The Leadercast Podcast
The Leadercast Podcast

Episode · 3 years ago

25. Andy Stanley on Moving Your Organization Forward


Andy Stanley is the Founder of North Point Ministries, which has grown from one church in 1995 to seven now in the Atlanta area, plus a network of more than 90 churches around the globe.

The natural next question is, How in the world did it happen?

In this episode, Andy shares the leadership principles that have guided North Point’s growth, including his thoughts on how to hire well, creating a brand that people want to be aligned with, and how to establish flourishing teams.

This is the leader cast podcast, helping you be a leader worth following. Hello and welcome to another episode of the leader cast podcast. I'm Haley Panagakus, your host for this episode. So our content theme for May two thousand and nineteen at leader cast is growth, and we are delving into topics like how to build your organization, how to boost your brand and how to invest in your team. In this episode, where honored to welcome a leader who can speak to all of this and more. Andy Stanley is founder of North Point Ministry, a Christian organization that has grown from one church in one thousand nine hundred and ninety five to now seven in the Atlanta Area, plus a network of more than ninety churches around the globe serving a hundred and eighty five thousand people on a weekly basis. Andy is author to more than twenty books and is an expert leadership communicator. He has a podcast for leaders, which is the Andy Stanley leadership podcast, and he's also a veteran speaker for leader cast live, which is the world's largest one day leadership event. We have the pleasure of welcoming Andy to our leadercast live stage again this year. So before we jump into the episode, I want to share a quick message about our leadercast live event coming up this Friday may ten in Zuluth, Georgia. Leader cast live is the largest one day leadership event in the world, joined tens of thousands of fellow leaders live in Atlanta or at a host site near you. Visit live DOT leader Castcom to learn more. Listeners again, our two thousand and nineteen leader cast live event will take place this Friday may tent at the infinite energy arena, located just outside of Atlanta and broadcast to a location near you. Andy will be joined by a cast of leaders who will speak on this year scheme of leading healthy teams, which will include CBS this morning's Gale King Author Patrick Winc Yoni, communication pathologist Dr Caroline Leaf, award winning chef Marcus Samuelson and several others. Again, you can buy your ticket and learn more about this event at live DOT leader caastcom. Now let's dive into the episode. Here is my conversation with Andy Stanley. Andy, welcome, thank you for being here. Wow, thanks for having me, Hayley. So north point has seen just so much growth since it launched almost twenty five years ago. And I know that this year you opened up new locations as well, so congrats on that. That's amazing. Well, thanks. So do you want to share with our leaders what has been paramount for you as a leader to accomplish this growth that you're seeing a north point? Well, first of all, the gross has been a surprise to me. When we launched we were twenty worth or twenty three years old. We lost. I just wanted to create one fantastic surt specifically that unchurch people would love to attend. So that was kind of our brand and kind of our distinctive, because every organization needs a distinctive, something that sets them apart from the competition and a church world, of course we don't think in terms of competition, but we feel like we're competing with everything that's going on in culture on a Sunday. Yeah, so we just wanted one great organization and for me as a leader, the Sunday morning part and it would be kind of easy on our preachers kids. That's a little bit intuitive, but I wanted a great organization Monday through Friday and as a result we were able to scale and we're grow. Were able to multiply and we were on the front end of the multi side phase with churches. Some of your listeners are familiar with that, and then also streaming and online all that stuff. So I would say number one surprise and number two it's what Jim Collins has reminded all of us of a few years ago. You have to start with who before what. When you get great people, great things happen. If you don't have great people, it doesn't matter how strong your mission statement is or your corporate values. Great people make great things happen. And when you find great people, or the way we say it, we like to hire fantastic people and position them...

