The Leadership Blog

How to Make Smart People Investments

leadership professional growth team building training Dec 03, 2023

As 2023 winds down you might be checking to see how your investments did.  I recently read a NASDAQ article that the average American’s 401k is up 9.6 percent this year. Not bad but have you checked on the investments you’ve made in your people?

Gallup research shows 83 percent of organizations acknowledge the importance of developing leaders at all levels but nearly half, 42 percent of organizations, state they don’t have a framework for leadership development.

Your greatest investment as a leader will be in your people and that will become your legacy.

I think the number one investment you can make in your people is giving them your time and mentoring them.  I know what you might be thinking.  You’re BUSY and don’t have much time to spare.  I’m right there with you, but as leaders we can’t afford not to take the time to invest in our direct reports.  It can often be a very thankless job and I’ve gone long stretches without seeing results sometimes.  However, this week I saw a great ROI on the investment of my time in one of my senior staff and he actually THANKED me for believing in him and taking the time to help him see the bigger picture and challenging him to go to the next level.  My leader's heart grew THREE sizes that day.

I often like to see how for-profit leaders invest in their teams.  In 1978 a   successful chain of hardware stores called Handy Dan was being led by Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank but suddenly they were fired.  A year later they started Home Depot and as the company grew they paid their employees dividends on their stock which made 1,000 team members instant millionaires.  Now that’s an example of investing in your people literally.  It's great if you can make a financial investment in your team, but below you’ll find five people investments that won’t cost you a dime suggested by New York Times Bestselling Author John Maxwell.

  1. Empowerment-give your people authority and responsibility.  People need both.  Authority without responsibility is a broken compass and responsibility without authority is a weight.
  2. Accountability-we need to check in regularly on our team member’s progress.  This isn’t micromanaging.  It shows we care about them when we make the time to see how they’re doing and offer feedback on their projects and goals.
  3. Opportunities- when people face new challenges it allows them to expand their capacity and improve their problem solving skills and creativity.
  4. Community- creating a sense of community in your team will return great dividends to your organization.  You can do this through fun team building activities, service opportunities, attending conferences, and group book studies to name just a few.  I’ve taken our team to ropes courses, gone whitewater rafting, line dancing and taken chocolate making and painting classes to name a few of our more popular community building activities.  This is a great opportunity to be creative and connect with each other.
  5. Credit- John often says if the team wins, it’s because of them and if the team loses, it’s because of him.  Good leaders know most people are willing to work hard when they get the recognition for their efforts.

Be intentional about your relationships with your people and you’ll enjoy the best R-O-I a leader can get.