A Tale of Two Leaders: Which Are You?

More than twenty years ago, I had an experience with two very different leaders. Those experiences have dramatically shaped my own view of leadership. In the end, they represent two very different styles, leading to two very different results.

An Apple and an Orange, Side-by-Side - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/bluestocking, Image #3501504

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/[photographer]

One evening in 1988, my business partner and I had dinner with one of the most prominent pastors in America. He’s not so well known now, but at the time he was at the top of his game.

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His name was a household word. He had enjoyed a string of bestsellers and one of the largest viewing audience of any TV evangelist. We were there to talk about the prospect of publishing his next book.

He was his usual charming self at dinner. For about forty-five minutes he regaled us with stories of his children, his grandchildren, his new house, the growth of his ministry and influence, etc. Never once did he ask us about our lives, our families, or our business. We got the distinct sense that this was merely another speech, masquerading as a conversation.

Finally, he came up for air. Seeming a bit embarrassed that he had waxed on and on about himself, he said, “I’m sorry, enough about me …”

For a nano-second, we felt a spark of hope. It was quickly extinguished when—without taking a breath—he continued: “Let’s talk about my book.”

In the ten years I was in a business relationship with this author, I don’t recall him ever asking me a single question. At the end of our association, he didn’t know me any better than he did the first day we met.

Contrast this with another meeting I had in 1983. At the time, I was working for Word Books, a company that Thomas Nelson later acquired. I was an acquistions editor. My boss, Ernie Owen, was a master at author relations. He rightly believed that this was the cornerstone of any successful publishing program.

As part of my training, he sent me to Anchorage, Alaska to attend the Billy Graham Crusade. He thought it would be good for us to support Mr. Graham in this way since we were his exclusive publisher.

I was 28-years-old. I had never met anyone as famous as Mr. Graham, and I was nervous as I could possibly be. I spent the long plane ride from Dallas to Anchorage writing out a set of questions I intended to ask Mr. Graham when we met.

I arrived at the arena where Mr. Graham was scheduled to speak about an hour before the program was to begin. My palms were sweating. My mouth was dry. But I was eager to meet this great man of God, counting it an extraordinary privilege to meet such a living legend.

One of his aides ushered me back to the “Green Room”—the special preparation room where speakers wait until it is their turn to speak. When I walked into the room, Mr. Graham was the only one there. He immediately stood up, smiled, and extended his hand, “Hi, Michael, my name is Billy.” (As if I didn’t know.)

He invited me to sit down and visit with him. I pulled out my day planner with my list of questions. I never got to ask a single one.

Mr. Graham pummeled me with questions. He asked about my upbringing, my family, and my business. He asked me about my relationship with Christ.

These were not the questions of an interrogator but a friend. He laughed easily, and followed up every answer with another query—before I could turn the tables. He never took his eyes off me. He was totally present.

I left feeling known and validated. I was on cloud nine. In 20 minutes, he had an impact on me that would forever change the way I think about leadership. I remember thinking, If I am ever in a position of leadership, that’s the kind of person I want to be!

Two leaders. Two styles. Two very different outcomes. The first one is essentially washed up. He essentially has no influence today. Meanwhile, at age 92, Mr. Graham has left a legacy—not only in the lives of the millions he has touched, but in my heart. The legend lives on.

Questions: What kind of leader are you? Is it all about you or is it all about them? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://www.lawrencewilson.com/ Lawrence Wilson

    Leaders who depend on charisma always point others toward themselves.
    Leaders to aim to inspire always point to something beyond themselves.
    Great post, Michael.

    • http://www.tonyjalicea.com Tony Alicea

      Great point, Lawrence. I’ll echo that statement.

  • http://www.culturesmithconsulting.com cherylsmith

    Though I’ve never met Rev. Graham, I can say with all confidence that you possess that same sort of gracious hospitality. Your legacy lives on as well Mike.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Cheryl. You are incredibly kind to say that.

      • http://www.culturesmithconsulting.com cherylsmith

        But that’s the thing Mike. I’m not just being kind, I’m accurate. You consistently engage others masterfully, not only in person but certainly here on your blog, as well as on Twitter.

        • http://www.danieldecker.net Daniel Decker

          I’d agree with Cheryl. : ) On a side note… it’s amazing too how much more others are willing to give of themselves for a leader like Billy. I have some clients who lead like Billy, who will call me and just ask about me and my family or business. Not because they are just being nice but because they really seem to care. I’ll go the extra mile for those clients in a second because when I know they care about me… I’m more more invested in caring about them.

          • Gail

            As the old saying goes “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.’

          • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

            That is so true. I am the same way. In fact, my entire staff is that way. A little gratitude, humility, and genuine interest pays big dividends—not that you should give to get. But still …

        • Anonymous


          Michael, I met you over a year ago and was very impressed. Cheryl is correct – you were very engaging and authentic.

  • http://www.validleadership.com James Castellano

    My take on leadership is to serve first. I feel the closer I am with my people the better team we have. This requires getting to know them personally and professionally. What makes them tick? What makes them sick?

    The only way to learn this is to ask questions and be involved in the process. Helping them make the right decision goes much farther than giving them the right answer.

    Dr. Covey says it best, we cant be efficient with people, we must be effective and this takes time to accomplish. With people–fast is slow, and slow is fast.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I love your last sentence. So true!

    • http://passionsforthesoul.typepad.com/vicki Vicki Small

      Thanks for quoting Dr. Covey. I know one of the things that has tripped me up as a leader, especially, is the drive to be efficient; I can be so task-oriented that I fail utterly to focus on the person’s I’m with.

      Oh, this is all so good for me to be “hearing,” this morning!

    • Anonymous

      Jesus exemplified servant-leadership. We ought to aim to follow His example!

  • cj

    Thank you for the perspective! This is important to remember even in leading our families.

  • http://donaldryan.net DonRyan

    Thanks for confirming what I always thought, that Billy Graham was pure class. I remember reading his autobiography more than 10 years ago and thinking that this was a guy I would like to model my spirit after. Great story.

  • Anonymous

    incredible. I’m always in awe of conversations like that. more and more i want to ask better questions of people to get to know them better. Any time i walk away from a conversation where it’s more focused on me, i feel a little gross and need to take a shower:) thanks for the post!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Spence, you are such a great example of this to me. I always walk away from my encounters with you blessed and encouraged. You ask great questions!

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  • www.therextras.com

    A wonderful tale for the season, Michael. Thank you.

  • http://www.fearfultofearless.com Jeff Kusner

    i also echo cheryls comments, you’ve taken the time to reply to emails, tweets and posts on several occasions. great post! if more leaders were like that… less folks would feel like just another expendable asset.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Jeff. You are kind to say so.

