How to Lead Like Billy Graham
People change us most.
Michael Hyatt recounts a meeting he had with Billy Graham in 1983. Hyatt wrote, “… In 20 minutes, he had an impact on me that would forever change the way I think about leadership.”
4 years later
In 1987, Billy Graham spoke to a group of leaders in Denver, Colorado and said, leaders need integrity. He defined it as being the same person on the inside as you claim to be on the outside.
“There is no discrepancy. Integrity is the source of confidence.”
Application: Leaders with integrity speak out because they don’t fear being found out.
In the same talk, Graham said, leaders need emotional security that comes from, “… knowing and accepting who we are, why we’re here, and where we’re going.”
Application: Emotional security begins when we focus on “who” before “what.” Frances Hesslbein put it this way, “Leadership is a matter of who to be, not how to do.”
Graham went on to say leaders need, “… the ability to separate the trivial from the important. It’s essential for daily tasks and direction in life. Until priorities are straight, everything else will be out of order.”
Application: Who you are is more important than what you do.
The three questions of leadership:
The three most important questions of leadership are:
- Who am I.
- Who do I aspire to be.
- How can I bring myself to today’s challenges and opportunities.
Who before how:
Let who you are drive the train. You lose yourself when “how to” drives. In the process, you lose purpose and meaning.
Billy Graham’s outside person expressed his inside. That’s how he impacted Hyatt and millions of others.
The real power of leadership is “who” before “how.” Methods are fakery until they come to life in an authentic person.
What happens when “how to” takes precedence over “who you are?”
Who has changed you?
The message is so simple yet too often disregarded by those people in the position who actually has the greatest opportunity to be the real leader.
Those three questions are the questions that all of us should ask ourselves. As we all know, we hold a leadership role in different capacities, therefore this applies to all of us.
Thanks for posting this.
Thanks Avant. Wisdom is often deceptively simple. It’s in the application that the challenge of wisdom emerges. It’s so easy to ASK the question, “Who am I?” The challenge appears when we actually try to answer.
I’m glad you take these questions beyond leadership. The stuff of leaders is, so frequently, the stuff of life.
More than answering the question, it’s living with that answer.
As for myself, I’ve had shares of disappointments about leaders and about me in that capacity as well. A growing process – its the “being” of a leader. On on hand, when can a leader be vulnerable?
Good point on “living with the answer.” Thanks.
If I understand your question re: vulnerability, I think, from a leadership point of view, the limit is what is useful to the organization. What do you think?
I’m troubled by an indulgent vulnerability that treats organizations like a self-help group.
I’m interested what you meant about indulgent vulnerability. Could you tell me more? I want to learn more.
My reference to vulnerability, when can leaders show true compassion, empathy and empowerment without being seen as weak and incapable? As for me, I thought this could be empowering because it shows the human side from that role. It’s the “being” of a leader so we can fully work on the core purpose of the team (within the organization).
I see indulgent vulnerability as an excuse not to challenge ourselves. We use “who we are” as a reason to say, “that’s just not who I am.” Taken one way, that’s totally healthy. In another way, it’s just laziness. I’ve seen both examples in others and in me.
Great point. Thanks for exchanging these ideas with me. I appreciate it. I wonder what are your thoughts of things I wrote. I appreciate the feedback.
I find your comments insightful. The inclusion of compassion is one of the things that grabbed my attention.
Thank you Dan for that, much appreciated. I would surely love to see more of your posts too. So, inspiring.
Great Stuff Dan!!
My first sponsor David, in AA changed me!
Edwards Demming, Napolean Hill, Simon Sinek, Bob Chapman, Allysa Milano, Marrisa Tomei, my Momma, my favorite gal Samm,
Yeah the people we meet, the books we read.
Brendon Bruchard showing me if he can be successful online I certainly can be. Jon Benson creating Video Sales Letters and online marketers sending text only info products. Selling with sight and sound, delivering their info products in sight modality only!!!! Cha-Ching!!!!
