How Some Leaders Bankrupt Their Influence

My wife and I celebrated thirty-five years of marriage recently. I am very blessed by that milestone, blessed with a lovely wife, and committed to make my marriage even better going forward. I heard an illustration early in my life that has served not only my marriage well but has also strengthened me as a leader. A book I read when I was younger described the love that my wife and I had for one another as a bank. He called it a “love bank.” As you begin dating, you do nice things, say nice things, and overlook flaws in the person that you are courting. Every time you say something to build them up or perform some act of kindness, you are making deposits in the account of your relationship. The account can grow quickly as you make sacrifices and pour yourself into someone that you are beginning to love.

By contrast, if you hurt their feelings, forget a special occasion, get in a fight and lash out with hurtful words, you withdraw from that same account. If you do this to a great extent and the withdrawals exceed the words and deeds invested, the love is bankrupted and the relationship will suffer and ultimately fail. This can happen within two weeks or even after thirty-five years. My wife and I have a deep abiding love because the deposits and investments far exceed the mistakes and withdrawals that we  have made from that account (ie: our love bank).

What has that got to do with your leadership? The same principle applies your relationship to those who follow you. When you lead well, experience victories, help your followers to grow, give personal attention, attend to morale, and do things that strengthen your team, staff, congregation, or organization, you are making valuable deposits in your “leadership account.” By contrast, when you make lots of mistakes, ignore the climate where your followers serve, become hyper-critical, get lazy, lose your vision or passion; you make withdrawals from your leadership bank. This list of ways to deposit and withdraw is not intended to be exhaustive. It does explain why a long-tenured, well-loved leader can overcome smaller mistakes and losses. His or her investments over time far outweigh the withdrawals.

How about your leadership? Are you making investments in your leadership, your team, and your organization? Have you made mistakes lately that withdrew from your credibility or perceived competence? Be careful not to bankrupt your leadership by ignoring this principle. Understanding this concept has benefited my marriage and my leadership. What is the balance in your leadership account? It is important to have a handle on where you stand if you desire to “maximize your leadership.”