  • haydee

    I like this. My friends know me very well. cos it’s all about me. Sad. Yea.

  • http://twitter.com/techsoda Mark Kola

    It is difficult to find leaders who are not “me” oriented in today’s world. I ask myself and others constantly what can I do to be a better leader. I usually answer myself with don’t be so selfish. Thanks for sharing this.

  • http://www.keithjennings.com Keith Jennings

    It seems being like the anonymous pastor takes no effort, whereas, being like Billy Graham is a discipline that demands deliberate practice.

    • http://bretmavrich.posterous.com/ Bret Mavrich

      Well maybe, but there are probably plenty of anonymous pastors who are like Billy Graham. And, like Mike pointed out, you can be the opposite of anonymous and still be extremely self focused.

      • http://www.keithjennings.com Keith Jennings

        Hi Bret,

        The “anonymous pastor” I was referring to was the name-withheld prominent pastor Mike is referring to in his post. I should have written, “…being like the anonymous pastor in Mike’s post takes no effort…” My point was that being a self-promoting jerk is easy. Being a fully present and engaged human being requires practice. And, I agree with you, prominence and fame aren’t predictors of a person’s ability to be focused and present.

        • http://bretmavrich.posterous.com/ Bret Mavrich

          Ah, I get it now. Thanks for taking a second to clarify. Let me ask you this: why do you think so many self-promoters have such an easy time selling books and getting to the top? It seems like it’s such a repulsive characteristic that it would work against them.

          • http://www.keithjennings.com Keith Jennings

            That’s a great great question, Bret. I’d be interested to hear Michael’s insights.

            As a marketing professional, my best guess is that there is a herd instinct in all of us that draws us toward the crowd (after all, we tend to give a majority the benefit of the doubt). Also, we’re mysteriously drawn to beautiful and confident individuals regardless whether they add up. As a Christian, my best guess is that this has to be the result of some sort of spiritual warfare thing meant to distract, discourage and derail the Billy Grahams in the world. The Screwtape question underlying this would be, “Why work so hard in perpetual obscurity being real, when you can take the road that’s easy AND successful?”

            Where have you landed with your question, Bret?

          • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

            I personally don’t think self-promotion works well for long. What does work is when an author believes in his message enough to talk about it. That’s a very different thing. I could give examples of each, but probably not without embarrassing those involved. ;-)

          • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org Jeff Goins

            I’d love to see that as a future blog post (maybe you could mention the authors anonymously), answering the question: “How do you steward your platform well?”

          • http://bretmavrich.posterous.com/ Bret Mavrich

            (This Disqus thread somehow got separated from the original post. Weird.)

            Well, I’m working from a framework that says promotion comes from God, whether it’s Joseph, Pharaoh, Billy Graham, Pilate, or Hitler. God is the one who “raises people up” to positions of stature or fame. But that still doesn’t explain why people follow egomaniacs.

            But your answer gave some insight: is it good marketing? Megalomania is a pig that needs a lot of lipstick, but maybe some spiritual smoke-n-mirrors are in play as well.

  • Tami Heim

    Wonderful story – remarkable man.
    Thanks for sharing and connecting us to what is possible in our own lives when we give the gift of sincere interest and an undivided heart to others.
    Good stuff.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Tami. You are a great example of the kind of humility and servant-leadership that Billy Graham embodies. I am so grateful for your example.

  • Lissa

    Thanks for sharing your experience. It confirms my utmost respect for Mr. Graham. His life has been one of true Christian character–love. I believe that is our mission on earth, to reflect His love, whether we are in leadership or a follower. Thanks again for sharing.

  • Mark McKeen

    Leadership is people oriented. If people aren’t following, then you are not a leader. That said, a leader MUST invest in their followers. Leaders have to care about their people. I find myself in tears when the people I lead go astray.

    Jesus is the best leader to follow. Over and over we read of his compassion for people.

  • http://twitter.com/MaryDeMuth Mary DeMuth

    I remember my first ICRS where I met with a good friend of mine who’s pretty well known in Christian publishing circles. He was so gracious and engaged. He spied another publishing phenomenon and said, “I want you to meet him.” So he introduced me to the superstar, said some very kind things about me, then waited for the man to engage with me. He did shake my hand, but looked above my head. He didn’t engage. Instead he half listened to my friend, but kept looking around for other more important people. He walked away without saying goodbye or nice to meet you.

    I made a little vow then that if I ever became “all that” (hahahaha), that I would engage everyone in the moment.

    In my first major writing conference, Randy Alcorn was the speaker. He spoke about fame being an avenue for service. The more “famous” you are, the more you have opportunity to serve. I have kept that advice tucked in my heart for seven years now.

    • Anonymous

      I loved meeting with you. You were gracious and engaged when I met you in Plano. Being “all that” is relative, isn’t it?

      • http://twitter.com/MaryDeMuth Mary DeMuth

        Very true. Jesus is all that, anyway!

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        Thank you. You are very kind to remember.

    • http://bretmavrich.posterous.com/ Bret Mavrich

      So true. The people I’ve seen that make the best use of a platform of some kind always understand that they are anointed for the sake of the people, not for the sake of their own ego.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Mary, I think we have all been on the receiving end of that kind of distraction. It makes you feel so small and insignificant. It is a good reminder to leave others feeling better about being them and reminded of the fact that God loves them.

    • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org Jeff Goins

      I love your attitude, Mary, and from my perspective, you’re doing a great job of living up to what you aspire to be (learning from some of the more negative experiences you’ve had in the past with writers, speakers, and people who are “all that”.)

  • http://www.marketing-pr-seo.com John S

    Great article and an interesting blog. Visiting for the first time, and reminded it’s just about a year ago we completed construction of our 100 foot tall church cross cell tower. here in Fl The project, with some small amount of public relations effort, earned newspaper and television stories around the world, from the Times of London to the NY Post and even a late night monologue joke.
    Importantly it all began with some out of the box thinking about ministry and outreach, both leadership qualities. Since then, I’ve heard from churches all over the country, and I’ve even added that to the marketing tools I offer churches to promote themselves, and our congregation and preschool have grown in spite of the downturn.

  • Tommylane

    That is a great story, Michael. Imagine how engaging and kind Jesus must have been to those around him. Billy Graham undoubtedly follows his example.

  • Jamie Chavez

    Great points — and the stories that illustrate them are perfect. Thanks for sharing! I think I’m sometimes guilty of talking too much; I’ll shut up now!

  • Anonymous

    Love this story. I think before we mature, we all have selfish tendencies. Been there and still work on this. We may get into leadership not to help people, but because we want to be somebody. If that is the case, we do more damage than good. God has to deal with our motives before we really become the “Billy Graham” of our domain.

