Notes from the Global Leadership Summit

So this weekend I attended the Global Leadership Summit at Palm Beach Community Church. This event brings together a wide range of noted business, church, government and social leaders at the Willow Creek theatre and is then broadcast simultaneously throughout the globe to different viewing locations.

On Friday Susan Cain and Patrick Lencioni spoke and both of them presented what I would consider to be variations of the speeches that gave at the World Leadership Conference. Bryan Loritts, however, was new to me and I found his speech on instigating change through personal sacrifice to be a highly thoughtful meditation on the manner in which the minor alteration of certain habits and beliefs can bring about large changes in our lives. He gave examples of how it is that our being accustomed to be in a decision making position can sometimes lead us to overestimate our perspective at the expense of others. Loritts framed this within an explicitly Christian context. He said that our attachments to aspects of our perspective must be abandoned to better exemplify our beliefs in the eternal oneness of humanity. A series of general prohibitions, which reminded me of the better aspects of Catholicism, followed with illustrations how such attachments can bring about poor dynamics in an organization. The examples that he gave were all related to the modern workplace and made me think about a conversation I recently had with Steve DeMoss, founder of Word in Deed ministries.

Over dinner he’d described the need for the values educations found in missionary work as often times in the places of dire poverty that he did mission work in Africa the moral reasoning which was prevalent was so short-term that workers would, for example, sooner steal goods to pawn for an equivalent of a months pay made in a day rather than work daily for weekly wages. Getting back on track, this long time, eternal orientation was one not devoid of attachments but aware of their operation on the spirit – a compelling imperative for the self to live by indeed! Carly Fiorina’s perspective on the manner in which it is important to use multiple markers for assessing performance and its relationship to continuous, successful innovation were some of the primary characteristics of a successful leader. Her role as the president of HP certainly gives her message an import based not solely on research but also on practical application.

On Saturday I especially liked the first featured presenter, Joseph Grenney, author of the book Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High. Crucial conversations are those defined by their having high stakes, opposing opinions and strong emotions. Indeed the health of an organization is the degree to which certain subjects are wholly taboo or limited in such a scope that it prevents real positive adaptation. Grenney pointed out how often when people are forced to engage in such crucial conversations they often fare poorly. This type of aversion should be avoided, however, as people that are unable to talk it out will often act it out and because it can generally negatively affect the behavior at the workplace. Crucial conversation need not to be see too much as a contest amongst conflicting positions, but a trust-building accelerant to intimacy and better organizational efficiency. To make sure that the conversations are candid, organizations need to make sure that people are safe. The ingredients of safety are the recognition of mutual purpose, mutual respect and mutual movement forward. By recalling this alignment of current intentions, value for each other and agreement on how things will go into the future organizations are able to set up a smooth pattern for how interactions will be in the future.

I was less impressed with Erica Ariel Fox, author of Winning from Within: A Breakthrough Method for Leading, Living, and Lasting Change. The speech seemed to drag with unfunny jokes and anecdotes that were too long for the point that they were trying to convey. She did, however, speak of two things that I found rewarding. The first of these are performance gaps, or the space between people’s potential and their actual behavior and how it was the quality of a great leader to be able to identify them and work with people to close them. What precisely this form of measurement is she didn’t go into great detail about, but as someone that’s been lately learning about life coaching and psychoanalysis for personal and professional growth and development it didn’t bother me that much. The second point that she made is how biochemically our brains are more like an orchestra than a soloist. According to her we have four major internal forces/spirits; The Dreamer, The Thinker, The Lover and The Warrior. We also have a number of minor roles, but she didn’t delve into this instead talking about the four major roles. The Dreamer is the creator of possibilities that sets strategic vision, the Thinker analyses data and clarifies perspective, the Lover manages relationships and feels emotions while the Warrior catalyzes performance, takes action, speaks truth and helps reach goals. Worth noting is how I see a certain similarity to the work of Carolynn Myss, and other Eastern inspired psychologists such as C. G. Jung, that also sees a benefit in fixation upon certain recurrent characters found in an archetypal form. This is worth talking about more, but not here and now.

Later came Don Flow, who also kind of ambled his way through his speech. He seemed to me to be exhibiting a loving swagger that was perhaps fitting for those that knew him but didn’t particularly translate well for me. That said, I did really like his thoughts on love and serving. Living love means that we are called to be with people while to serve mean to display Self-Respect, Earn Trust, Reach for Perfection, Value input and Energize others. To me this is a great little acronym and mnemonic device in order to recall those components. All in all I had a great time there, am grateful that I was able to attend and look forward to being in situations where I can put this knowledge to practice.