...for maximum impact. And when you do that and you have a good product or you've got a good, you know, picture of the preferred future, amazing things happen and I feel like I have been along for the ride. But again, every single day it's hey, where the great people? How do we set them free to do with their designed to do? And in any industry you're just going to create momentum. And I think those are the two things. Surprised and just great people. Yeah, so you mentioned hiring, which is something I was going to ask about later on. I have a question about it, but let's go ahead and talk about that because that is just such a critical element and leading a healthy team, and that's what we're talking about leader test life. So do you have any advice for how leaders can hire well for the organizations? Well, that's a big topic. But the yeah, the thing that I kind of go to and that sort of drives our hiring process a little bit. I'm interested in doers. It's easier to educate a doer than to activate a thinker, and that's the that's a little bit of a Polari unfair polarity and contrast, but you know, there're people who are think there's people who are doers and if you want things to get done, you hire doers and then you educated doers easier than activating a thinker. So one of the questions that we ask in the hiring process is what have you done? We know where you've worked, you know, that's on your resume. We know how long you've work there, we know where you went to school, we know you you got all the basic stuff. But tell us, and this is a this is a tricky question, you know, to say somebody to tell you know, tell us what have you done, because if somebody in the hiring process can't point to anything they've done, chances are they probably not going to do a lot for you and the organization. So yeah, again, to grow you got to have people who wake up, gettingselves up in the morning, her internally motivated, and so we're you know, we try to hire doers, and that's we're not against education. In fact, we spend more money probably the name Church in America when it comes to educating master's degree, with theological education, all kind of education for people who come to work for us. Because again, when you even when you find a great person, you invest in them and oftentimes that's just for during their education, which keeps them around and create some loyalty with the organization. So find great people, get em educated and then said, I'm free to do with their their wired to do. And as simple as that sounds, it's not easy to do, but there is always good result on the other side of it. Formula. Yeah, and they'll growth that you're seeing at North Point is definitely a testament to that for sure. So you mentioned earlier that you started out if you wanted to lead a single church like you didn't have plans for what you're seeing today, but leading a single church in another so that's no easy test. So what did you learn early on as a leader that you are still using today? Well, I have been from the beginning a big fan of clear mission vision statements and I really I was first introduced to this way back in the late s when I read Stephen Covey's book the seven half as highly affective people. In that book he talked about the Bellman at the Ritz Carlton's having their own mission statement and I remember reading that thinking why would a bellman at a hotel mission stick? Does anybody really want to grow up and be a bellman? No offense to the Bellman's but it's because I was not educated in the sophisticated really the art and science of being a bellman at an upscale hotel. Just happened to through my parents know Bill Johnson, who is deceased, and Bill Johnson at the time owned all of the Ritz Carlton Hotels Except for one in the whole world. He was he just into long interesting story. So I went to see bill and I said Bill, Stephen Covey says that the element at the rich carlsonce have mission statements is that true and said absolutely, and he introduced me to horse shields, who is or course, of course, salty, who I've had on my podcast and maybe you have as well. It was kind of the brilliant behind that whole idea of mission statements, and I went and sat down with him and I walked away convent that this is from at every level in the organization. Everybody needs to be able to answer three questions. What are we doing, why are we doing it, and how do I fit in? What are we doing organizationally? Why are we doing it organizationally? And then, individually, where do I fit in or how do I fit in? And so from the very beginning I have my leadership has really been about taking those three questions. The first two questions everybody in an organization...

...should answer the same way, and the third question is basically, here's why I'm important to the organization, here's where or how I fit in. So yes, from the very beginning that's been a part of what we do and I still do that to this very day when I drop into what our audit, your audience, would consider a business unit and I go in and I've got new team, New People to manage, new leadership team. I start right there. Here's what we're doing, here's why we're doing it, and then I have them create and craft a single responsibility statement. If all else fails, here's what I'm depending on you to do, and that's been a part of my leadership from the beginning and I find it to be super helpful because it's again helps people get on the same page now and that's pretty it's pretty simple too, which is great. Yeah, so that CON ties into building an organization, you know, having mission statements as a very big part of that. So do you have what are some key tips to building a brand that people want to align themselves with, both because you have your audience that is very aligned brand, but you also have your staff. I mean that's a critical that's critical too. So what tips do you have for building a brand that people would want to align themselves with? With the audience? When it comes to brand, there's again there's the books written on this, but essentially an organization has to decide who they are and what they are and what they aren't and who they aren't and this is very difficult, especially when you're selling something, because you want everybody to buy what you're selling and everybody knows not everybody's going to buy what you're selling or like what you're selling. So the way that I describe it sometimes is relating related to our organization. When we started our church we had a very unique church, especially for the southeastern United States. If that, we were told this won't work in the southeast because the southeast is so church everybody knows what the church is, everybody has expectations for a church and what you're doing is so different it's not going to work. But uniqueness and limited accessibility and limited availability scarcity are all things that can be leverage for an organization. So the way I play it when I tell the stories, I said you know it, if you have the only hot dog stand in town, your hot dogs don't have to be all that good because anybody that wants a hot dog has to come to your hot dog stand. Well, when in church world we had the only hot dog stand in town. Not Everybody liked our product, but if you liked our product, we were the only place to get it. So, in terms of the facing outward part of any organization, having the courage to limit your audience on purpose and create some sort of uniqueness and differentiation between your products into the products, especially when it comes to brand. It's extremely, extremely important. Otherwise you just get lost in the noise and audity marketing gets lost in the noise and everybody, and you know the world of marketing understands this, and trying to find that uniqueness, that differentiation, is can be extremely time consuming. It's all about words, it's all about design, it's all about all the things that we love to get involved in, but in the end of the day there has to be differentiation or nobody's going to know that your product, your brand, is any difference. So for us we did that early on. Again, we were told it would work. People had all kinds of suggestions and ideas and we're like, nope, that's not what we do. We are creating a church that unchurched people love to attend. So if you love church, there's plenty of churches for you to go to. If you're not worried about people who don't go to church, plenty of churches for you to go to. We're creating a church unchurched people love to attend and we just stuck with that differentiator and consequently, you know, we garnered the attention of a community and now a lot of communities. Yeah, when it when it comes to looking internally into the organization, that's when culture is extremely important because the culture, the culture of the organization, is the brand for the people who work there. And so building strong culture, again around predictable values, predictable behaviors, anything that helps to find the culture. That again, that's how you great feet get great people who think alike, who see the world in the same way and yet at the same time are open to the market place and don't turn their back on the market. So a little bit two different approaches, but to your the point of your question, both are extremely important. Yeah, so that kind of times into my next question. And an organization's growth is the result, like he said, it's...