    • http://bretmavrich.posterous.com/ Bret Mavrich

      Your comment reminded me of Brian Regan’s bit on the “me monster.” If you haven’t seen it…well, you gotta.


      • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org Jeff Goins

        Love that video. Hilarious and convicting at the same time. I’ve definitely been the “me monster” more times than I’d care to admit.

        • http://bretmavrich.posterous.com/ Bret Mavrich

          I’ve never been convicted by that video. I’ve been convicted of wasting time trying to find every single Brian Regan clip I can on YouTube though.

  • http://www.embracepositivepassion.com Georgiana

    Listening to others is of upmost importance. Learning about them, their lives, their families, their cultures creates a common bond and a sense of familiarity. These kind of leaders strengthen their team by building and encouraging relationships and bonds of collaboration. By taking a genuine interest in what others have to say and how they feel about something shows that we really do care and therefore leaders earn respect and honor from their peers. :-)

  • Pat Layton

    I know that it was not your intent but this post actually brought tears to my eyes.
    I have been a ministry leader for close to 25 years and I am certain I have failed this test many times. As I read your post, my mind began a back-real of years filled with opportunities to be a Billy Graham kind of leader, sadly knowing that I have often been blindly absorbed by my own successes or struggles .
    All I can do is pray that I have many more opportunities coming my way. I want whatever time I have left to look more like whichever of those fruits is the GOOD one :)
    I have copied this post and will read it often to remind me how much this matters.
    My greatest desire is to FINISH WELL.
    Thank you for another challenging but inspiring post.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Pat, you are not alone. I have had countless conversations where I was totally absorbed with myself. Thankfully, we serve a God of grace. Every day—every conversations—is an opportunity to put others ahead of ourselves.

    • Andy

      I know exactly what you mean… exactly what you mean.

  • http://bladeronner.com Ron Dawson

    A very inspiring story. I like to hope I’m like the latter, but I think sometimes I can be like the former.

    A leader I know who inspires me and the people around him is the CEO of one of my clients. He is a paragon of servant leadership. He’s authentic, charismatic, gives credit where it’s due, gets his “hands dirty,” and instills a level of loyalty among the employees that company has never seen. In the 1.5 years since he took over, the company is literally night and day. His employees cheer for him, but he deflects the praise with humility and a self-effacing attitude. I know him to be a believer, but he doesn’t wear his faith on his sleeve, yet, you KNOW there’s something different about him.

    As Christ himself showed us, good leaders leave lasting impacts, long after they’re physically gone.

  • http://www.danieldecker.net Daniel Decker

    Powerful story and example. I think this signals an extremely important point. Just because someone has a platform or even some sense of perceived authority… it doesn’t make them a real leader. To me, one of the defining marks of a real leader is when their decisions are done more so for the good of those they serve than for their own benefit. That becomes evident by situations like you exampled above when the opportunity to see what they really care about shines through.

    I want live and lead like Billy. People matter and I want to treat them as if they do. It’s not about what they can do for me but what I can do for them or what we can do together. Too often people say all the right things but their motives tell another story.

  • Anonymous

    I was told once that a great leader is one who is willing to follow. That’s who I try to be, but definitely who I WANT to be.

  • http://www.womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com womenlivingwell

    Reminds me of Dale Carnegie’s “How To Win Friends and Influence People”. He says -it’s always important to let others do the talking. It’s tempting to fill a quiet moment with chatter about ourselves but we should fill those moments with questions that pull another person’s thoughts out. People want to be seen and heard.

    I am naturally chatty – so I have to work on this – but at the same time I am also naturally inquisitive and I love learning from others. I know a lot of secrets because people seem to feel comfortable telling those to me – I count it a privilege.

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      Courtney, I couldn’t agree with you more. Dale Carnegie’s book changed the way I look at life many years ago. I think everyone should read his classic work. I refer to parts of it at least once a year.

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        My dad actually paid me to read this book when I was in high school. It was life-changing.

    • Anonymous

      I struggle with “chattiness” too… I need to learn to ask questions and listen more!

      • http://www.womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com womenlivingwell

        Hey girl!!! Good to see you over here :-)!!!!!

        • Anonymous

          I’ve been meaning to come over here since somebody mentioned this blog at
          Relevant. So fun to get involved in the comments!

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  • http://twitter.com/bigwalnutfly Cory Zurcher

    It is amazing when a “leader” validates who you are and what an impact that has for a lifetime. I would encourage everyone to start in their own home with this type of leadership and then take it out into your world.

  • http://www.defineddesign.com Lisa Altizer

    I’m so thankful for technology, otherwise I would never have the privilege of watching you lead. I learn so much every week, thanks a bunch!

  • Anonymous

    I definitely try to be authentic and engaging as a leader. From your post, it seems that one man truly had God in his heart. What a difference that makes. I pray that all leaders are able to live life filled with the Spirit to the point of overflowing. I certainly pray that for myself.

  • http://passionsforthesoul.typepad.com/vicki Vicki Small

    Great examples of not only two different kinds of leaders, but of two different kinds of persons! The second so clearly reflects the love of Christ, flowing outward toward another; that is the kind of person I want to be, and I know I’m not always there.

    Decades ago, a dear friend, former college professor and one of the best Bible teachers I’ve ever heard, was teaching on I John. In trying to describe the love which we are commanded to show, he talked about his role as chaplain at a Christian college. I remember this one sentence so clearly: “Love says, ‘I see you, I hear you, I know you are there, and *all of me is fully present* here, with you!'”

    • http://www.defineddesign.com Lisa Altizer

      Vicki – what a powerful sentence – who said this?

      • http://passionsforthesoul.typepad.com/vicki Vicki Small

        Lisa, that sentence came from the Rev. Reuben R. Welch, former assistant professor and then chaplain at Pasadena College (a Nazarene school)–and then at Point Loma Nazarene University (when the school moved to San Diego). I believe that was included in his first book, We Really Do Need Each Other, that was the written version of his talks at a Layman’s Retreat, where I first heard the same material. All of his books are out of print, now, as far as I know, and it’s a shame; they are such a gold mine of Biblical truths and practical insights.

        His chaplain talks from the letter to the Hebrews also made it into print as When You Run Out of Fantastic…Persevere! Re-reading that after many years gave me the key to dealing with old, persistent shame–“Look to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith!”

        More than you asked for!

  • http://twitter.com/pastorbrett pastorbrett

    This is something I have been working on for about 10 years now and am ashamed to say I still have a long way to go. For those of us who are competitive I like to envision personal interaction as a competition to see who can make the other person talk the most. I don’t win near as much as I should, but this post reinvigorates my desire to go get some more victories! “Tell Me More” works really well.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think it’s nearly impossible apart from the grace of God.

      I like your little competition. This is probably a good way for many of us to train ourselves to be more other-centered. Thanks!

