LeadingSmart

Practical Stuff for Church Leaders

My World According to The West Wing

WestWing

Faith and I have been hooked on The West Wing for the last several weeks. I’ve been a fan of producer Aaron Sorkin since getting sucked into Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (during its’ ill-fated short-life in 2006-07), and ever since friends have tried to convince me that I would enjoy the seven seasons of The West Wing. However, it was Jason Miller who finally pushed me over the edge by leaving the first season in my office. Conniving young man, isn’t he.

We’ve since purchased the entire series on DVD (from a friendly Ebay’er in China who promises they aren’t bootlegged) and are half-way through watching season three.

The show is smart and witty—with quick dialogue and a deep exploration of scores of issues. It makes me think, laugh, cry (or at least get teary), get mad, get scared, and wonder a whole lot about the humans (yes, that’s what they are) running our country.

Some specific thoughts…

  • I identify my role at Granger most closely with Leo McGarry. He is the Chief of Staff and is really the filter for what makes it to the president’s desk. He is a man with power—but does not wield that power. He is a man who listens, but who isn’t afraid to make a decision.
  • The show makes me think about the importance of speaking truth to power. It is a risky venture to tell the most powerful man in the world the truth—when you know it will make him mad or contradict what he thinks. But there are risks worth taking. Far too many people resist speaking the truth to those in power.
  • We say at Granger occasionally, “We debate in private, sometimes with passion and volume, but when we leave the room we are united with one voice.” This is true of our Board—it is also true of our senior management team. I see this beautifully illustrated with the President’s senior staff.
  • I’ve talked about it before, but it’s so crucial to get the right people on the team, allow them to operate in their strengths, and believe the best when the tension mounts. Again, illustrated beautifully on this show.

I’ve got 4+ seasons to go, so this show may lose its’ luster for me (I’ve heard that happens in season five when Aaron Sorkin bowed out)…but so far The West Wing is a great entertainment outlet for me. But more than that, it is chocked full of lessons that I believe are making me a better leader.