David Ash
Book Review - Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham

The Leadership Secrets of Billy GrahamThe Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham
by Harold Myra & Marshall Shelley

A behind-the-scenes analysis of 21 essential leadership principles from the life of Billy Graham. Billy Graham looms large as one of the twentieth century's most influential and innovative leaders. Most people are unaware of his remarkable effectiveness as not only preacher and pastor, but as a CEO and a global leader as well.

The Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham is full of transferable applications for leaders in the church, parachurch, academia, government, and business. Lively interviews with his closest associates illustrate 21 principles that have driven six decades of visionary impact.

First-hand accounts reveal stories of courageous leadership and growth through painful lessons. Graham's relentless application of core beliefs and leadership principles have resulted in, among many honors, being listed in Gallup's ten "most admired men" thirty times, more than anyone else. Time magazine named him one of the top ten leaders of the twentieth century.

This book asks: How did this happen? What are the essentials he embraced to achieve such extraordinary results? What can we learn from him and apply to our own leadership roles?

This book is dedicated to those readers who sense the pressing need in today's world for inspired leadership. Who rise to leadership's high calling and are willing to carry its weight. Who are determined to deepen and expand their capacities and effectiveness.

I teach a leadership course and tell my students I will read and review the business or leadership books they recommend. I was skeptical at first, most attempts to create Bible oriented business books fail. However, in this case the authors chose to use Good to Great, one of the best business books of the decade, as a primary focusing lens and there is a single Bible verse at the end of each chapter.

The story begins with the observation leaders are often forged in the furnace of life. Billy got off easy this once. His furnace experience was being rejected for marriage by Emily, saying "I just don't see any real purpose in your life yet." The statement stung and after months of consideration, Billy decided to be fully committed to God. The story then moves to Theodore Roosevelt, who was also pursing his life's true love. He got the girl, but only for three years, soon after his father passed away, his mother and wife died at his home within hours of one another.

Billy's calling as an evangelist was tested, he was offered movie contracts, even a million dollars a year, ( this is the 1950s, so that would be more like 6 million today using the Consumer Price Index).

The book pours you through history, not just Billy's experiences, but those of his friends. Billy had to face the growth pains of the nation, trying to serve both Catholics and Protestants in divided cities like New York and Boston. They discuss the civil rights movement where he was pressured to hold segregated meetings; he did not. I am not overly emotional, but I cried during many of the historical passages as I remember this nation's history, the author's tell the story well.

He was friend to Presidents and others in power including friends that fell including Nixon and evangelist Jim Bakker. He gave Nixon's Eulogy and conducted the memorial service for the Oklahoma City Bombing and the National Cathedral service for the 9/11.

The book does a great job of covering his management style; he built a great team and gave them a lot of freedom to act. If there is one place a bit more depth would have helped, it would have been more information on his health struggles, how did Billy Graham balance life and mission.

The bottom line, this is a good book whether or not you believe in the Christian faith. It deserves at least two readings, there are so many illustrations and nuggets it is impossible to get them all the first time through.

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You can buy a copy on amazon.

Watch Billy Graham investigating the question: Who Is Jesus?