Making regular deposits into relationships is one of the most valuable investments a leader can make. In the world of banking, there are two types of transactions that can be made, a deposit and a withdrawal. The same is true for people transactions in leadership.
Financial deposits need to be made on a regular basis in order to pay the bills. For example, your paycheck is deposited on a regular basis. Your home’s mortgage or your rent payment is withdrawn from your account once a month. Without the regular deposits of your paycheck, the check will bounce.
People deposits require the same, regular prioritization. Relationships are bonds that exist between two people. The more deposits regularly made into them, the stronger the bond. The strongest leaders have the strongest bonds with their people.
Before we dive into what leaders can do to make regular deposits, let’s look at two types of leaders in this arena.
Transactional leaders make more withdrawals than deposits in relationships. They receive more than they give. Their account balance consistently runs low or is in the negative. They incur penalties for insufficient funds regularly. Transactional leaders rarely verify the available funds in “people accounts” before they make a withdrawal. These excessive withdrawals lead to a poor work culture and a disengaged work force.
Relational leaders make regular deposits in relationships so that when a withdrawal is necessary, they have the funds to cover it. These leaders are vulnerable enough to know they will fail their people at some point. That is why it is crucial for relational leaders to have money in the bank.
They understand that people are everything to the organization. The people are their number one priority. They seek a human connection that puts money in the bank.
Now…for the four ways leaders can make deposits in relationships:
1. Express Gratitude
I had a friend tell me one time that, “gratitude is never silent.” It must be spoken, written, or outwardly expressed in some fashion. Think about this. How often to do we express gratitude to those closest to us? The people we work with daily, the family we go home to nightly? If you are like me, probably not as much as I need to.
As humans, it is easy to take people for granted. In the world of busy schedules, commitments, and deadlines, regular gratitude can suffer. Whatever your style, a quick text, an in-person word of affirmation, or a handwritten note, get busy thanking. Regular gratitude puts money in the bank.
2. Love and Care
There is one simple question I ask in every Upward Evaluation I conduct on people I lead, “Does your leader love and care for you personally and professionally?” I firmly believe this is the greatest measuring stick in determining how well a leader is performing. A “no” or even a hesitant “yes” sends off alarm bells for concerns.
A leader who desires to lead well must love and care for the people they lead. What does this look like? Know their spouses name, follow up after they lost a family member, see if their sick child is feeling better, check in on them when they seem “off,” give them a gift for a special occasion, and always ask what you can do to help.
Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Loving and caring for those entrusted under your influence creates a healthy relational account balance.
3. Intentionally Act
Very rarely do you accidently put money in your bank. You have a very intentional process, you make arrangements for your paycheck to get from your employer into your personal checking account. It just doesn’t magically appear, there is a process behind it, an intentional one.
The people you lead feel intentionality. It doesn’t require a public declaration of intent, they simply feel it. It takes an ordinary act and creates an extraordinary connection. Intentional acts feel genuine and authentic. Both are necessary for a quality human connection. Intentionality builds up relational reserves.
4. Give Time
Time is the most valuable resource we have to give away. It is our most valuable resource because it is the most limited one we have. It is not infinite and can run out at any given time.
While it is our most limited, it is our most competed for. Project deadlines will always loom, but if we want to lead well, choose to invest time in others. People value your time given. It always takes time to make regular deposits, but there is no greater return.
This concept was something I was taught early in my leadership journey and I’m grateful for that. Confession time…it doesn’t come natural to me. I have to work really hard at it. Every inclination of my natural behaviors is to sit down with a task list and cross things off. It gives me shots of dopamine and brings me energy. People don’t always do that for me, it’s the way I’m wired.
I was in my late twenties when two people I was leading at the time spoke into me. They called me out because I used to walk in the office door every morning and go straight to my desk. In my world, I was focused on tackling the day. In theirs’ and everyone else’s world, I was perceived as impersonal or in a bad mood.
From that point forward, I chose to walk the hallways and connect with everyone before I sat down at my desk. Why? Because it is the easiest way to make regular deposits in relationships. They felt the difference, I felt the difference. My bank account drew interest on those small deposits.
So how about you? What is the balance of your people account? Are you making more deposits than withdrawals or visa versa? What is the one thing you can do today to start building up your relational account? Get to depositing…regularly.
Remember this…leaders making regular deposits will stand far above those who do not. Leaders who lean on withdrawals will be seen for exactly what they are, transactional.