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Leadership Listens

Recently, I read something that floored me. The producers of “Magnum P.I.” initially approached Porsche and asked if they would create a special sunroof for their upcoming TV show. They wanted to use the Porsche 928 and requested a custom stretched sunroof for aerial shots of Tom Selleck on the cliffs of Hawaii. Porsche responded with a note saying that they don’t cater to customers.

Undaunted, the producers found what they were looking for in the Ferrari 328 GTS. It was equipped with a targa roof that would disappear instantly with the release of two clasps. Reading this, some leadership lessons came to my mind.

The morale of the story:

1. May we never get so big that we don’t listen to those around us. Leadership is leading and listening. Porsche needed missed out on a decade of free airtime television and commercials when Selleck’s mustache, muscles and wheels raced into millions of hearts with the hit show. The car became iconic overnight.

2. Sometimes what is disappointing at first could be a permanent promotion. Tom Selleck next to a Porsche would be like Troy Aikman suiting up for the Redskins. Some things just go together and the Ferrari just looked right next to Tom Selleck.

3. Leadership makes the hard decisions but also requires flexibility. Jesus often would be en route to a town or city, but be re-routed to heal an individual. GPS is God’s Plan of Salvation. It has been said regarding leadership, “if we forget the who, we will forget the why.” Why do we do what we do? Who do we serve? If cars are to be built with drivers in mind and businesses to serve customers, we as Christians need to minister to others on a dime. We can change course without compromising our core values.

As communicators, many of us can speak in our sleep, but to be most effective, we need to learn the discipline of listening. We must be intentional about listening to Christ and those around us. In the mid 1990′s, while working in Washington, D.C., I witnessed the political demise of Rep. Tom Foley from the state of Washington. He was not only from the west, but his policies were way left! He was so busy serving at the U.S. Capitol on the east coast that he failed to listen to his constituents on the west coast and lost re-election. What made it even more dramatic wasn’t that he was a member of Congress, but he was Speaker of the House when he lost!

Having addressed audiences in both secular and spiritual platforms, it is easy for the stage to become seductive. Yes, the platform can get a message or product out, but it can also intoxicate the presenter to thinking they don’t need advice. Entitlement can creep in and kill. The Apostle Paul said to “forget the things behind and press on to the high calling of Christ.” Paul was saying that we should be thankful for the past victories, but also to put them behind and move onward. Success should be guideposts, not hitching posts. I once heard a coach implore his athletes to take their trophies and remove them from the public pedestal and place them in a private closet. To get to the next level, we have to remember to always prepare for the next victory and not rest on our laurels. Complacency and arrogance will hinder any maturation in your career or character.

We must learn from Porsche and politicians who were so busy producing from their platforms that they failed to remember their clients and customers. If we are too busy to listen, then we are undeserving to speak. 

Published on by Luke Frederick.