There I am. Hey, it’s good to see you guys and especially those of you in the front row. I don’t know how much you paid for those seats but that’s a little bit intimidating. You know, in the old days, they had pews in churches and you guys are about to find out why because it’s really hard to stay awake when you’re that comfortable.
It’s good to see guys. I wasn’t here a little bit earlier. For how many of you is this your first Leadercast? Hands? Most of you. So nobody came back from last year. I’m not sure what that means. I’m thrilled to be here and I’ll tell you this year mostly why I’m thrilled is the way this works is the incredible staff of Leadercast sits down and asks the hard questions. What do leaders need to hear? What do leaders need to know? What does the theme need to be? And then they send it to me and say, “Andy, do you have anything to say on this topic because we’d love for you to kick the day off.”
And every year it’s kind of challenging. Every year it’s a lot of fun for me as a communicator, but this year in particular as I looked at our theme, which is, “Beyond You.” And we’re going to talk about Beyond You Leadership in just a minute. I thought I can’t wait to talk about this. Because we’ll see in just a few minutes this whole idea of Beyond You Leadership and I’m going to define it for you.
This whole idea I think for me as a young leader in my early 20s and then late 20s, even though I didn’t have this terminology, this idea that we’re going to talk about I think made a bigger difference in my personal life as a leader than any other thing. And in our current organization, which is a multisite church all over Atlanta, about 30 sites all over the country, all over the world, this one idea I think fuels the leadership culture of our organization really more than anything else.
So even though I didn’t have this terminology, as we began to tease this this out and ask the question, what does it mean to be a Beyond You Leader?, I got really, really excited. So this is going to be a fantastic day as you get to hear from all kinds of people from all over the country doing all kinds of cool stuff, actually all over the world.
But this idea, I am absolutely convinced just from personal experience, this idea, if you have the courage to embrace it, and as we’re going to see it takes a little bit of courage. This is a little bit outside the box. This is the kind of idea that makes you wonder, “Can I really do that? Can I lead like this and really develop an organization? Can I really do this kind of thing and make my way up in the company in which I’m currently employed and hope to stay employed for a long, long time?” And I believe the answer is yes, but it might take a little bit of convincing.
So our goal, our idea is to help you become a Beyond You Leader ultimately and even better than that as your influence increases in your organization to create a Beyond You culture. Imagine this, a culture where everybody in your organization, everybody that reports to you or everybody that you lead thinks not just in terms of their own, how they can benefit from their company, how they can leverage their own advancement, but how they can leverage their power, leverage their influence for the sake of those around them in the company, then those around them outside of their current organization. That’s what it means to be a Beyond You Leader.
So if you’re taking notes — and I’m like the ultimate note-taker; it’s hard for me to listen to anybody without a pen in my hand, I can’t read my own writing two hours later but I have this habit so I continue to write because I’m left-handed. I want to give you a definition, talk about it just a little bit, then talk about why you might think this is a terrible idea and then give you three practical applications and then read you one of my favorite historical quotes and then I will be finished and we will continue with this incredible discussion.
So here is a working definition for the day as we talk about a Beyond You Leader. Beyond You Leaders are leaders who fearlessly and selflessly, we’ll come back to those words, empower leaders around them as well as those who come along behind them. Beyond You Leaders for the sake of our discussion, are leaders who fearlessly and selflessly empower leaders around them as well as those who come along behind them. And coming along behind them, I’m talking about the next generation of leaders.
And one of the reasons I love this idea and I was so fortunate and some of you’ve heard this so you will appreciate it. Some of you have not heard this and so this may be new and you may be wondering who’s got time for that. But I was so fortunate as a young leader, the two or three people, I’ll tell you about one at the end, came along around me. People that really had nothing to benefit from pouring into me, sat down with me and poured into me as a young leader and empowered me as a young leader and they had nothing, absolutely no way to gain from spending that time with me.
And I was just silly enough and crazy enough to think that’s what you’re supposed to do. So from day one, simply because this was modeled for me like it’s been modeled for some of you; but others of you this wasn’t modeled for you. I just assumed that as a leader, part of my responsibility was to look for next generation leaders and figure out how I could invest in them. Whether they were a part of my organization, a part of my company, or not.
