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Watch 2022 online sermons » Craig Groeschel » Craig Groeschel - Becoming a Leader Who Has 'It'

Craig Groeschel - Becoming a Leader Who Has 'It'

Craig Groeschel - Becoming a Leader Who Has 'It'
Craig Groeschel - Becoming a Leader Who Has 'It'
TOPICS: Leadership Podcast

The word controlling might bother you. And actually, I hope it does at first because it bothers me too. Hey, I'm excited to have you back for another episode of the "Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast". My goal is to help you become a better leader, because we know that everyone wins when the leader gets better. And I wanna tell you, this is a bonus episode. If you're new to our community, we drop a new podcast on the first Thursday of each month, and you're gonna wanna subscribe wherever you consume the content. So you don't miss the first episode of next month. I'm dropping a podcast interview with my good friend, Tim Tebow, that is brilliant beyond measure, this guy. He shares some content that's gonna help you grow in your leadership and honestly, help you in all areas of life.

I also wanna tell you that if you're not getting the monthly leader guide, you're gonna wanna get it, it's got all sorts of content in it with additional tips and questions for your team. Just go to, and we'll send you the leader guide with the release of every episode. Also, if this content is helpful to you, it means a lot to me. If you'll rate it wherever you consume it. And if you have a minute to write a review that actually helps give us exposure. And I see you all over the place posting online. I love it when you share and invite others to be a part of our community. In fact, I just wanna say thank you to Christian Hayes Fray and Zwakim and Diana Guest, I saw you guys posting. If you do post on the content and be sure, and tag me, I've got a whole team of people helping on social media that may repost you as well.

This is part two, as we're talking about something that I believe is gonna help everyone's leadership. We talked about ideas from my new book that I just released "Lead Like it Matters". This is an expanded and revised version of a book that I released in 2008 called "It". It's all about church leadership. The subtitle is "Seven Principles for a Church That Last". And while I wanna say clearly it is written directly to church leaders. I promise you the leadership principles transfer. I've learned the vast majority of leadership principles from business books that I apply in ministry. And the honest to goodness truth is leadership is leadership wherever. I would encourage you to buy a copy of this book for you. You might get one for everybody on your team. And I am honored to donate all the proceeds of all the books. And so by a bunch of them, give them out and I help people grow in their leadership.

Now let's look back to what we've been talking about and the big idea under "Lead Like it Matters". We've got the little it circle in the book. Some organizations have it, some don't, what is it? We talk about this in detail in the book, but what we know any organization that has it, that something special, the momentum, the vibe, the culture, the profit, the ministry impact that anyone that has it is always led by a leader that has it. And what I did is I did some additional research into content that is not in the book. And we studied in detail leaders across all industries that have it. And what we found, I talked about this in the last episode, if you have not listened to the last episode, stop this one, go pick up the last one, and then come back to this one. What we found is when we looked at the leaders that had it is they had these extreme qualities. They're really, really pegged in certain extremities. But what was shocking is they often had what I call a contradictory extreme.

In other words, they might have this one really, really, really wide extreme quality. And then at the very same time they had what felt like an opposite or an opposing extreme quality. And we called these the leadership paradoxes. If you didn't catch the last episode, I'm gonna give you the eight that we're covering. And then we're gonna look into three of them today. What do these leaders have? They're both confident and they're humble. They're driven and they're healthy. They're focused and they're flexible. They're filled with unshakeable optimism, and yet they're very realistic. They're direct in their communication and they're also kind. They're empowering, they trust, they delegate and they're controlling. They're urgent, get it done, get it done, get it done and they're patient.

And many of them, they are frugal and they're also abundant. What we're gonna do in this episode is we're gonna look at three of these paradoxes, then we're gonna try to help you nail down where you need to grow. And we'll start with the first one that's really, really fun, really, really interesting. And it's this leaders that have it are both empowering and they're controlling. They're both, now for the record I know some of you're thinking right now, like I don't wanna work for a controlling leader. The word controlling might bother you. And I actually, I hope it does at first because it bothers me too. And I wanna show you why it's very, very accurate. The reason a controlling leader bothers you is because honestly many leaders are too controlling and this is a problem. Why are leaders controlling? We're all controlling in some ways, because we care so much. And because we care, we have high standards and then we tend to think that other people can't do things as good as we can.

