Investing in Leadership - the Global Leadership Summit

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Every year, VOX magazine joins leaders from around Ireland for the Global Leadership Summit.  This two-day conference, run by the Willow Creek Association, is held near Chicago, USA, each summer and is then shared around the world by video-cast.  Uniquely for a leadership conference with Christian values, the GLS invests in both church leaders and business leaders.  Read summaries of key sessions on the VOX website.

In November, VOX editor Ruth Garvey-Williams caught up with some of the Irish delegates at the GLS hosted by Open Arms Church in Newbridge, County Kildare, to find out why they attend the conference and what lessons they have learnt.

Sean Mullan spent many years as a church leader. Now as an entrepreneur / businessman he still finds inspiration from the GLS:

The principles I am learning are as applicable now I’m in business as when I was in church leadership.  The GLS recognises the reality of God at work in all of life.  I was struck by Bill Hybels’ teaching on the need for courageous leadership.  The crucial issue for me was the need for courage to establish a healthy culture. Every day, a business faces so many different forces - the needs of customers, competition in the marketplace, staff performance and the squeeze on finances. Yet, I have a responsibility to create a culture where the values of God’s kingdom are held high.   

Pastor Dare Adetuberu is originally from Nigeria.  Now he leads the Redeemed Christian Church of God congregation in Tyrrelstown:

We have a Nigerian saying, “We are blessed with everything except leadership.”  The world has a huge leadership crisis.  We have a vision that we can do something about not just within the churches but also as a catalyst for social change.

Today, I was particularly struck by the need to transition from having a vision to establishing values.  After all the agonising of, “I wish we could do this…” now it is time to write out the core values we will implement to make our vision become a reality.

Nathan Reilly is MD of video production company, Tiny Ark, in Dublin.  He prioritises the GLS as a time for his own development as a leader:

Being a leader of any kind is a race against the clock.  You never seem to have enough time!  But it is essential to invest in yourself in order to be able to invest in others.  Re-evaluating the most simple things can have a dramatic effect.

I found the session by Henry Cloud particularly helpful.  He emphasised the importance of looking at what we can control rather than focusing on what we can’t. In our business, sometimes we have more work than we can handle but the future is uncertain.  We never know what will happen a few months down the line.   We need to look at what can we take control of right now rather than focusing on the uncertainty.

Twelve-times national champion cyclist Tarja Owens competed at the Sydney Olympics and the World Championships during a long and successful international career.  But when she gave up professional cycling, she found a new passion.  Along with Niall Davis, the only Irish cyclist to compete in the World Cups in both downhill and cross country mountain biking, Tarja set up “” - a company dedicated to introducing, resourcing and helping people to enjoy biking:

We work directly with people, helping them to build confidence and new skills - that can be daunting.  How we do that is so important.  We need to make sure the people we have working for us have the same ethos. Every year, as the business grows, our needs grow.  We have to adapt and grow as well.

The GLS brings a fresh perspective every year. Here, you take the time to reflect a bit more.  It doesn’t add to your workload. Every time I come away with a snapshot of the long road.  Thinking a bit further ahead helps you to pace yourself.  It puts things in perspective and helps you evaluate how you are spending your time.

Rector Trevor Stevenson from St James’ Church, Crinken feels he can’t afford to miss the GLS:

I come to learn more about leadership, to keep up to date and to be motivated and challenged.  The nuggets and gems I learn here can save me days, weeks and months; even years.

I have been looking at the idea of identifying young leaders in the church. Listening to Pastor Oscar Muriu from Kenya talking about developing leaders has encouraged me to put that into action.

Ross and Toni Williamson are part of the leadership team at the Lighthouse Church in Navan, County Meath:

This year, the highlight for Toni was being introduced to the work of Compassion Ireland and signing up to sponsor a child. 

We can be so focused on our own community.  We forget about the bigger picture.  We forget that the world is suffering. The GLS exposes you to the outside world.

Ross added: I was particularly struck by the talk on the “downward spiral of a leader”. I had a meltdown in March and it lasted several months.  When Henry Cloud was explaining the downward spiral, I saw myself.  It really hit home as to why it happened to me.

PJ Booth, is Senior Pastor of Open Arms Church in Newbridge, County Kildare and the National Leader of Assemblies of God Ireland.  PJ wants to see more leaders taking advantage of the training on offer:

I believe everything revolves around leadership.  If we limit the leadership, we limit the church. Leaders are not born.  They are developed, raised, taught and mentored. GLS for me, is about reaching lost people and making disciples by raising up leaders. 

Personally, I’m taking away the challenge to continue to be courageous. I need to keep taking those steps of faith.  The more successful you feel you are as a leader the less steps of faith you can take.  It is not what I did yesterday that counts but what I am doing today!   

As a parent and with leadership responsibilities at work Racheal Afolabi found immediate opportunities to put the teaching from GLS into action:

I was challenged by the session on being an unintentional “diminisher” (not allowing people to operate at their full potential).  I have four kids and usually we give them orders and instructions saying, “Do this… Do that…”  Last night, I tried something different. I asked my teenage daughter, “What do you want to do?”  She immediately came up with a solution to the problem.  I need to learn to let my children figure things out for themselves. We have invested a lot into them. 

With my team at work, so often I’m giving orders.  But they are professional and intelligent people.  I’m planning to go in on Monday and ask them the questions, “What do you think we should do about this…?” I want to let them figure it out.