I’ve been familiar with the idea of an investment from an early age. My grandfather was known for giving out gold coins or stock certificates for birthdays and Christmas in lieu of traditional gifts. I learned early on what it meant to own a few shares of Ford or Allied Chemical stock. I saw the benefits (those quarterly dividend checks for $18 were HUGE in the eyes of a 12 year old!), and I understood that my grandfather saw value in preparing his grandchildren for future rewards.
It wasn’t until I was an adult, however, that I started to understand what ROI meant. ROI stands for “return on investment”. It’s a business term that is used in many different contexts to help companies determine whether it’s “worth” putting time, energy, effort, or resources toward a specific goal. The higher the return, the better the investment.
The bottom line?
What you put in directly influences what you get back out.
What does this mean in the context of leadership?
It means you must be willing to invest in your team if you desire above-average results.
I lead an extraordinary team of volunteers. I only see these volunteers one day a week, not daily in an office setting. If I only text a volunteer once a month to determine their availability for the next month, I can expect a minimal return on that investment. That volunteer is not likely to become the most passionate, most loyal team member – because my level of investment in them has been very small.
Think about it – if I choose to go purchase 1/100 of a share of Google stock for $7.04, I can’t expect to become a millionaire from that investment! But if I invest more – let’s say I purchase 100 shares – I can expect a higher return.
Now suppose I identify a team member that I don’t know very well, and I ask them to lunch or coffee. I let them know that I simply want to get to know them, and learn about them as an individual. And a few days later, I send them a hand-written note to thank them for taking time out of their busy schedule to come meet with me. Will I see a difference in that person’s level of commitment and buy-in? Most likely, yes!
Are you frustrated with the level of commitment or excellence from your team?
Let me ask you this:
What are you willing to invest in your team?
Or maybe the first question should be:
What results do I want to see from my team?
Take an honest look at how you are investing in your team. Are you expecting a huge payout from a minimal contribution? It’s time to stop holding your team responsible for their outcomes, and start holding yourself responsible for how you’ve invested in them.