This is a problem because when we control too much, we hold back our leaders, we keep them from growing, we keep them from owning the business or the ministry. We keep them from innovating, and then we limit our overall impact. What do we know? A controlling leader always becomes the lid to the organization. If you're over controlling, you'll become the lid. Now, since most leaders are too controlling, let's start with talking about empowering. What do we know about a leader that has it? If you wanna have it, you have to give it away, you have to empower others. Why? Because the bottom line is you have limitations. We all do. You have a limited number of ideas. You've got a limited number of areas of expertise. You've got limited time. You can only be at one place. You can only do so much. And that's why your potential isn't determined by what you do. Your potential is determined by the leaders you empower, let that sink in. Your potential isn't determined all by your performance and where you are and what you get done. But your potential is determined by the leaders you empower. Think about it. Most leaders focus on finding the right strategy, how we're gonna get things done, but the best leaders focus on empowering the right leaders.

Now, how do you empower? I'm gonna review something I've said many times, and I'm gonna say it many times before. You're gonna get tired of me saying this until we all do it. How do we empower? It's all in how we delegate, the challenges that most leaders tend to delegate tasks, go do this thing, I'm asking you to do exactly the way I tell you to do it. Most leaders delegate tasks, but the best leaders delegate authority. I'm not just telling you exactly what to do, but I'm giving you the project and I'm trusting you to figure out the best way to get the best result. And what are the differences? When we, as leaders, delegate tasks, what we're doing is we're developing followers. We're developing people that do what they're told, but when we delegate authority, we as leaders, we're developing leaders and there's a big, big difference.

Now, will it always go well, when you delegate to someone, the answer is no, it's not going to. There's always gonna be a learning curve. And so the question people ask is, "Well, how do I know if I can trust people"? And I'm gonna give you the answer. If you're driving, you may wanna pull over the car to write this down, 'cause it's really important. I don't want you to miss it. How do we know if we can trust people? And the answer is, are you ready for it? We trust them. That's it, is that simple. We trust them. We give away and we see how they do. Now, you empower people. And if you do, if you try to keep it all, you're gonna lose it. If you're too controlling, you're never gonna have it. If you give it away, if you delegate, if you empower, you'll get more of it. We have to trust our team members.

Here's what I tell our team all the time, "Your true impact isn't a reflection of what happens in your presence. Your true impact is a reflection of what happens in your absence". It's all in what you trust others to do. When you empower others, the potential of the organization grows. So you may say, okay, what am I gonna do? I'm gonna get people a job and then trust him to do whatever. No, no, no. This is where the paradox comes in. The leaders that have it, they're both empowering and this seems like an opposing view, but they're also extremely controlling, all at the same time.

Now, if you say I don't like the word controlling, I agree with you. I don't like it either. And I looked at dozens of words and honestly, there's not a word that's more accurate. In fact, sometimes the best leaders are actually appropriately controlling, not overly controlling, but appropriately controlling. And I did some research on this, I couldn't find a single article on the whole worldwide web that talked about when a controlling leader is an effective leader, and this is a mistake because good leaders they are appropriately controlling, not overly controlling. It's bizarre someone write the article and I'll post on it. There's no article I could find anywhere that talks about an appropriately controlling leader because here's the bottom line. Is leaders that have it they have certain often odd and frequently unusual, and I would say occasionally weird unbending standards. They're both empowering, they trust you like crazy. And in some areas they're hyper controlling.

Odd example, Chick-fil-A is a world-class organization. And his team members are empowered with tons of flexibility to make the customer experience great. They can give stuff away and they can, I've experienced creative ways of empowered employees doing something. But every time a customer says, thank you. How does the Chick-fil-A employee have to respond? The team member has to say my pleasure. Now this is kind of narrow, right? This is some like overbearing controlling leader, right? Now, listen leaders that have it they're both empowering and appropriately controlling. And what's crazy is sometimes they're controlling in areas that honestly to you may not seem like they matter much, but to the leader, what they're doing is the things they control, their tone setting, their culture creating. They would always call differentiators that they believe make them better.