...a result of the team of people who made it happen. In the North Point is an example of that. So our theme for this year's leader custom I, which you'll be speaking at, as leading healthy teams. So I'd like to ask how do leaders established teams that will enable their organizations to flourish? Well, this is a topic for my opening talk a leader cast, so I'm super excited about that. And there I think there are four essentials to highly productive team and I'm just going to talk about one because of time. But to the point of your question, every team has to have the rhythm of orchestrating and evaluating, orchestrating and evaluating. I got the word orchestrating from Michael Gerber's book. The emith revisited that. Our team read, you know, twenty something years ago, and he talks in that book about orchestration and orchestration answers the question. This is how we do it here, or how do we do it here? And in every restaurant, every business there's that. There's an orchestration, but at the same time the flip side of that is evaluation, because evaluations how you make it better. So in every organization there is a healthy tension between this is how we do it here, because we want a predictable experience for her customer, but at the same time we want to make that experience better. So you have to make it predict table, you have to evaluate and then you have to tweak it. So the way I teach our staff, and one of the things I'll talk about at leader cast this year is this whole rhythm of orchestration and evaluation. Orchestration and evaluation create predictable experience, but at the same time there has to be something in the rhythm of the organization, not just when things go wrong, in the rhythm of the organization to make sure things are getting better. We tend not to do an autopsy on our success we generally just do autopsies on our failures. But if you don't know why it's working when it's working, you can't fix it once it breaks. So again, this internal rhythm of orchestration evaluation is critical and every organization and again as how you train people in your culture, and it's how you create a great team, because everybody wants a sense of predictability, but leaders want to sense of adventure and change and you have to have both. Yeah, well, I'm looking forward to hearing the other three points that you're going to make it better. So you kind of and answer this a little bit already, but what does leading a healthy team look like to you? Yeah, well, for me personally, and I guess there's some takeaways, but I don't want to be too specific in terms of personal because it may not apply to everybody else. But I tell our point leaders all the time. You have to find a rhythm that works for you, because when you are in your rhythm are when you're playing to your own game or your you know, when you found the right beat of life for you, you will be at your best. And when a leader's at his or her best, they bring the best out of other people. And I play to somebody else's rhythm, or if I play to somebody else's schedule, because that's a big part of this, is scheduling, then I'm not at my best. And when I'm not at my best, I don't bring the most important thing a leader brings to the organization. The most important thing a leader brings to the organization is not ideas. The most important thing you bring is your energy, because energy is contagious and a lack of energy is it's contagious as well. So I have to find the rhythm works for me and then, and here's where a lot of leaders struggle, I have to give myself permission to play to that rhythm, even though it's not everybody else's rhythm. And early on in my leadership I didn't understand this, and so I tried to work the typical hours, try to be the last person to leave I'm trying to set a good example by kind of plague to everybody else's rhythm and I realized, you know what, I I'm not I'm not at my best, and if I'm not at my best, ever, nobody else is going to be at their best either. So I think leaders find have to find their rhythm, give themselves permission to play to that rhythm, explain it to the team around and hey, this is when I'm coming in, this is when I'm leaving, this is what I this is when I work from home, this is when I expect us to meet and when we again, when we find that rhythm. And because of where I am my season of life, that rhythm changes from season to season. When I we...

