Want to Lead Up?

Last week I had the chance to read Joel Mayward’s new book Leading Up, published by The Youth Cartel. The title immediately got my attention because “Leading Up” has been a major focus of our Sticky Faith work. We’ve found that as we present our research, leaders fairly quickly understand what needs to change. The bigger—and harder—question is how do we bring about those changes? How do we help our supervisors understand and embrace the new direction we think God wants us to head? Those how questions have been such a focus of our dialogues with churches and our Sticky Faith Cohort conversations that we’ve developed an online, video-driven Making Changes Stick Toolkit to help you and your team wisely navigate change.

In Joel’s fictive novel about a middle school pastor named Logan, “leading up” is defined as “the ability to influence others beyond one’s age, experience or job description. It is leading leaders, even leaders who are also leading you”.

One of my favorite themes in Leading Up was the priority of depositing into others’ relational bank accounts. As Joel writes,

The sad truth is that while the church praises relationships, many of the relationships between church leaders are shallow or nonexistent. Many are marked by mistrust, hurt, or a sense of competition. That is why relational equity is so vital to a healthy team.


Picture all of the relationships you have as a leader within the church…Imagine that each of these relationships is a bank account. You can make deposits into this account through a variety of ways: through a variety of ways, including quality time spent together, words of encouragement and affirmation, acts of service and gifts, and even a supportive physical touch.

As I read Joe’s book, some important questions came to my own mind that might help you as you try to lead up:

  1. As you think about the various relational accounts that surround you, which are most important?

  2. Which have the lowest balance and are in danger of slipping into negative territory?

  3. Given your answers to #1 and #2, which relational accounts should you invest in?

  4. What can you do in the next two weeks to make a meaningful deposit into those accounts?