    • Anonymous

      I like that idea too. Just a few posts above I was thinking of jumping in and asking if anybody had an idea of how to train in this. I can’t tell you how many times I come away from a conversation realizing not only that I don’t know this person as much as I should now, but that I’m really not sure I understood as much as I want of what they were saying. This is a really tough area for me. Even when I ask them about themselves I find myself wondering if this person is impressed with how other-centered I’m being!

      Then I came across your suggestion. I’m going to try it next opportunity. And treat my attitude as a target for spiritual warfare…

  • http://twitter.com/doughibbard Doug Hibbard

    I saw something similar at, of all places, the Southern Baptist Convention last summer. I saw the Army Chief of Chaplains stop to thank the sheriff’s deputies working security for their service in law enforcement. Here’s a combat veteran Major General thanking someone else for their service?

    That made a bigger impression on me than anything else that week. I want to be like that. Well, maybe not an Army General, but seeing others, no matter who I am or what I’m doing.


  • http://twitter.com/matthewmacd Matthew MacDonald


    Thanks for sharing this. How true it is. Interesting how BIBLICAL it is as well. In the gospels, I don’t recall Jesus walking around with a copy of his CV. I mean, it would only have two words on it: “I am” ..but still. What a perfect picture of humility.

    Love your blog. Appreciate your ministry.

  • http://twitter.com/pastorbrett pastorbrett

    Something that helps me is to turn it into a competition (covert, of course; just a little game with yourself). See if you can get the other person to talk more than you do. If you ask the most questions and talk the least, you win. “Tell Me More” are three words that help secure a victory!

    Making this a habitual lifestyle is very hard. The world, the flesh, and the devil are all three seeking to get the agenda back on yourself. I really needed this reminder. Now I am reinvigorated to get out there and secure some more victories! Thanks Michael!

  • http://passionsforthesoul.typepad.com/vicki Vicki Small

    When I think of the people who have been totally present for me, I think of our current lead pastor and the President and CEO of the nonprofit for which I volunteer. The latter man leads a world-wide charitable ministry, with somewhere near a dozen funding-partner countries and more than 25 field-partner countries. He has met kings and presidents but looks more at home when he’s surrounded by children. I’ve met him several times, and he is always right there, whether for 30 seconds or, once, for 10 or 15 minutes.

    For me, the self-competing idea sounds like just another strategy. I think what sets apart men like Billy Graham and the men I’ve mentioned is that they are so deeply aware of being loved by Jesus Christ and so filled with with His love that they have become so like Him as to reflect His love to everyone they meet. It’s just become a “natural” flow.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That’s a great insight, Vicki. The first man was very insecure. Billy Graham knows he is loved and accepted by God. Therefore, he is able to pass on what he has received.

  • http://www.SensationalHome.com Jennie Norris

    As I read your blog post I was reminded about the old adage “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” and the topic most people want to talk about is themselves . . . well said. A leader must know to use the “holes” God gave them – 2 for listening and only 1 for talking so we should listen twice as much as we talk . . .

  • http://randyelrod.com Randy

    Great post, Mike.

    As our relationship grows, it is obvious to me this is more than a post, it is a lifestyle that you practice. Thanks. I vow to improve in this area.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Randy, you are a master at this yourself. You are one of the easiest people to be with that I have ever known. This is due in no small part to your ability to listen, ask questions, and engage.

  • TNeal

    Great comparison and excellent illustration. I’ve appreciated reading other people’s comments highlighting personal Billy-Graham-style leadership stories. I have a number of snapshots of leaders who exemplified humility and the ability to uplift others rather than themselves.

    While missionaries in the Russian Far East, my wife and I often hosted visiting stateside leadership. One of the most memorable moments was when our mission president grabbed a washcloth and towel and washed our dinner dishes. With that one act, Al won over our entire team. We loved him and had no problem following a great leader like that.

  • Jamesdshort

    Great observation and insight. I honestly think it all boils down to motives and pride. I have the following phrase on the end of my signature, “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care!”

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I first heard that quote from John Maxwell and was just quoting it to someone the other day. It is so true.

  • http://twitter.com/stabatt stabatt


    This is an excellent reminder of how we should interact with and especially value others as leaders. Even outside of our leadership roles, taking an approach like Rev. Graham and yourself may be more meaningful and impactful than we will ever know.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chaseth Chase Thompson

    Is Billy the apple or the orange?

    It’s amazing to me that at such a young age I was, and am able, to learn such profound facts and truths about life. Whether that has been through literature or personal experience. My only hope is that I can pay it forward.

    Thanks for this great post Mike.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chaseth Chase Thompson

    Is Billy the apple or the orange?

    It’s amazing to me that at such a young age I was, and am able, to learn such profound facts and truths about life. Whether that has been through literature or personal experience. My only hope is that I can pay it forward.

    Thanks for this great post Mike.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for sharing these stories. It’s a great reminder that as leaders we need to be others-centered.

    Paul encouraged this. I wonder if he wrote about it because it was a struggle he faced, like so many others do.

    I have to continually remind myself to stop focusing on myself and on others. I think it’s our human, fallen, nature to be so self-centered.

    My goal: to be more like the second story, and not like the first.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That’s really why I wrote about it. I need the reminder myself and wanted to etch it a little more deeply into my brain—and behavior!

  • Bob

    Leadership not anchored to the love of Christ becomes a self-serving agenda. What matters is faith expressing itself in love – your conversation with Billy Graham serving as a stunning example. BC

  • Melany Ethridge

    Those of use who have been privileged to work with Billy Graham — even in a small way — over the years can tell you that Mike is absolutely correct. Mr. Graham always treated everyone like this — from many of the famous people he met over the years, to servers in restaurants and stage crew and everyone in between. I can’t help think that in this way, as in so many others, he has modeled Christ for us. Thanks, Mike, for reminding us of our calling to be utterly present and tuned in with everyone we meet!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have heard this same testimony from those who worked with Billy Graham. He was—and is—a consistent witness.

  • Dan

    I recently had a gentleman tell me that he knew two people who were totally focused and present when he was talking with them – the mayor of his city and me – Dan. It reminded me of how important that is and also checked me in wondering if there have been those who did not feel that way about me. This particular gentleman is not someone I enjoy engaging with or being around but I do hope that I have learned the importance of focused attention.

    • http://bretmavrich.posterous.com/ Bret Mavrich

      That was the part that stuck out to me too about Mike’s description of Billy: his eyes never waved, he was completely present.

  • http://twitter.com/abbylive Abby Van Wormer

    Wow! What an awesome story.

  • Jennifer

    Thank you for sharing this. This was the second time in two days that I have read about an interview with Mr. Graham and what an amazing man he is. Glory to God!!