...had no kids, it was one thing. Where we had babies, it was something else. When everybody hit high school, something else. Now that I'm an empty Nester, I basically we work all the time. So giving myself that permission to again work to my rhythm allows me to bring my best energy in. A leader has to bring their best energy to work because energy is contagious. Yeah, so that definitely ties into work life balance. So do you have any tips on how leaders can stay on top of their schedules at work and at home. I mean a lot of us. I mean you've seen many of the seasons already. So what tips with you have for leaders on? Well, I wrote a whole book on this because it's such a big deal. Is called when family and work collide, or when work in family collide. Do used to be called choosing cheat, which I liked better, but the publishers eventually change the title to when working family collide, because there is a constant tension. You you should love to go home and you should love to be at work. That's that's the perfect world. I love what I do. I love it when I'm at work, but at the end of the day or whenever, I love to go home, and there is a way to create that. And you know, again, it's not so much balance, even though I understand why you ask the question that way, because we think in terms of balance. It really is rhythm and every couple, every married couple, every couple that's raising kids together, they have to find a rhythm and somebody is going to be cheated. I you can't. I think in the perfect even in the perfect world, there is not enough time to shit everything done. There's just nice. So you got to cheat somewhere and in certain seasons of life you have to cheat your career for the sake of family. And what I've learned is down the road, your your organization, is going to get all that time back because if you if you raise your kids the way you want to raise them, if you keep your family intact, your marriage of priority. I'm at the end of the day, it all comes back to you. But there's no need in the world to sacrifice, especially family, for career. And just one more statement on that, and this is what I say to Dad's when I have an opportunity to talk to men, and this is true for wives, is well, but I feel like I have a little bit more leverage when I'm talking to men. I say, Hey, guys, you only have one unique role in the world. Your only unique role is father to your children. Wherever you're working, one day somebody else is going to have your job, somebody else could own your company and somebody else can steal your wife. Okay, so you're all things unique, cruel. I know it's kind of crash but or you know your life. Can go find yourself another husband. You only have one unique role in your life if you're a father, and that is father to your kids. So why would you, why would you sacrifice what only you can do for something somebody else will do? Because some day somebody else is going to have your job? So prioritizing family and then figuring out in the rhythm of life, how to keep all the other place. Think it's possible to do that, and I'm telling you, the men and women who get that right they never ever regret it. And of course, Hayley, we both know you know people who wish they could go back and do that again. So yeah, absolutely, well, I love that. Not Balance, it's rhythm. So Andy have to say you are just a content Miss Shane, and being in content myself, like I just have to know your process. I have to know how. How do you do it, like, how do you manage your schedule, and do you have any secret to staying productive as a leader? Well, again, everybody has to find their way of collecting and creating content, and you're right. But my job, I mean by you know, I have three primary responsibilities in our organization. One of them is to create content and to communicate. You know, Thirty Five, thirty seven times a year to all of our churches. So I am constantly in content collection mode and then, on top of that, you know opportunities like leader casts and speaking to leaders. So I'm I have my own little secret ways, like everybody does, a collecting things, organizing things. I don't have a research assistant. I hear about those and I think wouldn't that be nice? But because of I'm a I don't Hay, I don't know if you're into any a gram or not, but I'm a five on any gram, which means I just want to know everything.

