Creative Leadership

What I Learned From Jack Graham About Leadership

Whenever I think of “leadership” I think of Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Church in Dallas, Texas. While I’ve had the incredible opportunity to work with Jack and his PowerPoint Media Ministry team for many years, when it comes to leadership, there’s one memory of Jack that I will never forget:

Years ago, there was a crisis at the church. It involved a new staff member, and it was serious. So serious, that a press conference had to be called, and the local police were conducting an investigation. The issue had nothing to do with the church, but since it was a new staff member, the church was obviously pulled into the news reports.

When it happened, Jack was speaking at a conference in Israel, and after being notified, he took the first flight back home from Tel Aviv. I was asked to come img_2790in to help Jack and his leadership team craft a strategy for responding. So I flew in and landed a few hours before Jack arrived from overseas.  Once he arrived at DFW Airport, he immediately drove to the church – no shower or change of clothes. And when he arrived the press was all assembled.

But before he spoke to the press, he first spoke to the entire church staff – and this moment is what I’ll never forget.  The staff had been waiting – obviously nervous and unsure of what would happen next. After all, the press was outside ready to pounce.  But when Jack walked into the room, you could actually see and hear a sigh of relief from everyone on the team. It was palpable and it was significant. It was as if those employees all felt: “OK. Now Jack’s here. Everything is going to be alright.”

I will never forget that moment.

As I looked at the response from those employees, I thought, I want to be that kind of leader.  I want to inspire such confidence in my team that they feel that as long as I’m there, everything will work out. Jack had led that church through challenges before.  They had seen him in action, they’d seen his composure, and they trusted his judgement.

And it did work out.  We responded in a way that averted a crisis, and Prestonwood continues to make a positive impact in the Dallas area – and across the country.

Leaders don’t have to know everything, but they need to inspire confidence. When that happens, your team has confidence, and that means you can overcome any obstacle in your way.

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  1. Thanks for reminding us of the need to lead by making the team feel safe. However I am sure this did not happen overnight or just because of his charisma. I expect it took time and experience with his team that resulted in them feeling this way about him. He had proven himself and shown integrity during other difficult times that inspired the team.

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