It’s OK to exhibit extremes – in fact, it’s probably preferable.

“Greatness is found in the extremes,” said Craig Groeschel, the opening speaker for this year’s Global Leadership Summit. “Don’t let someone talk you into being average.”

An individual’s seemingly contradictory qualities can create a “synergy of undeniable leadership impact,” Groeschel said, before listing several examples:

Confident, yet humble

Driven, but healthy

Focused and flexible

Optimistic, yet realistic

Direct and kind

Empowering and controlling

Urgent and patient

Frugal and abundant

The first set of extremes, confident and humble, is critical.

“When you think about it, what kind of leader do you want to follow?” Groeschel said, speaking rhetorically about confidence and humility. “One without the other is not effective.”

Being driven, yet healthy, and focused but flexible are the other most important extremes, Groeschel said. Leaders that have “it” – what it takes to succeed – are generally growing in both areas of each set.

Groeschel had a live audience that one GLS official said numbered about 300,000 when he talked about extremes Aug. 4. That was the first of a two-day annual leadership summit based at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois. Held each year in August, the summit is broadcast via satellite to dozens of other communities and even some correctional facilities.

Fort Wayne has been a satellite site – and now one of the best attended – for 19 years. Nearly 2,000 registrations were affiliated with the Fort Wayne satellite, the local host organization announced during the summit. The majority of those individuals gathered at Grand Wayne Convention Center downtown, while others viewed from Huntington and Kendallville.

Groeschel is a New York Times best-selling author and pastor of Life.Church, in Edmond, Oklahoma, and developed the popular YouVersion Bible app. It has been downloaded on more than 500 million devices.

Groeschel’s newest book – “Lead Like It Matters” – was released this month. Although he comes from a faith-based perspective, Groeschel believes the book can help leaders beyond religious circles. Groeschel said he’s learned a lot from non-faith leaders. His church has been named by Glassdoor as a No. 1 U.S. Best Place to Work.

During his presentation, Groeschel, whose church has locations in multiple states, said he’s not interested in hiring “well-rounded” people. He wants extreme people. Sometimes attributes that seem so opposite can actually be explosive – in a good way.

The key is balance.

Take the driven and healthy combination. “If you’re driven, but not healthy, you’re never going to keep ‘it,’ ” Groeschel said, noting that many people are overstressed. “Some of you, you’re doing too much,” he said.

Many people are not tired, but depleted; they’re not recovering because they’re not unplugging. But leaders also have to grow in their tolerance for work and stress, Groeschel said.

Then there’s the focused and flexible set of extremes.

“If we aren’t ruthlessly focused, we’ll never get ‘it,’ and if we are flexibly focused, we’ll never keep it,” Groeschel said, playing off of a word in the title of his new book and also used in his first.

What-ifs can be the greatest barriers to success, he said. It’s not always about what you can do, but what you should do.

“In many ways, the essence of great leadership is choosing what not to do,” Groeschel said.

One gauge would be to consider, if you were making a fresh start today, whether there’s a project you’re engaged in that you would take on again.

“We don’t change the world by doing good things,” Groeschel said, “we change the world by doing the best things.”

More to come

I’ll share additional highlights from the summit later this month in Lead On.

Along with Groeschel, other speakers included Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management; Vanessa Van Edwards, founder and lead behavioral investigator, Science of People; and Lynsi Snyder, owner and president of In-N-Out Burger.

Bob Iger, former CEO and executive chairman of The Walt Disney Co., participated in a question-and-answer session.

To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at Lead On also appears online as a blog at

Managing Editor

Managing Editor Lisa Green has more than 35 years of experience at newspapers in Illinois and Indiana. She has worked at The Journal Gazette since 2000, initially as business editor. She has a biweekly leadership column/blog called "Lead On."