Now, are they always right? Maybe not. Like would Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich be good if the team member doesn't say my pleasure, it'd probably still be good. But whenever the belief is strong enough, it tends to become true. Now, if you look at my leadership, I wanna just kind of be transparent with you. There is no question, I'm an incredibly empowering leader. There are so many things that I trust people too, that it would make your head spin what I don't know. Here's what I don't control. If I walk into a church campus, for example, last weekend we went and visited one. I never ever stand up to speak, never, ever, ever. Why? Because I would be disempowering the local leader.

So I would never would ever stand up. I just greet people behind. When it comes to interviews, how involved am I? I don't do hardly interviews. In the past decade, I think I've been involved in two different interviews. I empower our team to bring in great people. When we select cities, we're in 43 locations in 12 or 13 states, I don't select the land, I don't even select the cities. We've started church locations and cities that I've never been to before. I'm empowering. And then in other ways I'm ridiculously controlling. There are some things our campus pastors are not allowed to say, and there are some things I make them say and they have to say it the way I want them to say it. When it comes to adding staff members, we've got hundreds and hundreds of staff members. I do not monitor staff additions. They can add as needed, but I monitor service additions. Meaning, if we add a new service at a new location, I have to be involved in that because I feel like I have a better sense of when to add.

So I'm empowering and I'm controlling. Our team has free reign on the budget. As long as they stay within the percentages, you can do whatever you want. But I obsess about the percentages. There are a few things that my team makes fun of that if I told you where I'm controlling, they're too embarrassing and outta context, they wouldn't make any sense to you whatsoever, but here's the bottom line, you're gonna see it every time. A leader that has it, they're both empowering and then they are appropriately controlling. And here's a summary. And you may wanna jot this down it's long, but I'm gonna say it. If you're over controlling, you'll be the organization's greatest limiting factor. But if you aren't strategically controlling your organization will never have the differentiating qualities that make it great.

Let me say it one more time. I want it to sink in. If you're over controlling, you're gonna be the limiting factor. But if you aren't appropriately controlling, you'll never have the differentiating qualities that set you apart that bring it to your organization. Jesus was a little bit like this. He said, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel. Baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit". So what did He do? He basically said, here's exactly what I want you to say. Here's where I want you to go, but I'm gonna trust you to figure out how to do it. He was both controlling and empowering. And that's what we know about leaders that have it. They're both empowering and they're controlling.

Let's look at another paradox. Are you ready? Here's another one, leaders that have it are both urgent and they're patient. They're both urgent and they're patient. Now, I hate to state the obvious, but the secret to getting things done is action. What do we know? Hope doesn't solve problems. Dreams alone don't make a difference. Faith without works is dead. And that's why leaders that have it they urgently drive the right actions. What does action do? Action closes the gap between what you have and what you want. We don't sit around, talk about it, think about it. We act on it and that closes the gap.

Now, what's interesting is these leaders that are very, very decisive they're not always right, but they're always moving toward action. In fact, the leaders that have it truthfully, they may be wrong more than most, but small, wrong actions often proceed the right big ones. There's movement. And when they are wrong, they're wrong trying, they're wrong attempting, they're wrong dreaming, they're wrong implementing. They're not wrong doing nothing. And that's why I tell our team all the time. Listen, we're gonna make mistakes. But when we make mistakes, we make active ones, not passive ones. Why? Because we've got a sense of urgency.

Now, here's what you're gonna notice about the leaders that have it, not all of them, but this is the truth. Many of them, they just walk faster. They think faster, they talk faster. Why? Because they got a lot going on and there's an urgency. They demand speed. They fight for agility. They want flexibility so they can change in the moment. They're not afraid of the unknown. They're not afraid of a little chaos. In fact, I like what Mario Andretti he's a great race car driver. He says, if everything seems under control you aren't going fast enough. That's the way I feel in my urgency. I want our organization moving, hitting, taking ground. And so we're moving, we're active and that's how we get things done.

