Andy Stanley on Moving Your Organization Forward


06 May 2019


Andy Stanley is founder of North Point Ministries, a Christian organization that has grown from one church in 1995 to seven in the Atlanta area, plus a network of more than 90 churches around the globe. That kind of growth is what all leaders would like to see in their respective organizations, but the important question is, how? How do we move the needle in our organizations, and what are the tools necessary to achieving growth?

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

Listen to the episode above and read on for some of the highlights from the interview. Join Andy for this year’s Leadercast Live, the world’s largest one-day leadership event happening THIS FRIDAY, May 10 at Infinite Energy Arena in Duluth, Georgia, and broadcast to a location near you.

The Secret Behind North Point’s Growth

Andy had two things to say about North Point’s growth as an organization: First, it was a total surprise. Second, it can be chalked up to having a great team of people. Andy says he never expected this kind of growth; he just wanted to create one church that unchurched people loved to attend.

But at its core, the big reason North Point has grown the way it has is because of the people the church hired, shares Andy, reciting a quote from Jim Collins, “You have to start with ‘who’ before ‘what.’” If you don’t have great people, it doesn’t matter how strong your mission statement is. Great people make great things happen.

North Point hires fantastic people and positions them for maximum impact, says Andy. This informs every hiring decision.

Advice on Hiring Well

When you start the hiring process, pay special attention to doers. “It’s easier to educate a doer than to activate a thinker,” explains Andy. TWEET

One thing you should ask when interviewing someone for a position is, “What have you done?” If the interviewee can’t point to anything they’ve done, they probably won’t do very much for you, shares Andy.

Find doers and don’t be hesitant to educate people, even if they’re lacking in that area. When you find a great person, invest in them. Find great people, get them educated, then set them free to do what they’re wired to do, he says.

Lesson Learned Early On

Andy is a huge fan of having clear mission statements from the beginning, and in every corner of an organization. He mentions Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In it, Covey notes that the bellmen at The Ritz-Carlton have their own mission statements. (Dubious, Andy spoke to a few key people who ran The Ritz-Carlton hotels and confirmed that this was true.)

Andy explains that every single person in an organization should be able to answer three key questions:

  1. What are we doing as an organization?
  2. Why are we doing it?
  3. How do I fit in?

You want every person in your organization to answer the first two questions the same way, but have a unique answer to No. 3.

Creating a Brand People Want to Be Part Of

An organization has to decide what they are and what they aren’t, who they are and who they aren’t, says Andy. TWEET

When North Point started its church in the Southeast, they were told it wouldn’t work because everyone knew what a church was and their plan was too different. But uniqueness and scarcity can be leveraged in any organization.

“If you have the only hotdog stand in town, your hotdogs don’t have to be that good,” shares Andy.

Not everybody liked the product their church was providing, but for those who did, North Point was the only place to get it. Finding uniqueness is extremely time-consuming but, at the end of the day, there has to be differentiation, and a big part of that is defining very clearly what you’re not.

Establishing Flourishing Teams

This will be the topic of Andy’s opening talk at Leadercast Live 2019. At the event, he’ll talk about four essentials to highly productive teams. He shares one of the points he will make: Every team has to have the rhythm of orchestrating and evaluating.

Orchestration answers the question: How do we do things here? The other side of that coin is evaluation, which asks: How do we make what we do better?

The best teams have a healthy tension between ‘how we do things here’ and making the process better at the same time. You have to make your customer experience predictable, then evaluate and tweak it.

“We tend not to do an autopsy on our success,” says Andy. “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.” TWEET

Parting Words

Andy advises a leader must be a student first and a critic second. As soon as we start criticizing ideas we don’t understand, we stop learning, he says. He notes a quote from Eric Hoffer, “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.”

It’s human nature to resist things we don’t understand, and things we can’t control. But if you, as a leader, can learn to catch yourself before you tap the breaks, if you can learn to recognize your resistance, you’ll be prepared for the world that is to come—which is a much better world to be prepared for than the one that’s already come and gone.

“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.” — Andy Stanley

* * *

This post is based on a podcast interview with Andy Stanley, leadership communicator, author, founder of North Point Ministries and Leadercast Live 2019 speaker. Hear more from Andy on the topic of leadership by subscribing to The Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast and visiting each month to download the free application guide that goes with each episode.

To hear this episode of the Leadercast Podcast, and many more like it, subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play or Stitcher.


Leadercast is on a mission to fill the world with leaders worth following through world-class leadership events, content solutions and resources to grow the impact of leaders everywhere. Learn more at

Subscribe to our leadership content