  • http://geoffreywebb.wordpress.com/ Geoff Webb

    It’s all about focus, isn’t it? It’s powerful whenever a person truly puts us first and actively listens to us – that power is only amplified when it’s a listening leader.

    Thanks for sharing this with us!

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S


    After reading your post completely, I was reminded of the following quote by ‘Dan Sullivan’ and Catherine Nomura’ —

    “Only a small percentage of people are continually successful over the long run. These outstanding few recognize that every success comes through the assistance of many other people – and they are continually grateful for this support. Conversely, many people whose success stops at some point are in that position because they have cut themselves off from everyone who has helped them. They view themselves as the sole source of their achievements. As they become more self-centered and isolated, they lose their creativity and ability to succeed. Continually acknowledge others’ contributions, and you will automatically create room in your mind and in the world for much greater success. You will be motivated to achieve even more for those who have helped you. Focus on appreciating and thanking others, and the conditions will always grow to support your increasing success.”

    And, your live examples prove the same. Throughout my work experience of about 10 years, I find my immediate bosses 100% task oriented and 0% relationship oriented. They never enquire about me or my personal interests. They are always worried about the deliverability of the projects/assignments. I understood that this is the fact of life and started taking it lightly. At the same time, this post is a good juncture for me to introspect myself and mend & refine my behavior with people.

    Thanks for your thought provoking message.
    Uma Maheswaran S

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That is a fabulous—and inspiring—paragraph. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  • http://www.justachick.com dedraherod

    Wonderful post, Michael. As I have heard through Tami and Lindsey, I am confident that you were truly driven by that meeting with Dr. Graham to become a truly present leader for your team. Thank you for setting the example and living it out loud.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your kind and encouraging words, Dedra. I feel like I am such a novice. Remembering Billy Graham’s example still inspires me.

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  • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com @kylelreed

    Love it.
    Not only does this say a ton about leadership, but being a 20 something this can also go into influence (which leadership is about) and impact. Hearing that about Billy Graham makes me respect him even more and that story and his influence goes past any decade any age gap and any demographic straight to the heart.

    I want to and practice being a leader that listens. Its very easy for me to want to talk about me because I am constantly thinking about me. What I have tried to do is start thinking about others first which then leads me to ask about them and listen abou them instead of talk about myself.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      One of the many things I have learned from one of my daughters is the importance of asking the second question. It’s easy to ask one, then reply. It really communicates interest and focus when you can ask the follow-up question. She is a master at it.

  • http://bretmavrich.posterous.com/ Bret Mavrich

    Mike, here’s a question for you:

    Are there symptoms to watch for in those you’re leading that indicate you’re straying from an engaging, people based style? I just feel the tension between caring about outcomes and caring about people and, while I know those two aren’t mutually exclusive, it can be difficult to maintain them both at the same time (I feel).

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Bret, I wish I had a really good answer to your very thoughtful question. I don’t. I will have to ponder that a bit. Perhaps someone else can jump in here with a suggestion.

    • http://dominiceidson.com/ Dominic Eidson


      I don’t think that caring about the outcome and caring about the people is mutually exclusive. I do think that caring about the people is the important part, and my experience has been that when you care about the people, the people end up caring about the outcome.

      As for what to watch for – a good friend of mine once told me that needing to use discernment is good, as it ensures that we involve God in the act, and having to continually use discernment, means that we are continually involving God. Over time I started being able to sense when I “flip” – I almost become a third-party observer to the conversation, and then I know that I’m on the wrong foot.

      I hope this helps in some form.

      • http://bretmavrich.posterous.com/ Bret Mavrich

        Dominic, that’s good: I like the idea of turning conversations with people into conversations with God. Kinda like praying without ceasing. I think you’re on to something.

  • Micah Green

    Wow. What a great story-and a much-needed reminder! Thank you !

  • http://www.kathink.blogspot.com Kathleen T. Jaeger

    This reminds me of: “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10: 39) And the laying down of our lives takes the simplest of acts: listening to another, being engaged in their story. Simple, not easy. Thanks for the encouragement and the reminder to be an eager listening ear for my children today. I also linked over to your Perfect Moment post and was very touched by that entry as well.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Kathleen. I appreciate your words of encouragement.

  • http://www.dominiceidson.com/blog/ Dominic Eidson

    One of my former managers at my current job taught me many valuable lessons in leadership. It is very much “all about them.”

    I hadn’t noticed the tag on your post until after I started writing this: It’s very much about the servant leadership.

    The response o this kind of leadership is incredible. When I later was put in a position of leadership over my peers, I was blown away by the respect and loyalty they exhibited toward me.

    It was very humbling.

  • http://twitter.com/PJLincoln Paul J. Lincoln

    Great post, Michael. It shows the difference between someone who was serving himself and another who was serving the Lord. It’s not about our glory. It’s all about His Glory.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Amen to that. It’s a simple choice, isn’t it?

  • http://twitter.com/wackywilliams PD Williams

    I am very new to this leadership thing becuse I have always shyed away from it, prefering to walk along side people but God has shown me he wants me some leadership roles & that I have some personalty qualtys that lend to me being a leader, I always try my best to ask questeons of others & lison ton to them becuse I really do want to know them, share in there hurts, uncertintys, fears, succsess, & joys, but I do tent to rattle on about myself alot also becuse I desire for them to know my hart as well, thank you so much for this post, it helps me to remeber to keep my hart in presepetive & work harder for me to know others.

  • Christine

    A beautiful story about Billy Graham, and about leadership. Thank you for sharing.

  • http://www.gospellab.com Gospel lab

    I liked the part where Billy Graham told you his name even though he probably already knew that you knew the great man he was and still is. It shows his humility in not riding the wave of his popularity.

    I always respect those Christian leaders who try to bring more attention to Jesus Christ and His name instead of drawing attention to their own names.

    I would rather lift up the cross more instead of my published book (if I had one).

  • http://twitter.com/ThatGuyKC K.C. Procter

    You got to meet Billy Graham? That is awesome!

    These examples remind me of John C. Maxwell’s book “Everyone Communicates. Few Connect.” and about the value of focusing on others.

    Thank you for sharing these stories and the reminder of where these men are now.

    • http://charlesjaymeyer.blogspot.com/ Charles Meyer

      Hmm…. I just might have to read that book by Maxwell

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    They say the average person only has one or two genuine friends in life that really know them well. A genuine friend asks questions and takes the time to dig beneath the pleasantries. When a leader takes on the qualities of a true friend, and really cares about others, they become a true leader. Thank you for sharing a great story and thanks for modeling true leadership.

  • http://charlesjaymeyer.blogspot.com/ Charles Meyer

    Leadership is so much about being a servant to those around you. Why do you think Jesus Christ was such a great leader. He didn’t come to talk about himself but to serve!