Gives me the opportunity to do to ebooks what CDs did to cassettes!!!
Just add sound to information products, folks remember sight and sound better than either or!!! How simple and cool is that??
Even though I do not agree with Dr Graham’s theology I admire his tenacity sticking to his story. Admire the man.
Good stuff today Dan.
Thanks Scott. Isn’t it a pleasure learn from so many. The great privilege of writing this blog is the opportunity it gives me to learn from so many. People change us most. 🙂
Well one thing I got to say is how much a appreciate you allowing different opinions to be shared!
I mean whew….I am a recovering person, a Deist, a Libertarian and a Paradigm Shifter…….Oh yeah a Why Enthusiast!! Hehe
We all divide up into like minded groups not sure how many plates of food we would need to feed the herd!!!
It is just nice to be able to be allowed to share from my perspective and maybe it could be helpful for some folk to see what the world looks like from a perspective different from theirs?
If everybody was the same it would get awfully boring awfully fast.
Just appreciate allowing me to share from a different perspective than most.
Good afternoon Dan
Integrity defines who we are, not what we do, nor what our critics say we are. Integrity is not our ‘Secret Weapon’ we only pull out for special circumstances it’s who we are and how we treat those around us everyday. We don’t get to choose. Integrity is speaking and acting in truth while tempering our words and deeds with kindness. It often takes courage to speak the truth, for truth comes in all shapes and sizes from the good, the bad,and the ugly, we cannot change the truth. I can’t recall where I heard this long ago but it refers to Integrity and has stuck with me for a long time. “Integrity is doing what we said we were going to do long after the mood we said it in has gone”. Integrity is not something we apply only to special circumstances or extend to special people. A persons true self, their humility, their level of caring for their fellow man, and yesn Integrity can often be summed up in my favorite quote. “The true character of a person can be seen by the way they treat those who can do nothing for them”. We don’t get to pick and choose when to act and speak with integrity. Integrity is the sum all things that make us who we are. ‘You either got it, or you don’t’!
Thanks SGT. I gt the feeling of the freedom of integrity as I read your comment, the freedom of living in alignment with our true self.
As I wrote this post, I thought about the life long journey of giving our true self in service. It certainly “helps” if we have some idea of what that true self is… I feel it’s both something we are and something we pursue at the same time.
This is good. I think I’m often too hard on myself for not staying focused enough on doing the “big” things but I should give myself more credit for the many times I’ve stood up to whatever establishment and said “This is wrong, we should not be doing this. This should not be who we are.” In many ways, I hope that is my legacy in all aspects of my life more than almost anything.
Thanks James. Hats off to you for your transparency and candor. Apart from your personal journey, my favorite part of you comment is, “who we are.” The question finds application to organizations as well as individuals. Values are the official expression of who we are, organizationally.
Your blog post today reminded me of my Word. A while back you had a link to the book One Word. The word I chose was “integrity”. Thank you.
Thanks Robin. Thanks for sharing you word. You sure chose a big one.
Yes, I did choose a big one. I find I don’t fulfill my word sometimes, I love your blog, it has reminders. I am just starting a leadership role – fininshing my certification to be a school Superintendent. I find your blog to be a centering and remindful daily read. Thank you.
Congratulations on your achievements. I find I don’t fulfill my word every day either.
It’s a joy to share the journey with you. Best wishes.
You wrote, “Who you are is more important than what you do” – which I wholeheartedly agree with. I would also add what you do may often define who you are – especially when what you do demonstrates your true character.
Thanks Bill. So glad you brought your insights today. It’s impossible to know who we are without understanding the things we do. IN addition, the things we do have a formative impact on who we are. The statement about who is more important than what is about priority and importance.
I’ve been fascinated for years about the relationship between being and doing.
One important aspect of this conversation is finding our passion. Passion isn’t found by sitting under a tree. It emerges AS we do stuff. Someone searching for passion should get out and do things. There passion will find them or at least reveal itself to them.
Thanks for this, Dan.
