Is it an Expense or an Investment?

There’s a distinct difference between an expense and an investment. 

One of the characteristics of the truly successful teams and individuals I’ve worked with is they not only clearly understand the difference between an expense and an investment but they behave accordingly. 

When leaders think only in terms of expenses, they tend to have a limited view of what might help move the needle for the team or even for their own growth. They think of the cost of a facilitated retreat or the amount of time it will take to hold a quarterly strategy session. They independently consider the cost of 1:1 coaching, calculating it on an hourly basis. They fail to take into account how much time they’re wasting on non-return-on-investment activities.  It’s dollars-based and time-based rather than focusing on outcomes. 

Outcome-focused thinking is what changes behavior and truly advances the team growth and individual leadership development. When we think of how we are investing our time and resources instead, it opens up our understanding of the utility of the investment, not just the tangible cost of it. 

For example, one of my clients leads a major department for one of the largest cities in their state. His team is tasked with some truly significant responsibilities. Their work is highly visible, often political, and busy year-round. If he were to operate from a pure cost perspective when considering leadership development or team advancement opportunities, he would only think of the dollars that would need to be spent from the budget or the time that would be taken away from the day-to-day operations and tasks the team is responsible for. Instead, he and I have partnered for over a year on a series of team retreats and coaching opportunities for his team members. He knows the value of expert facilitation and 1:1 support, and he’s seeing it pay dividends in terms of performance and execution of goals.

Same goes for me. I invest a significant amount in monthly coaching for myself. If I think of it only on its own in terms of dollars, yikes! That could be a mortgage! I could be putting this in savings instead! I could be using that time for other tasks on my to-do list! But when I consider the outcomes that this coaching is helping me achieve, it becomes an investment I am more than happy to make. It’s an investment I clearly see the benefits from and can tie back directly to the time and resources I am giving to it. 

Next time you’re considering support for yourself or for your team in the workplace, focus on the outcomes that investment is likely to bring. Yes, there’s an expense in terms of money and time, but with a proper investment, there’s a much greater return on that investment. It will pay dividends for you and for your organization. 

- Nicole

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