    My current manager is such a servant leader. He cares about us employees and is always finding a way to help us succeed.

  • http://www.dailyreflectionsforsingleparents.blogspot.com/ Scotidomeij

    I was the photographer for a singing group that sang at a Graham event in South Africa during apartheid. It was the first time an integrated event had ever happened in the soccer stadium. Beforehand, I met him at a reception. When we, not once did he look around to see if there was someone more important to talk to. He engaged me in conversation. I didn’t know that the press was to stay behind a certain line away from the stage. Since I was part of the singing group, I climbed the stage scaffolding to take pictures, including him. Each time I aimed my lens towards him, he smiled. I’ve never forgotten how gracious he was. Sadly, my camera and the film was stolen.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That is a great story. I am only sorry you lost your camera and, more importantly, your film. Thankfully, the memory is etched into your mind.

  • http://www.scottluck.net Scott Luck

    Michael…what a great story! My father-in-law met Mr. Graham and he said the same thing you did. Thanks for giving us such a clear contrast in leadership.

  • Anonymous

    What a great description of great leadership! It’s hard to be a leader if nobody likes you and/or wants to follow you!

    • http://bretmavrich.posterous.com/ Bret Mavrich

      A friend of mine (a great leader) has a saying: A leader without followers is just a guy going for a walk.

      • Anonymous

        So true!

  • Robert Wolgemuth

    As you have written, I was there at the first meeting you mentioned. It was all that…and a bag of chips. And I remember your telling me all about the meeting with Mr. Graham. I’ve known many of the people you have led over the years and know that they could say the same about you that you’ve said about Mr. Graham. Without specifically trying to, you’re leaving a profound legacy of godly leadership. Nothing in all the world is more important.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Robert, you are extremely kind to say this. Maybe your judgment is getting bad as ou age. ;-)

      Seriously, you were there in that first meeting. The sad thing was that every meeting was almost identical. Wow.

      Thanks for leading me so well early in career. As I told you recently, you were the best boss I ever had—and one of the dearest friends I have ever known.

  • Chris Foster

    One of my favorite John Maxwell quotes is, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”
    We should have the there you are outlook instead of here I am. If you have a, “There you are outlook” people buy into your legacy, if you have a, “here I am” outlook people only remember you as long as you occupy the spotlight, wich life has proven time and time again that legacy long outlives spotlight.

  • PA

    I see this self focused blindness on occasions, where image is critical, where church style and culture is never challenged, and where this person’s authority is never to be challenged. Some people really like this style and I don’t understand this at all? My problem is I get very cynical about it and I don’t want or like to be cynical.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think it takes a lot of effort not to become cynical. It is natural. I wrote about this very topic here.

  • http://alexspeaks.com Alex Humphrey

    Amazing how different people are.

    And how time has shown the proverbs to be true. The wise man and the fool are so different. And though the fool leads for a moment, the wise man’s actions cause him to lead for all time.

    That we can all be leaders who’s heart is like that of Billy Graham!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Amen to that. I think the foundation of his success has been his humility.

  • http://twitter.com/MattBeard Matt Beard

    I’ve just finished reading a book about Mr. Graham and conversations like yours seem to have been the norm throughout his ministry. Everyone feels privileged to speak with him but he seems to think it’s him that has the privilege. What if we looked at every conversation as a privilege?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That is a really great question, Matt. I think that choosing to be fascinated by person we are talking to leads to a lot of discovery and delight.

      • http://twitter.com/MattBeard Matt Beard

        I agree. I know personally that too often I see people as inconveniences.

  • http://www.gospelofkingdom.com Gregory Scott

    The first type of leadership is not sustainable because no matter how much charisma someone has it gets old even on the most patient of followers, but people never get tired of being loved. Great post, Michael.

  • http://www.1year2live.com Bruce Moore

    Your insights are too convicting! That’s not only true of Dr. Graham but of many of the people that have worked for him for years. His life is contagious.

  • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org Jeff Goins

    Mike, I had this same experience when I had coffee with you the other week. I walked away embarrassed that I didn’t take the opportunity ask you more questions and learn from you. I was humbled by the fact that you asked most of the questions, genuinely wanting to get to know me better.

    Great post, but thank you for exemplifying this type of leadership with your actions. You’re really living it. You’re a wonderful example for people like me who tend to talk too much and have more to learn than they do to teach.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you, Jeff. I went home and shared with Gail, my wife, about your ministry and how awesome I thought it was. You are doing great!

      • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org Jeff Goins


  • http://fireandhammer.blogspot.com Dennis

    Thanks for sharing these experiences. I know which leader I am most like and realize I need to actively change.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HNWSWL3CKQFKP3F4OEE5ABZXTY Burl

    As always, that was a great post! Billy Graham was one of the best leaders in my life time and you have hit on one of the secrets of his great success. Not only did he care about if you made it to heaven, but he cared about you personally. Thanks for sharing! (Side note, one of my close friends and a man who mentored me in my walk with Jesus was a missionary and is now a pastor in NJ, was saved at a Billy Graham Crusade. His mission does indeed live through those he touched.)

  • http://financesrestored.com Josh Lawson


    That’s exactly what happened that day at Rudy’s. I had a long list of questions for you, but instead our time was spent with you being that leader that you always wanted to become. Thanks for a great time.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Josh, I loved meeting you. It is obvious that God has his hand on you, and you have a great heart for him. You inspired me!

  • http://twitter.com/Juanbg Juan

    That is a great Question- Is it about ME or about THEM?
    Ego gets in middle of the conversation, it is very hard to keep it off. However great business leaders have developed the great habit of always looking at the other person in front of them as if they had a message in their chest “look at me, I want to be important, I want to be recognized, I want to be somebody”.

  • http://www.servintl.org Joseph Garcia

    Thanks for the post Michael. Investing in people leaves its mark and lasts far beyond our finite number of years on this earth. Your example of Rev. Graham will echo this. How can we do this if we are just talking about ourselves. People need those emotional deposits and it is our job as leaders to make them. Such a great reminder of a huge principle. Thanks again Michael.

  • Russell

    Awesome post, Michael!

  • Ron Smith

    Another great post. I would hope that I am a leader striving to know people. Not there yet, but working toward it.

  • Nora

    I love this story and the way you wrote it. There are so many lessons here.

  • Joe T.

    Hey Michael, I got a chance to hear you speak at Catalyst West this past year. I have been following your blog since, love your thoughts and more importantly letting your readers see who you are. This post is a good window into what has shaped you and also instructive. Thanks for consistently presenting your viewpoints with humility. Your blog has spoken into my life on a number of occasions.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Joe. I appreciate your kind words of encouragement.