So I am ridiculously curious about all things and so I just love information, I love to learn. So I think that's helped me continue to be curious and to, you know, to pay attention, as Sam Harris as, to the frontiers of my own ignorance and that that's easy for me, because I'm ignorant about both things. Most things, I'm sort of constantly in information collection, organization, content mode. But again, in terms of keeping that a balance with running or keeping finding the rhythm of doing that in running the organization, that has looked different again in every season of life and I've had to learn to give myself permission to adjust my schedule to the season of life I am then and to the specific responsibilities that I'm carrying. So again, that's different season the season, but it's something all of us have to pay attention to. Yeah, sure, so, being in content, I mean all of us experience those times when we're in a Rut. So and I'm sure that you experienced that as well. So what do you do when you're in a Rut? How do you get unstuck? Well, when I'm at home working, stander will hear me say my message has no point. I have pages of words and no point. You can do it, you'll get it. So yeah, you know it's so at some point, especially if you're a rider or content creator, it just after a while it's just one more sentence on a page. So for me. But what I have to do is I have to remember why I'm doing this, who I'm doing it for, and in my case, I'm so fortunate, I have to think about how many other people, how many people there are on the other side of a camera, on the other side of a camera for me on the weekends, it's just ridiculously enormous, especially we years ago started buying thirty minute time slots after Saturday night live around the country. So we're on it like thirty markets after Saturday night live. We're on a list in the whole country after the late, late show. And then there's the whole Sunday morning thing. So when I think about the teenagers who need answers, when I think about the single moms who are struggling for answers, when I think about the dads who are wrestling with you know, how do I prioritize, you know, my kids in a world where my friends aren't avertising family? When I think about women in the workplace who are navigating just the complexity of work plus navigating the complexity of, you know, being a woman in the workplace, regardless of our laws, it's they're still specific pressures on the so all of those things, when I start thinking about the people on the other end of the microphone, on the other end of the camera, you know, sit up straight, kind of get my act together, quit feeling stirrings for myself and thinking wow, I have this incredible opportunity. It's a stewardship. I have to be a good steward of this and I have to be my best every single time because so much hangs in the balance, oftentimes of you know, words that come out of my mouth, as strange, as strange as that is. So I just think about that that audience. Yeah, well, Andy, I know that I want to be mindful of your time, but is there anything that I missed that you like her leaders to novel? Well, one of the quotes that kind of rattles around in my head, and I don't know where I bumped into this, but there's a philosopher named Eric Hoffer. I think that's how you pronounce his name. I've never heard it pronounced and I pulled this off of an article I read and I think about it all the time. He said in times of profound change, which is certainly now right, in times of profound change, the learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists. And I love that quote because it forces me to look forward, it forces me to continue to be curious, it forces me to surround myself with people who aren't like me, don't think like me, who don't see the work sent the world the same way I do, because I want to be a learner and I want to be want to be prepared to lead into the future and to lead our organization as the world around US changes, and I don't want to be a leader who is beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists. Yeah, so we should all be learners. Should Yep, I'll be fives then. Now you know what I say. The easiest way to capture that idea is to be a student first and a critic second. Be a student, not a critics, a...

...student. As soon as we start criticizing ideas we don't understand, we stopped learning. And it is human nature to to resist things we don't understand and things we can't control. It is just human nature to resist anything we don't understand and things we can't control. And if we, if leaders, leaders could just learn to catch themselves before they tapped the breaks and say, wait a minute, I'm just resisting this because I don't control it, I'm just resisting this because I don't understand it. If we can not do that, we learned so much and again we're better prepared for what the future holds. So yeah, and so leaders definitely have to fight that mentality. Do you have any to some on how to go about doing that? I think for me it's just learning to catch myself doing that. Yeah, you know, as soon as I start to be negative, as soon as I start criticizing, you know, somebody talks about an idea and I find myself beginning to think about all the things that are wrong with it, and then I just tell myself shut up and listen at ask questions, don't make comment, don't try to be the smartest person in the room. You know, whenever leaders think you're the smartest person in the room, it's a failure of leadership. I don't want to ever be the smartest person in the room. I want to surround myself with people who are smarter than me and you don't have to be the smartest person to be the leader. Fact, when people ask me about our organization, I willingly admit I say, Hey, the reason I'm the leader is because I got here first and has nothing to do with Iq or even leadership ability. So, HMM, should all be curious. Yeah. Well, Andy, it has been such a pleasure speaking with you and we're just so excited to have you on our stage. I know that our audience is going to learn so many more tools that you've shared today and also on our stage, so I really appreciate you taking the time. Well, Hayley, you ask good questions and I can't wait to see you at leader cast. is going to be great. Yeah, we're so, so excited. Listeners, you can hear more from Andy on the topic of leadership by subscribing to the Andy Stanley leadership podcast and visiting Andy stanleycom each month to download the free application guide that goes with each episode. Thank you for tuning in today. Please share this podcast and be sure to subscribe so you never miss an episode, and we will see you here next time for another episode of the leader cast podcast. Thanks for tuning in to the leader cast podcast. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player.

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