Billy Graham’s work has been one of great influence through rallies, prayer, books, and private conversations like the one he had with Mr. Hyatt. That influence will survive even his very long life, through generations of people changed by the truth he communicated.
What I admire most of his work is his humility and complete commitment to the work to which he was called, the veracity of the Bible, and the lordship of his Savior. He was the chaplain to presidents, yet never vaunted that role.
Your first two questions, “Who am I?” and “Who do I aspire to be?” might well be answered by the sobering thought of writing the epitaph we want to see on our tombstone, the obituary we want to see in the newspaper, the epitaph we want to see on our spouse’s and childrens’ tombstones, and the Wikipedia article about our life that we think could actually exist the week after we die.
Graham’s quote is telling for a 92 year old, “The greatest surprise of my life is the brevity of life”. What is a life well lived? That is something each of us needs to consider. Will our lives have been purposeful? Will they have had meaning? For those of us who believe in a life after death, have we prepared for it? Will we be glad or embarrassed? Will those who follow us be better off having known and worked with us?
Today is the first day of the rest our life. The last day is not in our control, only the present – with its thoughts, decisions, and actions. Each of us has received much. What are we doing as stewards to make the Master’s investment count?
Thank you, Dan, for this post.
Thanks Marc. I continue enjoying your comments. I let my mind wander off topic while I read your thoughts. (Hope that’s not offensive)
I was thinking about the epitaph illustration. We think about legacy by asking, “How will I be remembered.”
I’m preparing a presentation on legacy. It’s caused me to add something to my vocabulary. I like the idea of “How will you be remembered. I also like challenging myself with the idea that legacy is how people think of me today.
Legacy is now. We cannot expect people in the future to think about us differently than people think of us today. There are some notable exceptions, explorers, artists, and scientists who were ahead of their time may not be appreciated until after they are dead.
However, I’ll continue including the idea that legacy is now as part of my vocabulary on this topic.
“Legacy is now”. Excellent thought.
Who we are and not what we are and be true to thyself. A legacy filled with integrity, honesty, honour, sincerity, humility etc. All the values that the world seems to have lost along the way. Being true to thyself. True leaders are committed to what they hold true to. A real leader will always be remembered not only today but forever. A humble caring and loving soul!
Hi Choong. Thanks for joining the conversation and best wishes on the journey. May we all live up to the noble qualities you listed.
So….the next step. A deep, honest look at where at where my “inside” doesn’t match up with what the “outside” is attempting to portray. This can be disconcerting and discouraging. But, we don’t have to beat ourselves up over and discrepancies we discover. As even Billy Graham would espouse….Grace Abounds!! But, if we’re open to receiving that grace, we also need to be ready and willing to move towards growth…to narrow that gap between our internal and external selves. Thanks Dan!!
Dan, I have spent 50 years being a follower of Billy Graham. He is one of my heroes because of who he was. He has such a remarkable legacy, leading with humility and integrity in a profession where many have fallen.
I couldn’t agree more about the ‘who’ in the equation of leadership. Too often I find people want to learn about the ‘skill’ of leadership (delegation, time management, project management, performance reviews, etc) when the ‘capacity’ to lead is far more important. And that capacity starts with our own awareness of who we are and why we are here. It branches into character development, the core of what we value, and ends up in the conduct (behavior) that we exhibit.
The other reason that the ‘who’ is more important than the ‘what’ is that leadership is about relationship, and out of that relationship comes our power to influence. Our ‘whoness’ is at its best when there is integration between our internal and external selves.
P.S. I smiled when I saw Billy’s quote, “The greatest surprise of my life is the brevity of life.” How ironic given how old he is. Great lesson.
Years ago, a boss helped us to develop role descriptions. This spoke to who we were in our roles beyond our job descriptions.
I enjoy your posts immensely. I really think that you live out this post, I say this because not only do I enjoy your Posts but your comments to all of us as much. I see it as the post as the reading of the script and the comment section the script being acted out, your part is acted out true to who you are here, in this edition.
Hope this makes sense.
As always thank you and have a great day ;o)