So let’s talk about these first two words and then I’ll talk about a little pushback you may have on this idea. Fearlessly, leaders who lead fearlessly. Fearlessly means that you’re not afraid of the 25-year-old kid in your organization who you know is smarter than you. The one that you hand over your phone to and say, “Would you fix this?” The one that has an app for everything and may have written an app for everything. This is that guy, it’s that young lady who you know; they’re smarter, they’re cooler, they’re hipper. They just got it going on and you’re a little bit threatened — a little bit.
Beyond You Leaders decide, “You know what, I’m going to fearlessly pour into that younger leader even though they may one day take my place.” And the room gets quiet, exactly. Leaders who fearlessly and selflessly, and this is the whole idea, a Beyond You Leader decides, “You know what, I’m going to be a Beyond You Leader, I’m going to pour into other people even though there is no personal return on my investment. Even though I’ll never be able to look back and say, ‘Because I was selflessly involved with another leader or another generation of leaders, somehow I benefited.'”
Now, I am convinced you do benefit. But selfless Beyond You Leadership is the leader who says “You know what, regardless of what comes back my way. Regardless of if I get credit. Regardless of how long I’m in a relationship with this person. I want to do all I can for the next generation so that the next generation of leadership, corporately, nonprofit, church, whatever environment you’re working in, that the next generation of leaders is stronger, more focused and more ready to lead our nation, our country, our world as a result of my leadership, than simply doing what’s only good for me corporately, regardless of what environment I’m working.
So fearlessly, selflessly and the other word I want to talk about is the word, “power.” The word power in lots of environments could become a four-letter word even though it’s a five-letter word, but here’s the thing about your leadership. You don’t think about this depending on where you are in your organization, but every single leader has power. Every single leader has power.
If you set somebody’s schedule, you have power. If you determine somebody’s raise, you have power. Your words as a leader, sometimes your words as a leader, weigh a hundred pounds; sometimes your words as a leader weigh a thousand pounds. That’s a lot of power.
In our organization, my assistant, Diane Grant ,who’s here with me today, every once in a while I’ll say, “I’m going to go down there and talk to them about something and she’ll say, “No, let me do it.” In our little code, in our organization, is because she says, “Andy, your words weigh a thousand pounds. This is something that needs to be said, but when you say it, it weighs too much.” This is something that needs to be communicated, let’s find another way to communicate it. You have power. You don’t think in terms of power because as a leader, you don’t think so much about the people that report to you as the people you report to. You don’t think so much about your power because you think about how little power you have compared to the people who have the power.
But if you are a leader in any capacity in your organization, you are empowered to do something and Beyond You Leaders leverage their power fearlessly and selflessly for the sake of other people around them. In other words, every time you use your power, you’re using it for somebody. And what we’re going to talk about today is how to leverage your influence, if you like that word better, for the sake of the people around you.
In other words, the empowered Beyond You Leader asks this question. When they look around the room, and they realize, “I’m the most powerful person in the room,” and that’s going to happen from time to time. There may be just three of you in the room, there’s three of you and you’re the one with the power. You’re sitting at the end of a conference table, you’re the one with the power. The discussion is over, a decision has to be made, and everybody turns in your direction and says, “And . . . ?” You’ve got the power.
The Beyond You Leader is the one that in that moment decides and asks the question, “How can I leverage my power for the sake of the other people in the room?” When it dawns on you that you’re the most powerful person in the room, the Beyond You Leader stops and asks the question, “Okay, but how can I leverage my power for the sake of the other people in the room?”
So that’s our definition. Beyond You Leaders are leaders who fearlessly and selflessly empower leaders around them as well as those coming along behind them. Now let me tell you why you might think this is a bad idea. You hear ideas like this and you’re sitting here today, you’re watching the day, and you’re thinking, “Okay, Andy, that probably works for preachers because you only work one day a week. That probably works for authors because they work from home and they don’t really have any employees. Okay. That probably works for people who’ve already made it. That probably works for people who are living off a trust fund and their company is kind of a hobby. This is a great idea for people who have nothing to lose. This is a great idea for people who don’t answer to a board. This is a great idea for people who’ve already made it.”
And so the pushback on this whole idea is, “Look, I’ve got payroll to meet, I’ve got things I’ve got to do, I’ve got people I report to. I am so stinking busy.” The whole idea of somehow stopping and asking this very almost intangible question of, “How do I leverage my power for the leaders around me?” Besides the fact that nobody did that for you!
In other words, when you tell your story, your story isn’t this person gave me an opportunity and this person gave me an opportunity and this person came along beside me. Your story is I got a . . .