Notes from Andy Stanley at Catalyst West

May 11, 2010

By far my favorite talk at the Catalyst West Leadership Conference was Andy Stanley.  Man, so many of the talks he gives feel as if the talk was developed exclusively for me.

Here’s a few thoughts from Andy.

Only do what only you can do.

This is something I could take a week just to think and chew on.  What is it that only you can do at your organization?  I know there are things I’ve been doing in my life that I can have someone else do.  It’s natural for us as leaders to want to do everything.  We most likely have high energy, want to help people, and want to make it happen.  We also have a tendency to think we can do tasks and run projects more effectively than others.  As effective leaders we need to only do what only we can do.

When I do things I don’t do well, things don’t go well.

As a leader, we’re given strengths and weaknesses for a reason.  We need to focus on utilizing our strengths for the greater good, and we need to do everything possible to avoid our weaknesses.  And when we do tasks and projects that are in our weak areas, things don’t go well.  The result is most likely going to be weak.

My fully developed strengths are worth more to my organization than my marginally improved weaknesses.

It’s a fact of life that we all have strengths and weaknesses.  And it’s up to us as leaders to discover what our strengths are, then we need to find ways to focus on those strengths.  We should do nothing else but focus on those strengths to develop them, improve them and make them better.  We’re going to improve much faster with our strengths than we will ever improve our weaknesses.

Great leaders don’t make all the decisions.

One of the great ways you enable others in your organization to lead and grow is to allow them to make decisions.  When you allow them to make decisions, it gives them responsibility and authority.  Responsibility and authority will grow a leader because it’s his own reputation on the line.  No one else’s. 

Decisions should be made at the lowest level in the organization chart as possible.  The senior leader, executive vice president, CEO, or executive director doesn’t have to make every decision. 

One principle I employ as a leader in the middle of our organization is that I always try to make a decision I think I can be made without consulting my leader.  If I think I know what she will say when I ask, then I make the decision on her behalf.

The thing you are no good at is someone else’s opportunity to
shine.

Very true, if I’m guilty of one flaw as a leader (there are actually many flaws I have) it’s that I do too much.  I don’t delegate enough to others, and as a result I don’t allow others to shine.  I don’t allow them to shine through and show what they are great at.

When a Leader decides not do something and either delegates it or decides to leave it untouched, it gives someone else an opportunity to shine.  It gives someone else an opportunity to make something happen, to make a difference and add value to the organization in a way they might not have done before.

When you are in your sweet spot, you can’t get enough.

When you and I as leaders find the area that we’re strong (our sweet spot), we love it!  We love to do what we’re good at! 

Mine is leading and writing.  I love to work with people in a meeting, one-to-one, and to focus on working towards a common goal.  I love to lead people to places we’ve haven’t been together. 

I also love to write.  Give me a pad of paper and a pen and I’m a happy man.  I’m ready to rock and roll for hours.  Giving me a pad of paper and pen is like giving a 5 year old a box of crayons and a roll of poster paper.  I’ll have fun all day.

When a leader finds his sweet spot, he loves it and can’t get enough.  That should be your sign to stay there and do as much of it and you possibly can.

Christopher L. Scott

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Christopher Scott is Small Groups Pastor at Rocky Hilly Community Church in Exeter, CA. He has more than ten years of experience leading volunteers, running nonprofit programs, and teaching the Bible in small group settings. He holds a bachelor's degree from Fresno Pacific University and master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.

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  1. Servant Leadership Examples | Christopher L. Scott | Biblical Leadership - May 14, 2013

    […] topic of leaders focusing on their strengths and “only do what only you can do” is a popular opinion (and a correct one), but at times leaders need to simply do tasks that […]