4 Lessons on Leadership From Andy Stanley

By Natalie Dupuis, May 1, 2015

Last week, Andy Stanley, pastor and founder of North Point Ministries, took the stage as the leadoff speaker of Leadercast Live in Atlanta. Because the theme of the event was “The Brave Ones,” Stanley explained to the 5,000 people in the room and the 100,000 people tuning in what brave leadership looks like.

Take these four lessons from his presentation to heart as you boldly lead your team on a day-to-day basis.

1) Brave leadership doesn’t require a certain personality.
When the word brave is tossed around, other words inevitably are associated with it—fearless, extroverted, courageous—but Stanley was purposeful in dispelling the myth that brave leadership requires those traits. He pushed the idea that bold leadership is more about vision and purpose than anything else.

“Clarity around, and an unreasonable commitment to, what should be,” was how he defined brave leadership. Or, in his word picture, “like a middle school girl in pursuit of an iPhone.” The simile got a laugh from the crowd, but Stanley was serious about the clarity, focus, stubbornness and resourcefulness that a typical middle school girl exhibits when she is on mission, and how leaders can take a cue from her.

2) Don’t be put off by the how.
Too often, ideas are shut down before they ever have a chance to flourish. “Nobody in the for-profit or the nonprofit world has ever made anything happen by asking, ‘How much will it cost?’ right at the beginning,” said Stanley. “You can ‘how’ a great idea to death. When someone has a great idea in your organization, say wow, not how.”

3) Dismiss what’s assumed to be impossible.
The leaders whose contributions stand the test of time are the ones who have changed the game. Stanley referenced a question from Joel Barker’s book that changed his life and trajectory as a leader: “What do I believe is impossible to do in my field, but if it could be done would fundamentally change my business?”

For Stanley, that meant finding a way to separate day-to-day church leadership from weekly Sunday preaching. That conceptual realization led to North Point Community Church, the forerunner of the multisite church. The saying “Everything is impossible until it’s done” isn’t just for wall hangings and pillows. Be the person to identify the challenges facing your industry, and commit yourself to creating the solution.

4) Act on what breaks your heart.
The thing that absolutely destroys your heart, the one thing that you have an insatiable need to see happen—that’s what you should be pursuing as a leader. “What might change your world,” Stanley says, “could change the world.” The world today is fraught with distractions from that pursuit, but it’s important to hold fast to the cause. Or as Stanley puts it, “Do not let your calendar or your organization conspire against you if you know what it is you need to do.”

Photo credit: Leadercast

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