The Courage That Leadership Requires – Bill Hybels

Bill Hybels


Founder and Senior Pastor,
Willow Creek Community Church

  • Founded The Global Leadership Summit, now in 530+ cities and 90 countries
  • Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, a pioneer in contemporary church strategy and one of America’s largest churches with more than 24,000 weekly attendees
  • Committed to developing and mentoring leaders worldwide, including those in some of the most difficult, overlooked and under-resourced countries
  • Best-selling author of more than 20 books including Courageous Leadership and Axiom: Powerful Leadership Proverbs


Once again Bill didn’t disappoint in opening the Summit.  His message of courage was an inspiring and challenging reminder of the responsibility of leadership.  I appreciate his honesty in expressing the difficulties that he has faced as a leader.

Here are my notes from the session:

Leadership requires a non-stop flow of fortitude

Courage “a cause for which I am fully prepared to die” – Nelson Mandela

Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid.  For I am with you and will never forsake you.”

1) Courage to embrace the vision.

Vision is a picture of the future that creates passion in people.

God made you a leader to move people from here to there.

Every significant vision God births in you is going to put your courage to the test.

When fear grips us, we abort the vision secretly.

We lack bravery.

It’s why God made us leaders – to step out in faith and to move something or someone from here to there.

Don’t die a coward.

Visions are holy commodities.  Treat them with the utmost respect.

2) Courage to define current reality.

All leaders are always leading.  Every organization is going one of three directions: down, plateauing or up.

Down – Respond to the fire; code red emergency

Plateau – Start a fire

Up – Pour fuel on the fire

Your whole team knows what reality your organization is in.  They are waiting for you to work up the courage to face it yourself and step up to lead them out of it.

3) Courage to build a fantastic culture.

Best Christian Workplace – tool for assessing staff culture (

People join organizations.  They leave managers.

Be as concerned about building staff culture as you are about building the church.

Staff cultures will only ever be as healthy as the CEO or Senior Pastor wants them to be.

Enormous courage is required to make significant gains in your culture’s health beginning with brave apologies for what contributed to low morale.

We are no longer gonna pay people to bruise and bust our culture.

A flourishing staff is so much more effective than a toxic staff.

4) Courage to establish and reinforce values.

Move from casting vision to establishing an enviable value.

There comes a time when a leader has to throw down the gauntlet and declare that an enviable value is established and the whole organization must embrace it.

Leading over the long haul and finishing strong require enormous courage.

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