  • http://upthesunbeam.blogspot.com/ Shaunie Friday

    I had a similar experience with two Christian singers in the early ’80’s when I was the manager of the recorded music department in what was then the largest Christian store in the nation. Both were at the pinnacle of their success and influence, each had a new album out that was selling great guns, and each was on a national tour bringing in huge crowds. One was smug and self-righteous and ungracious when I told her how much I enjoyed her album and how I loved to promote it to customers. The other made me feel like I was the only one in the room and she had all the time in the world–she seemed genuinely and humbly touched to hear that I loved her music and shecouldn’t express her appreciation warmly enough for my efforts to get her music to people. I came away from both meetings with totally different feelings about the authenticity of the music these women made. I don’t know whether that was a fair assessment, but it was an honest reaction. The way leaders or people in public positions treat the people who want to connect with them is just as important to their message as any other part of their work–it tells people whether you MEAN IT!

  • Anonymous

    I’ve finally read Covey’s 7 Habits. This post dovetails with one of the two that really affected me from that book: Seek first to understand (the other was the first habit regarding proactivity and center of influence–an idea I completely misunderstood prior to reading the book).

    I know one of the things that I like the most is to be known and understood, so it’s been a goal when visiting with anybody–client or friend–to assume the other person feels the same way. I try really hard to check that impulse to prep for my next statement and just hear and listen. Not always easy!

  • Porterfieldpam

    Dear Michael,over the years I’ve also learned that first conversations with leaders,should
    be their discovery of the person.As a writer and leader I want to get to know more people like oranges.


  • http://www.bencotten.net BenCotten

    Boy, this really convicts me. I tend to get so caught up in leading the church as an organization that I can easily forget to lead people. This is crazy because, really, people are the church.

    This post cuts me deep! Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/obihaive Joseph Sanchez

    Wow…Such a great post and so convicting. Thanks Mr. Hyatt!

  • http://twitter.com/JimMartin Jim Martin

    Michael, this is a great post. As I read the post, I thought about people who I have known, some of whom were like the first man and some who were like Billy Graham. I once had a lunch with a man who literally talked for a solid hour. My contribution to this conversation was “Hello, how was your day?” and then at the end I said, “I need to ask you to excuse me, I have an appointment at 1:00.

    The conversation was significant as I was determined (after that) that I would never do this to a person.

    Thanks so much for this post.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have had those kinds of meetings, too. It is amazing that some people have so little self-awareness.

  • Ginger

    Regrettably, for the greater part of my life, I have been the former example. It was not until I reached my late 30’s that I began to realize that not everyone needed to hear a story. I am 44 now. Think of all those things I could have learned if I had kept my mouth closed more.

    Wonderful post, Mr. Hyatt. Thanks for the reminder ;)

  • Anonymous

    Michael, you are getting into the cutting questions now ;).

    This is something that I am constantly working on to become more and more like Mr. Graham. While I am not there yet, I feel that I have made significant improvements this year.

    Making others the priority is one thing that I intend to work hard on this coming year.

    I will carry this blog story in my mind as I continue to improve. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  • Tracy

    This is a great post. It echos something larger

  • Fr. Wade Fahnestock

    I think leaders are like candles. Those who are drawn to the bright light are burned by the flame. Those who keep their eyes on the path find the candles illuminating their journey.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Beautiful analogy. Thank you!

  • http://www.carlestercrumpler.com/ Carlester T. Crumpler

    I had the great privilege of hosting Andy Stanley and his sons at a sporting event a few weeks ago and he is the same way! Michael, you articulated in your post exactly what I’ve been thinking, but couldn’t get down on paper. Great post!

  • http://www.liveonpurposecoach.com Dwright

    I believe that if we remember that “it’s all about them and not about us ” , we will build better relationships. I have learned so much more about others than I would have ever guessed simply by being interested in them. People are fascinating! Thanks for the reminder!!

  • Duane Prentice

    Great story and GREAT message. I definitely try to be the second type of leader. Showing genuine interest and care for others builds them up and in turn generates a trust and respect by them towards you. These are the building blocks to being a great leader, others feel comfortable, commited and loyal to you. Combine this with vision and the ability to set strategic and tactical plans with execution…., and the TEAM will be successful and God glorified.

  • http://twitter.com/john_gallagher john_gallagher

    Mike, I want to believe that I am the latter…I want to work to be the latter…Being aware of the difference in these 2 is very important. Thanks for this post.

  • http://www.idoinspire.com Jody Urquhart

    The first leader wasn’t really a leader. How can you lead people if you don’t listen or care what other people think?
    I love meeting authentic people who are engaging and interested in others. It’s true this blog has a really inclusive, authentic nature, that’s why i love reading it.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That’s a really good point. He was certainly a “leader” in name only. People had to follow him because of his position. But, as his position waned, so did his influence. Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/ronjenson Ron Jenson

    Great blog Michael. By the way, I have met Billy Graham and I agree with Cheryl below.

  • Nina

    A great leader discovers the strengths of others and helps bring those qualities out. To do this requires great listening skills.

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  • Bradford

    Thanks for the post! You can really tell when someone is interested in you getting to know them or when they are interested in getting to know you.

  • http://www.homestrong.net Dean

    That is a very useful bit of advise. I’ve seen that in my life as well, as many of the people I most respect are also the people who will look me in the eye and actually care when they ask, “How are you doing today?” Thanks for this reminder.

  • http://www.christopherscottblog.typepad.com/ Christopher Scott

    Wow, what a great story Michael.

    I really hope that I’m in the second category. In my heart I believe that I am, but it’s tough to objectively look at ourselves.

    In my book I write about a similar distinction between extroverts and introverts. Sometimes extroverts are not as good at “connecting” with people because they tend to talk more and listen less. To the contrary, introverts usually connect better with others because they listen more and talk less. Hence, allowing the other person to share his or her thoughts and feelings.

    Thanks for this inspiring post.

  • Anonymous

    I remember some 25 years ago we volunteered as worked the Chicago for Jesus rally in Grant Park, Chicago, Illinois. All of the big name Christian leaders were there to show forth their talents etc., My job for those three days was to get the next speaker, singer, groups, etc., ready in the wings 5-10 minutes before they were to go on next as the event was live TV. The names are somewhat of a blur today as to all of the groups that sang or shared during this event. But there were two individuals who stuck out like a cookie next to a carrot.

