“Courageous Leadership”

Earlier this year, I wrote about 15 Books That Have Shaped Me as a Leader. In posting the list, I realized there were a few books that I’ve never blogged about. One of them is Courageous Leadership by Bill Hybels.

Few people inspire, challenge, motivate me like Bill Hybels, whether through his speaking or his writing. So it’s not surprising that three of the fifteen books I named were written by Hybels.

Hybels wrote Courageous Leadership (2002) after nearly thirty years of leading Willow Creek. The book is described as his magnum opus. As stated in the book jacket, the book resonates with the conviction “that leaders … have the potential to be the most influential forces on planet Earth.”

Anyone who has ever heard Bill Hybels speak knows that he believes in the church. He often proclaims, “The local church is the hope of the world.” Hybels states, “There is nothing like the local church when it’s working right” (23).

In Courageous Leadership, Hybels adds, “The local church is the hope of the world and its future rests primarily in the hands of its leaders” (27). That certainly raises the stakes for church leaders!

Hybels talks about the importance of vision, calling it “a leader’s most potent weapon” (29). Hybels asserts, “Vision is at the very core of leadership” (31). I love Hybels’ definition of vision: “Vision is a picture of the future that produces passion” (32).

In recent years, there’s been a lot of discussion about mission, vision, and purpose. Sometimes these words are used interchangeably, sometimes differently. It gets confusing. So, I like what Hybels writes …

When a leader is casting vision publicly the goal is to help people know, understand, and remember the ‘main thing.’ Call it vision, purpose, mission, whatever. But people better be able to walk away saying, ‘I know the main thing.’ (45)

Hybels describes different styles of leadership, including …

  1. The visionary leadership style
  2. The directional leadership style
  3. The strategic leadership style
  4. The managing leadership style
  5. The motivational leadership style
  6. The shepherding leadership style
  7. The team-building leadership style
  8. The entrepreneurial leadership style
  9. The reengineering leadership style
  10. The bridge-building leadership style

It’s been a while since I’ve read this section, but I’d probably say my primary leadership style is visionary (clear sense of vision), possibly followed by the shepherding (slowly building sense of leadership community) and reengineering (rebuilding, turnaround situations) leadership styles.

There’s a lot of good stuff in the book, but I’ll finish with this. In a chapter on self-leadership, Hybels describes several questions he regularly asks himself …

  • Is my calling sure?
  • Is my vision clear?
  • Is my passion hot?
  • Am I developing my gifts?
  • Is my character submitted to Christ?
  • Is my pride subdued?
  • Am I overcoming fear?
  • Are interior issues undermining my leadership?
  • Is my pace sustainable?
  • Is my love for God and people increasing?

Great, challenging questions for leaders.

Have you read Courageous Leadership?

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