Now, remember in every area of life, especially organizational leadership, urgency is not the default mode, complacency is. We tend to want to do what's easy, not what's necessarily right or fast. And so we have to remember this as your organization grows movement naturally slows. And as your organization ages, most move from a bias for action, to a bias for discussion. This is so important and I want to stay here for a moment. As you get bigger things get more complicated, it moves slower and that's why you have to fight for speed and agility.

As your organization, ages, and grows and gets bigger, people move from a bias for action. You were action oriented earlier and then before long there's meeting, after meeting, after meeting, instead of a bias for action. We have to not discuss, we have to act. Leaders with it, they don't just talk, they do. A very simple tool. You can do next time. Your team is like hung up on a decision and you're postponing the decision. You can just ask yourself this, ask yourself what additional information do we need to make a decision? And when you find yourself saying not much, make the dang decision, just do. Free up your brain space, move on, quit cycling over and over and over again and make a decision and move on. Because leaders that have it, they lead with urgency, but they're patient enough to play the long game. And this is the paradox and you'll see it almost every time. There's this sense of like, we gotta get it done and they're urgent. And then these very urgent leaders are also strategically patient.

Now to be clear, patience doesn't mean that you're passive. Patience isn't the absence of action. It's all about timing. What is it? For me, it's a bias to act quickly, but the wisdom to know when to wait. When do you need to lead with strategic patience? Let me give you four very important examples and we'll put these in the notes that you can get if you download them. When do you need strategic patience?

Number one, when you're developing people, you don't wanna push your people too fast. You wanna give them time to develop. You want to have urgency and development, but also patience in letting them grow.

Second thing you need patience in is what you say. When you say it, there's a right time to speak and more often to shut up. You need to be wise on when you speak.

Number three, when you act. A great idea at the wrong time is not a great idea.

You also need patience, number four, when you're waiting on results. In other words, sometimes you plant a seed and then it takes time to see a harvest. So you're gonna lead with urgency and with patience, I'll give you a personal example. I'm always leading urgently to reach more people. That's what we do. And one of the ways we reach more people is we start new churches, so we see more lives change. What do we have in the world right now? At the time of this recording interest rates are rising, the stock market is down, inflation is soaring, a recession is possible.

And so we're doing as everything is a little bit uneasy and the world and it's becoming more expensive, more costly, more time consuming to build buildings. What we're doing is we're now slowing our new church starts. And what we're doing is we're conserving cash. And the reason is I'm still urgent, but I'm also patient and recognizing my opinion in the next 6 to 18 months, there could be more buying opportunities if we're patient enough to wait for them. So I'm gonna lead with both urgency and with patience.

So leaders that have it, they're always focused on immediate progress, but they're scanning the horizon with a long term strategy. What do we know about leaders that have it? There's paradoxes, the first one, they're empowering and they're controlling. They're patient and they're urgent. Let's look at one more, leaders that have it are both frugal and they're abundant. They're frugal and they're abundant.

Now this isn't true for all leaders that have it, but you'll see it in a big percentage of those that have it. They're gonna be both, they're gonna be unusually frugal like tight ward sometimes, and then they're extravagant, abundant they just go for it other times. So let's start with frugal. You'll see this most often with founding leaders, for example, I'm a founding leader. It's honestly not as common and second generation leaders or those who are hired into an existing organization. But the reason it's common with founding leaders is because we started with nothing. And there was a time when every single dollar mattered and we feel that and that didn't go away.

So this extreme frugality, it often shows up in really unusual places. And it's hard to give examples because every leader of every organization is different. But what I can promise you is when the leader that has it, they're generally hyper involved in what I would call a wise financial stewardship. They're pinching pennies in some places, and you're gonna see them driving for better bids. You're gonna see them pushing back on budget additions. You're gonna see them questioning headcount requests. You're gonna see them obsessing about the cost of snacks.