    One was a big name preacher from the Chicago area. The other was Bill Bright founder of Campus Crusade. The big time Chicago preacher sat in his Mercedes out in the parking lot. There parked close to the entrance to the back steps leading to the stage he waited for his time on stage. Three separate times I had to send a volunteer worker out his car in the rain to ask him to please come in now. Three times the volunteer came back saying he was told by the two bodyguards not to bother the Preacher again. Come out just before it was time for him to go on. Finally I had to sayif he did not come in right then he would be scrubbed. We would just move to the next person(s) into his slot. The volunteer didn’t want to go out to deliver the message. This mans bodyguards had really scared him previously. But he go out and in came the Chicago preacher visibly irritated that we had been bothering him. It was anything but a shepherds heart that we were feeling that day by this man. He went on and delivered his sickly sweet message and we could not believe it was the same man. Afterward he snubbed those standing about as he headed back to his waiting Mercedes driving quickly out of the parking lot. I was obviously not very impressed.

    Then there was Bill Bright. bill Bright who humbly allowed us to move a choir group in front of his assigned time slot. They had been scrubbed the night before due to circumstances beyond their control. Bill was sitting backstage quietly waiting with an O2 bottle available if he needed it. He had recently been diagnosed with the same disease that ended up taking his life almost 30 years later. But there he was the founder of a world wide ministry talking to anyone who came over to see him or get his autograph on their Bibles etc. He was simply there ministering to those about volunteering that day. Encouraging these people who were just trying to do the best job they could under some pretty foul weather conditions. I was amazed when he was called to the wings he came without fanfare or prodding. He was ready to share his heart and we who watched this leader of men were ready to listen. Differences in leadership were evident to all those behind the scenes that day even thought both came off well in front of the camera. But we knew who the true leader was that day. It was evident in the fruit we were allowed to taste and not in the presentation for others to see. I still remember both of their names but one stayed a small time preacher in Chicago and well we all know the story of Bill Bright and his ministry to millions.

    Did I mention that as a Sgt in the U.S. Marines I saw all forms of leadership. It was there also very evident to those who were forced to just follow certain leaders due to rank. This verses those few other true leaders like my Captain overseas. He always who took care of his men first and looked to his own comfort later. The type of leader whom we would follow anywhere and back again. Christ is such a leader.

  • http://3-18ministries.blogspot.com Tory Satter

    My wife and I have been on the mission field for 7 years. When we visit churches to share about our ministry we end up talking about ourselves and the ministry. People would want to know what was going on in our lives, family and ministry. That started to overflow into my relationships and conversations especially around the time we would share with churches. I have had to make a conscious effort to be a better questioner and listener! Thanks for the reminder and challenge!

  • Andrew Hawkins

    Fabulous article, Michael! Both my wife and I mentioned independently how moved we were reading it. Such a simple and powerful principle–listening to others and yet how rare!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thank you for your kind words. There is definitely a shortage on listening!

  • Dennis

    I just found your website so I’m a little late in adding to the discussion. Your insight reminds me of many conversations with both versions of the leaders you describe. The comments others have contributed are full of wisdom. But I admit that I kind of sympathize for the anonymous pastor. Not for who he is and not to excuse him, but shouldn’t we (the contemporary Christian culture) take some responsibility for creating leaders like him. “at the top of his game” and “washed up” are terms we use to describe professional athletes and movie stars –celebrities. I sense that the Billy Graham type does not set out to be a celebrity but a faithful pastor. Anonymous set out to be a celebrity and used the gospel for his own purpose. God creates leaders like Billy Graham, we create leaders like anonymous.

  • Todd

    Good post? Oh yeah. Challenging? You bet! I don”t think I have ever taken the time to read so many comments after a blog post as I did for this post. I may skim thru them, but this topic is pretty key. The proverbial statement of God giving us one mouth and two ears comes into sharper focus with this post/comments. I forwarded this to my four kids and new son-inlaw. I am sure I will be forwarding it on to others as well.
    Thanks for the challenging reminder Michael.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You are welcome. Thanks for taking time to read the post, the comments, and then leave a comment!

  • http://debomendoorhetbosch.blogspot.com/ André Bor

    Michael, thank you for this beautiful story. For a kind of shy person as I am, asking questions is always a way out to a good conversation. People feel important when they got a question about their lives. And it’s so easy to do.

    Happy new year.
    André Bor

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  • http://www.halfwaydownstairs.blogspot.com Emily

    Inspiring article. I plan to share it with my readers during my regular Friday linkage.

  • http://twitter.com/2020VisionBook Joshua Hood

    As usual, you make a great point. Being genuinely interested in other people is one of the biggest keys to connecting with them and becoming a great leader and influencer. Thank you for a valuable reminder!

    Joshua Hood

  • http://twitter.com/NewEnglandHiker Roy Wallen

    This is a great story about a great man who was greatly used by God. Perhaps he was so powerfully used because he was focused on others, not himself. This, I think, is the essence of servant leadership. Thanks for sharing the story.

  • Brian

    Thank you for the very helpful post! 

  • Gfrei

    Thanks homie, this is wonderfully helpful.

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  • Jacob Summers

    Awesome! Thanks for taking the example of a great man like Billy Graham. A world leader who exudes humility.

  • annepeterson

    I would have to say I spent a great deal of my life wrapped around me and my pain. I am becoming the 2nd type of leader and full of thankfulness that I still have time. Great post, Michael, as always.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Thanks for sharing your journey. And, yes, we still have time!

  • http://twitter.com/JimLewisCEO Jim Lewis

    I had a similar experience as yours with “Billy” when I drove a limo and had the opportunity to chauffeur  Peter Drucker to a conference 2.5 hours away. He was truly interested in me, and encouraged me through the loss of my business. Both great men and leaders!

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Wow!  What an awesome opportunity, Jim!

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  • Michelle

    Max Lucado is JUST like that. One of the most humble and personable people i know. Is more interested in the person he is talking to than himself.

  • Sandy

    My Grandmother lived to be 104 (1896-2000) and she loved loved loved Billy Graham!

  • Rob Chaput

    Wow – amazing story. I will carry this one with me to change the way I lead. Thanks for sharing!

  • Dorci

    Social media has become a breeding ground for narcissism, and the art of relationship is quickly fading. Reverend Graham got it right because he has the heart of Jesus and lives for Him, not the world or himself. Thanks for the reminder that in this age of pride, genuine humility still shines the brightest.

  • Mary Biz

    I was filled with awe just reading the words you’ve written about this Great man. Of course, it makes sense that anyone with a message to share would like to “know” the pulse of the individuals with whom they share. I think people in general, appreciate being understood, and that line of questioning tells them you” care.” I know I would like to be that kind of caring person. (In fact, I think I am that caring individual, yet I hesitate to ask questions which would help me to be wiser about those around me). But, in the course of my growing up, I was schooled to hold my tongue and mind my business. So here is my inquiry in response to your question: How does one learn to turn off that mind your own business mentality and, ask relevant, but not “prying” questions?It is an art I have yet to master.

  • Eileen Holtry

    This story is a great example of the difference between a transactional and a transformational leadership style.