What does investing have to do with leadership?

I had a grandfather who was pretty serious about investing his money well.  He passed away many years ago, but I am still reaping the benefits of some of his financial decisions.  When I was a child, birthdays meant receiving a gold coin or a stock certificate.  Believe me, I would much rather have received a bike or toy at that age, but now I am so grateful for his investments.  My family’s lives have been changed because of them.

Not long ago, I had the opportunity to stand by my husband’s side as we hosted a dinner for potential investors in his own company.  These investors understood some of the same things that my grandfather did so many years ago.

You can’t expect a return from something you don’t invest in.

It makes sense, right?  You didn’t expect to get a huge check from the bank when your neighbor’s house sold.  It wasn’t something you invested in, so you had no right to expect a return.

So why, as leaders, do we expect to receive things from our teams when we aren’t investing in them?


We expect our teams to keep producing, day after day, week after week, without any feedback from us or encouragement about how they are doing.  We think “I’ll let them know if something goes wrong.  Until then, I don’t really need to reach out to them.”

We want our teams to be bought into our vision.  But the last time they heard the vision come out of our mouths was 6 months ago at our biannual meeting.

We get frustrated when our teams start becoming distant and harder to connect with.  But the last time we took the time to really talk to them about how they are doing was when their youngest child was born 2 years ago.

If you’re not continually investing in your people, you can only expect limited results from them.


Think about your team members like bank accounts.  You cannot continually withdraw from them and not expect them to eventually be depleted.

The only way to have a healthy team that is growing and effective is to pour more into them than you anticipate getting back out.


A funny thing happens when we do that.  When we pour continuously into our teams, they end up becoming more and producing more than we could ever imagine.

How have you been investing in your team lately?


7 thoughts on “What does investing have to do with leadership?”

  1. Dave says:

    The apostle Paul said, “Most gladly therefore will I spend and be spent on your behalf.” That’s the kind of investment you’re talking about. As leaders, are we willing to have our followers stand on our backs, to reach the fruit that we cannot?

    1. If leading was linear, probably not. I’m glad leading is about multiplication – when I allow a team member to advance, it also allows their whole circle of influence to advance, and they certainly have a different circle of influence than I do!

  2. GiGi Eats says:

    I invest in people who invest in themselves. If they’re not invested in themselves, then I see my investing in them as a poor investment that isn’t going to go anywhere.

    1. Gigi that is a natural response, and I agree that if someone is not interested in making themselves better, it can be a fruitless task to invest in them. BUT I also know that sometimes, as a leader, you see a person who needs to be invested in because no one else ever has. And because no one else has, they don’t know how to do it for themselves, either. That choice to invest in them can be life changing.

  3. Louisa says:

    This is a thought-provoking post. I feel as though managers/supervisors are always on their toes about spending company money on employees even when things like that are approved. Maybe there is a constant pressure from top management to curtail spending?

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    1. Louisa, you’re right – most companies don’t have a large budget for employee investment. It makes you wonder if they would have better cultures, better retention, and therefore a better business if they did! Until that happens, we have to find ways to invest in people without spending a lot of money on them. A note of encouragement, an interest in their family life, treating them with honor – all of those cost nothing or next to nothing, but go a long way toward building that investment.

  4. Valerie Robinson says:

    Great post! I think people value things more when they actually invest in them. To get something, you have to give something.

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