Leadership Lessons From The Catalyst Leadership Labs 2014

Wednesday was the unofficial start of the Catalyst Leadership Conference in Atlanta. It’s unofficial because it was the lab sessions (but, if I’m honest, the labs have become my favorite part of the Catalyst Conference experience).

The labs are an amazing feature of Catalyst. The Catalyst Labs are different from the Catalyst Conference main sessions. With the Labs, you will only be forced to see 2-3 specified speakers and then there are 3 breakout sessions where you can choose the leadership speaker you would like to see. It adds a fun element to the Catalyst experience.

Catalyst Atlanta 2014 Blogger meetup

Reggie Joiner of the Orange Conference opened up the PreLab session. While his points on leadership were spot on, I took away pointers on how to present well in addition to the leadership lessons.

This section will be a mix of presentation tips and leadership lessons presented in Reggie Joiner’s session.

1. Use great props to engage your audience: Reggie’s presentations are always engaging and that’s because Reggie knows how to use great props. As he took the stage, you saw stacks of books behind him. Throughout the presentation he would step back and take a book that would reveal part of his lesson.

This was brilliant. As I talked with others about Reggie’s presentation, everyone mentioned the props and how engaging they were.

What prop or props could you use to grab the attention of those you’re speaking to? Find something that works and use it.

2. Keep slideshows simple and minimalistic: You’ll find many presenters try to jam as much information into a slideshow as humanly possible. Font size will decrease to unreadable, layouts will become sloppy, and the presentation will become distracting.

Reggie knew to keep things simple. His slides rarely contained more than a few words but they delivered what was needed.

3. Teach lessons properly: Have you ever found yourself turned off by a message? It didn’t have to be a bad message but one that was delivered poorly? Reggie shared that we dilute what is true by the way we teach.

This means that we can teach right things but in a wrong way that will not be taken well.

Pay attention to what you’re teaching and how you’re delivering the message. Your delivery matters.

4. Allow for tension: In many organizations the idea of tension is quickly rejected as being bad and out of line. Tension is viewed as something to be avoided.

We’ve got to get over this incorrect thought. Tension isn’t bad. Tension is necessary.

Reggie used another great presentation prop to illustrate this lesson. He passed out rubber wristbands to the crowd before they entered the auditorium. During the presentation, Reggie told use to take the rubber bands and throw it at the person next to us.

What happened? A flimsy band of rubber barely impacted our neighbor. Next, Reggie Joiner told us to pull back on the rubber band and let it go on our neighbor (He told us to stop before anyone actually did this). Pulling and putting tension on the rubber band gave it a lot more power.

Don’t be cared of the tension…

After Reggie Joiner, Mark Batterson had the opening lab session. If you don’t know who Mark Batterson is, he’s the author of The Circle Maker and the lead pastor at a church in Washington, DC.

Batterson’s session also packed a nice punch.

5. Watch for the experiences: His quote that “Powerful moments don’t come from speakers, powerful moments come from experiences” really struck me.

Leaders will go to conferences and think it’s all about the speakers. The speakers can only deliver so much. And it’s not a lot in the long run.

Rather, we’ve got to look for experiences that we connect to. Whether it’s meeting other leaders or helping someone who is hurting. These meetings and helpings will be the true powerful moments.

6. Stop seeking miracles: The expectations of miracles happening has been gaining steam more and more lately. People are even chasing miracles rather than chasing Jesus.

This causes an issue as we’ve begun to place miracles higher than Jesus. And then we wonder why we don’t see miracles happen anymore.

We need to stop seeking and chasing after miracles. Miracles are great but they’re a poor substitute for Jesus.

7. Dream bigger: Over time, our dreams and hopes become dashed and we begin to dream smaller dreams. Our hopes for our business or organization shrinks. We believe great things aren’t possible.

Our dreams have become small.

God doesn’t do a lot with small dreams. Rather, He’s looking for big dreamers. People who are excited and know God can do great things.

Make your dreams a little bigger. And then bigger. And then even bigger.

After Mark Batterson, the choice of lab speakers opened up. For the next session, I chose Ian Cron. I’d first heard of Ian from Michael Hyatt. In fact, I even won one of his books from Michael. So, to say the least, I was really interested in hearing from Ian.

I’ll be honest, Ian’s session has me feeling conflicted. In one sense it was great. It’s provoked quite a bit of conversation. On the other hand, I disagreed with a lot of what he said. I’m not sure whether or not I really cared for the session but I think it was something I needed to hear.

8. You can disagree but still get something out of a presentation: Ian Cron presented many ideas that were outside of my comfort zone. They didn’t sit well with me but they’ve challenged me.

There’s been many conversations in the short period of time since I heard him speak and those conversations have been pretty deep.

Disagreeing and learning can still happen. Don’t let an opposing viewpoint kill your desire to see someone. You may be surprised as to what happens when you do.

9. Have conversations: Ian made mention that he loves to have conversations. Conversations pull out deeper issues and they get messy. But they’re also where healing, hope, and learning take place.

Conversations are scary but they’re vital. Be willing to get dirty in the conversations you have.

10. Pursuing authenticity can cause us to be inauthentic: Everyone’s striving to be authentic. People are trying to show just how real they are.

But in this pursuit of authenticity, a lot of inauthentic actions are happening. We’re putting on masks because we think that’s what people want.

Stop trying to impress with your authenticity. It may be pulling you to be inauthentic.

The last Labs session I caught for the Catalyst 2014 was by a man named Sergio De LaMora. He’s a pastor from California with a wonderful back story. I won’t share that in this post but you can look forward to an interview with Sergio De LaMore where I go into more depths.

Sergio’s lab session had to be my favorite His passion and desires hit so close to home I could feel it.

11. Ask those you lead to lead: Great leaders know a thing or two about leading well. They also know that to lead well you have to ask those you lead to step up and lead in new places.

Look for those under you who have the potential to be great leaders. Then ask them to step up to the plate.

12. Know the difference between rules and principles: Jesus was a rule breaker but He wasn’t a principle breaker. He knew there was a difference and broke the things that didn’t matter.

Have you looked for areas in your life that are beholden to rules? We all have areas where we’ve made rules that don’t need to exist, or exist any longer. Know that rules can change and bend and be willing to break the rules that no longer apply.

13. Being marketed by man doesn’t mean you’re marked by God: This leadership lesson had a profound impact on me. We’re often seeking out the approval of man. When we get the approval, we believe that we’ve been marked by God.

This isn’t always the case. Sometimes it’s just that man has found you to be interesting or marketable.

Our goal isn’t to strive to be marketable by man. Our goal is to be marked by God.

Overall, the Catalyst 2014 Labs were a great time. The leaders who spoke delivered great and challenging messages.

There was also a great opportunity to mingle with other leaders. This is a portion of the conference many leaders overlook.

The Catalyst Conference is a gathering of leaders from many different backgrounds. There’s a great opportunity to rub shoulders with other great business and church leaders at an event like this. If you miss the opportunity, you’re missing out on one of the most valuable points of the conference.

Question: Have you ever been to the labs session at Catalyst? If so, what did you think of the labs? If not, what do you think you could learn from the labs if you did attend? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.