Leaders make tough business decisions every day that vary in importance and size.
Due to the Coronavirus, many leaders are being forced into making critical decisions with less time; one of those is, where to invest in order to be better-positioned as they emerge.
When the current economy is on shaky ground and the future is murky, the pressure is on for all leaders to choose wisely. After studying many great leaders, one thing is abundantly clear;Great leaders constantly invest in their most important assets.
There are two key terms in this concept; invest and asset. When someone invests, they put time or money into something, hoping that there will be returns greater than what was originally allocated. An asset is simply a valuable thing, person, or quality.
This means that leaders must put their resources (time, money, or effort) towards something they value. When resources are reduced, the residual capital must be deployed with strategic calculation in order to ensure the future of any team or business.
Great leaders keep this in mind when investing in one or all of the following assets:
Invest in People
One of the most popular sayings from C-suites across America has been, “our people are our most important asset.” With the massive influx of technology into the workplace, most organizational leaders don’t believe this to be true anymore. In fact, employees didn’t make the top 5 in a Korn Ferry Study.
However, elite company cultures like Southwest Airlines, Chick-fil-A, and Starbucks have been beating the drum of being in the “people business” for decades with phenomenal financial returns. Regardless of where you or your organization falls on this concept, the thoughtful commitment to people is at the center of every great leader.
A phenomenal example of this was demonstrated by Casey Crawford, CEO of Movement Mortgage when he delivered a message to his company this week. “We don't celebrate numbers, we celebrate the names attached to those numbers. People give the fight a reason.”
Not only is Casey and Movement Mortgage at the forefront of technology in their industry, but valuing and caring for people is at the center of why they do what they do.
If you believe people are your greatest asset, invest in them, even when times are tough. With many organizations being forced into furloughs, I am blown away at the commitment of companies who continue to make efforts to develop employees who aren’t currently on the payroll. This will ensure that these employees are both better prepared when they return and that they continue to feel like part of the team.
Invest in the Future
The best leaders have an ability to focus on the immediate, but never lose sight of the long- term. Since the only constant is change, investing in the future comes in one of two ways; acquiring it, or building it.
The examples of leaders who acquired the future are long; Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012 for $1B when almost everyone other than Gary Vaynerchuk thought it was a terrible idea; Microsoft acquired LinkedIn in 2016 against the consensus of tech writers; and, Salesforce invested $100M in Zoom well before their IPO.
While acquiring the future is great if you have the capital, leaders who invest in building the future are the ones I love. Building knows no size or geography; it just requires a group of people obsessed with innovation, solving problems, and a commitment to make it happen.
This can also include further investing and building out the "goose that lays the golden egg." Many organizations have a product or service that is already outstanding. So instead of building something brand new, they invest in making their one great thing 10X better. Thus making it even more valuable or easier for their clients or employees to use.
Invest in Yourself
Learning never stops. The moment leaders stop investing in themselves is the moment teams begin to go backward. Benjamin Franklin famously said, "An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." When it comes to investing, nothing will pay off more than educating yourself. There is a reason why the old leadership adage “you can’t give what you don’t have yourself” is true.
Not only will your continued investment in yourself pay off, but those you get the opportunity to lead will take note. It won't take long for you to see them adopt your habits in their own learning journey.
A few of my favorite ways to invest in yourself include:
- Surrounding yourself with the right people
- Reading or listening to content that helps you develop
- Taking online courses or attending seminars
- Creating content to help others (can’t share what you don’t have)
As Peter Drucker famously said, management is doing things right, leadership is doing the right things. Great leaders do the right things by investing in their most important assets so their team is better positioned to be successful.
Instead of blindly making investments during this time, evaluate what your most important assets are and then come up with a strategy to invest properly in them.