Why are these snacks so expensive or whatever, weird, odd things. And you'll notice that these obsessions are often small and they often seem irrational and you go, why are they doing this? Well, small little cost savings don't really matter that much do they? Of course not. But what they're doing is they're driving a mindset. They're driving responsibility. And while one or two or three cost savings won't matter, hundreds will over times. And what you'll find is that a good leader will never pinch pennies all the way to a multimillion dollar organization. So there has to be wisdom. As the old saying goes, you have to spend money to make money. I might say it this way, a better way to say it is, you strategically invest money for desired return. You invest your resources.

So at times this frugal leader just seems annoyingly tight fisted. And then other times they seemed to forget all frugality and they're going, let's go for it! And the same leader that was pinch and pennies the other day is now taking some big, bold, daring financial risk. How do they go from one side to the other? The reality is they're both, because they're frugal they can also be abundant. And based on my study and my observation, the three most common places that leaders that have it go big would be people, projects, and time savers. If you wanna go big on spending money, people, projects and time savers. Let me explain, by people I'm talking about paying top dollar for a key hire. Great people worth that we wanna reward them, we want them happy, we want them blessed. It's generously rewarding a key player. You knocked it down this year.

Here's a bonus, here's a raise. We want to compensate well, the best of the best, of the best, and keep them. By projects I'm talking about rolling the dice on a strategic venture or a product line. Like I think this can go big, let's go big on it. Might be a new location, or it might be something they think is gonna bring in more revenue, a new advertising strategy, or a piece of property or office complex. Here's a big opportunity, it's expensive, but we're gonna seize it. By time savers, you'll see this all the time. Leaders that have it, they know they can make more money, but they can't make more time. So they'll pay top dollar to have someone do something that they could do to save their time so they can invest it somewhere else. They'll pay to get somewhere faster. If a connecting flight is cheaper, they'll pay more money to get their direct because they know that time is so valuable.

Now what's interesting is, and I wanna say this, these leaders will confuse you at times. One minute they're gonna say, don't spend any money. And the next minute they're saying, let's go for it. And while these seem to contradict, they actually go hand in hand because by being careful, by being wise, they create the mindset and the margin to invest big. And by being mostly careful, they still have the courage and the faith to go big. And what do we know? We know that the leaders that have it, they've got these extreme qualities don't shy away or shrink back from your extremes. Don't try to be good at a lot of things. Be extremely great at a few things, embrace your extremes because greatness is found in the extremes. Let's review.

What are the paradoxes? The leaders that have it, they're confident and they're humble. They're driven and they're healthy. They're focused and they're flexible. They're optimistic and they're realistic. They're direct in their communication and they're kind. They're empowering, they trust they delegate, but man, they have some standards they can be controlling. They're patient and they're urgent. They're frugal and they're abundant. What I wanna do is encourage you to pick one of the paradoxes to develop in your own leadership and talk about it with your team. And as you're going over this, my suggestion would be this chances are pretty good that you, as a leader should have one personal thing you're working on. And then there may be a separate and a different one organizationally.

So I'd like for you to work to define what is in your own leadership, a limiting extreme, where you have one that's natural, but something else that you may need to develop. Maybe all you do is you're really directing your communication, but you're not very kind. Or on the other hand, you're like really, really kind and really loving but you're not really direct. Pick the one that you need to grow in and define it because you cannot do what you don't define. And you may pick one organizationally.

Now, let talk to you about the book, in my book "Lead Like it Matters". We look at seven specific qualities that you find in an organization that has it. Anytime you see it in an organization, you'll find these qualities and this can help you grow in your leadership. I would just encourage you, get the book, get it for your team and whatever you do lead toward it. Don't settle for normal, push it. Grow, grow, grow, grow, find comfort in your discomfort because growth and comfort never coexist.

Now, if you don't have it, you can get it. I promise you. And in the next episode, we're gonna talk to a guy who definitely has it, Tim Tebow, fantastic interview. And again, I wanna say big thanks for being a part of our community. The leader guide, you do want to get it, go to Thank you for those of you who share, reviewing, rating it. Let's grow in our leadership. The world needs your leadership like never, ever before. So invest in it because we know that everyone wins when the leader gets better.
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