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Ax.i.om, Powerful Leadership Proverbs
Last Updated: 2/3/09
Written in Bill Hybels' trademark conversational style, you can probably read Axiom (219 pages) in one sitting, but it will take months to reflect on the leadership wisdom shared. This is a pithy collection of insight and wisdom that comes from a leader who “has been there and done that.”
Hybels distinguishes between four leadership categories: vision and strategy; teamwork and communication, activity and assessment, and personal integrity. I found take-aways in every chapter. Here are a few of my favorites:
• The very best leaders wrestle with words until they are able to communicate their big ideas in a way that captures the imagination, catalyzes action, and lifts spirits. They coin creed and fashion slogans and create rallying cries, all because they understand language matters.
• Vision is a picture of the future that produces passion in people.
• Vision leaks. We can deliver a vision talk on Sunday that leaves everyone revved up to go change the world, but by Tuesday, many people have forgotten they were even in church the previous weekend. We need to consistently refill people’s vision buckets.
• The nature of human beings is such that we tend not to drift into better behaviors. We usually have to be asked by someone to consider taking it up a level. When handled properly, people are actually quite flattered to be asked to do significant things for God.
• Wise leaders understand that the single greatest determinant of whether followers will ever own a vision deeply is the extent to which those followers believe the leader will own it.
• The difference between great communication and not-so-great communication often comes down to where you place the bad news.
• Develop a “mole system.” Every responsible leader must rely on many channels of input to ascertain what is really going on in his or her organization.
• What does a leader do when an initiative he or she is leading fails? There are lots of options: self-flagellation, berating others, and blaming external factors, among others you no doubt could add to the list. In recent years, I have preferred asking a simple question instead: Did we do any learning?
The book is exactly what it says it is; it’s neither anecdotes nor clichés, but axioms; universally accepted truths. However, I confess that after reading the book, there is a lingering question in my mind: What part does God play in building His church? Bill Hybels has given great leadership to Willow Creek. I’m pleased he’s willing to share the wisdom his experience has produced. I’m concerned that the book becomes a “formula for success” with readers. Reading this book makes it easy to get caught up in a corporate mindset as opposed to being God-dependent and Spirit-led.
The book is a great read, but it’s no shortcut to what God can produce through time spent with Him in prayer and Scripture reading.
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