is a professor at Harvard University with 30 years’ experience in negotiating and mediating corporate, state, and civic conflicts. Ury advised to, first, focus on the people and address their needs, when negotiating a conflict. If you understand what someone is wanting or thinking, you can address their needs, he said. “By addressing needs, you can change an area of conflict to one where all parties are on the same side, the side of solving the problem,” says Ury. “Don’t be soft on the problem and soft on trying to solve it. Don’t be hard on the problem and hard on the people. Separate the people from the problem.”
Ury also advises to focus on interests and not positions. Giving the example of children struggling over an orange, the solution would seem to be to cut the orange in half. However, a better solution could have been found if they had only understood why each wanted the orange, he said. “One child took her half and ate the fruit, throwing away the peel. The other took the peel to use in a cake, wasting the fruit. Had they understood the underlying reason why each wanted the orange, one could have had the whole fruit and the other could have had the whole peel.”
Stacy Martin, director of undergraduate academic advising at HSU, says she came to the summit last year and was so inspired that she came again, “This rejuvenates me right before the beginning of a semester. The aspect of leading where you are, whether it is with your church or your job, that challenges me personally.”
Kacey Higgins, HSU’s registrar, says the summit reminds her to focus on what’s important. What makes a leader is not doing your job, but doing above your job. Leaders have to have the ability to press forward and beyond. This summit has been like a cold drink of water on a very hot day, and it reminds all of us that everyone struggles with problems.”
Ury says it like this, “The key is the ability to go to a balcony, a place of clarity to keep your eyes on the prize. When you’re angry, you will make the best speech you will ever regret. Sometimes your greatest power is the power not to react to a difficult situation. Ask yourself, ‘Is it in my best interest to get into an argument?’”
Ury tells the story of Abraham Lincoln, in a speech to promote peace between the North and the South, “When Lincoln revealed in his speech feelings of sympathy toward the South; a citizen questioned why the Union would not be ready to destroy the enemy. After thinking for a moment, Lincoln replied, ‘Do I not destroy my enemy when I turn my enemy into my friend?’”
Lencioni implored companies to create core values and educate every employee on those values. “You empower people when they know those core values. If they can make decisions between the anchors the decision-making becomes a science.”
Ury said, “Take a walk. It is an ancient way of achieving peace. It is like a giant balcony for finding clarity. The path is made by walking.”
Stone says attendance each year has been above expectations. HSU is already preparing for next year’s Global Leadership Summit.