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Simply Lead

Published August 15, 2013

simply lead
On May 10th I had an opportunity to attend the Chick-Fil-A Leadercast in Atlanta, GA. I have been to the last 4 Leadercast events and they have all been special, but none more so than this one. This year’s theme was “Simply Lead”. I have found myself over the last 3 months sharing the messages from this one day event with so many people I have lost track who I have given notes to and shared the talks with.
For those of you who don’t know about this event or have never heard of it, here is the description straight from their website:
“Leadercast is a one-day event broadcast live from Atlanta to over 100,000 leaders around the globe.¬†It’s a movement that is changing the way the world thinks about leadership by building leaders worth following.”
I am going to do a series of posts highlighting the main points from the key speakers of this year’s Leadercast and publish them over the next few weeks. This year’s lineup included Andy Stanley, John Maxwell, Sanya Richards-Ross, Dr. Henry Cloud, David Allen, Mike Krzyzewski, Condoleeza Rice, Jack Welch, & LCDR Rorke Denver.
First up is Andy Stanley.
Andy Stanley, Lead Pastor of Northpoint Community Church:
andy stanley cfa leadercast
Andy kicked off the day by discussing some key truths about growth and leadership:

  • Wherever there is growth, there comes complexity.¬†Complexity is the enemy of clarity.
  • In Leadership, having clarity is the most important thing.
  • You have to recenter yourself as a leader to handle the complications of growing an organization.

Andy discussed how overwhelming it can be with all of the demands we have on our organizations and the need to have a simple idea to use to really stay on top of growth, people, and systems. So he jotted down these 3 questions to keep Leadership Simple:
You must ask these 3 important questions as a leader:

  1. What are we doing?
  2. Why are we doing it?
  3. Where do I fit in?

By asking these questions you will begin to get extreme clarity and be able to set clear direction for your entire organization.
What are we doing?
There is extraordinary power and clarity when you reduce what you down to what you are doing to one simple idea. Andy used the Ritz Carlton as an example. He attended a 3 day training class for maids, cooks, and bellmen. He was curious how the Ritz instills such a culture of service in everyone on staff from the bellmen to the hotel manager. What he learned was one simple idea: “We are ladies & gentlemen serving ladies & gentlemen.” That was it. That was the one constant idea reiterated over the course of those 3 days with. That is incredibly powerful. You must retreat to one simple idea as your Mission Statement.
If you are not crystal clear on what you are doing the mist in your mind will eventually become a fog in your organization. I thought this statement was a huge exclamation point in Andy’s talk. It got me thinking about leaders and in our desire to move swiftly and accomplish aggressive agendas, are we being as clear as we think we are?
Why are we doing it?
This is where the emotion of your job is. This is where things really become inspiring. What would happen in your community if your business ceased to exist? Another powerful question; would anyone really miss us if we closed up shop tomorrow? When you clarify your values and understand your intrinsic motivations for what you are doing you can cast a compelling vision. If you don’t answer this question, or can’t answer it for your team you lose your motivation to keep going and so will your team.
Where Do I Fit In?
A lot of time was spent on this point. In this section of his talk Andy Stanley really hammered on these 3 questions:

  1. What is your critical role?
  2. What is your unique contribution?
  3. What is your core responsibility?

He encouraged every leader to create for yourself and your direct reports a one sentence job description. Keep it SIMPLE. In the midst of the complexity, crisis, and deadlines, everybody needs to know what YOU think their critical ROLE is. I thought this was really insightful. We always assume as leaders that as long as our team is clear on what their critical role is that is enough. But it’s not. It matters to our team what WE think their role is.
By establishing our own critical role and recognizing what we contribute to the organization through our core responsibility we are able to keep our path clear of non-essential tasks and decisions so that we can do what we can only do, while empowering our teams to do what they were made to do, and feel proud for all they are accomplishing to move our organizations forward.
This was a great session and the bottom line is this. Work on answering these questions for your organization and you will be well on your way to becoming a successful leader.

  1. What are YOU doing?
  2. Why are YOU doing it?
  3. Where do YOU fit in?