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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

09 Apr '09

Leadership Capital: Deposits and Withdrawals

Posted by T.J. Addington in Healthy leaders, leadership development
At any one time leaders have a finite amount of leadership capital in their wallet. Deposits are a whole lot better than withdrawals because when the wallet is empty it does not matter what position one has, no one is following anymore.

Deposits are made intentionally and withdrawals are usually made inadvertently.

On a personal level, leaders receive deposits when they are open and approachable, care about their staff, are consistent in their behavior, keep their promises, take ownership for their mistakes, are seen as accountable and want the very best for those who work under them.

Withdrawals come when leaders are unapproachable or defensive, do not encourage open dialogue, are not perceived to care about staff, don't keep their promises, blame others for failure, are inconsistent with their behavior or are seen as unaccountable.

Leaders who experience many withdrawals often do not even know it because they are not open enough to receive the feedback that would tip them off to those withdrawals. It often takes great courage for someone to speak the truth to them about behaviors that are causing them to lose leadership capital.

On an organizational level, leaders gain capital when they clarify ministry direction, empower staff to play to their strengths and use their gifting, resolve organizational or staff issues rather than ignore them, give others credit for success and take responsibility for failure, encourage and hold people accountable for ministry results.

They lose capital when they control rather than empower, don't deal with issues, are fuzzy about ministry direction and don't pay attention to results.

Because we often are blind to areas where we may tend to lose capital it is essential to have people who will give one feedback and who have permission to tell us when withdrawals are being made. I have people that I trust who are always free to tip me off when inadvertent withdrawals are taking place that I would not have recognized myself.

It is an interesting exercise to ask trusted colleagues what actions cause withdrawals and what actions cause deposits. You might be surprised by what you learn.

As noted in the previous blog, paying attention to what is going on around us is important to understanding where one stands with deposits and withdrawals.

There are times when a leader makes a conscious decision to address an issue that he or she knows will involve a withdrawal because it is not popular. Popularity is not the goal, respect is. But, in order to make a withdrawal one has to have capital in the bank. Too many withdrawals and not enough deposits will eventually erode the ability of a leader to lead.

Key decisions that require withdrawals need to be considered carefully. If there is not enough capital - and one knows that the decision will therefore be problematic, wise leaders wait until the capital is present. Timing is as important as the decision itself. Poor timing without enough capital will make it more difficult to move forward later.

Leaders who are intentional in building their leadership capital have the greatest opportunity to maneuver because there is a bank account of good will and trust. What is in your bank account?