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During a conversation with a couple of colleagues, the topic of investing for the future came up. It reminded me of when I was a child and had a piggy bank. I would put all of my extra change, or that I could find in the cracks of the couch, and drop it in the piggy bank. I’m sure that many of you might remember such a time with a little ceramic pig and the slot in his back. The idea behind it was for you to save money for some gift that you might want to by yourself in the future. The early lesson on investing for the future.

I’m not sure about you did with this principal of saving, or investing, however in my life investing was never a real priority. It seemed as though I would rather spend the money that I had in my pocket to buy what was in front of me. I guess I am what you might refer to an impulse buyer, excited about what is right now instead of saving and investing for the future. It is only after growing older and becoming more mature (insert a deep chuckle) that I realize the importance of setting money aside for emergencies, or investing long term for the future. I will have to admit, it is still pretty tough to keep my eyes on the future when shiny new things appear.

When it comes to leadership, the thought of investing for the future is an important characteristic that we should keep in the forefront of our mind. You might ask yourself what is it that a leader can do to invest in the future? The answers pretty simple, it is that we must invest in the team.

I remember one time when I was younger thinking that I needed wanted something badly. So I went home and turned over my piggy bank to open the little plug in the bottom of the bank to get all of the money that I had saved so I could purchase this thing that I desired. What I found out was that my investment plan did not provide any funds for my need. It seems as though I had failed to set aside anything for the future.

When it comes to being a leader, one of the things that we must do is invest in our team. We must take the time to invest in relationships, we must take the time to invest in discovering their hidden skills, or in their training. We must take the time to invest in them emotionally to find out how things are going outside of the realm of our job or the organization. We as leaders need to understand that we are in the people business.

Now when you initially read this, it might seem as though that we are only investing in our team so we might be able to use them in the future for our benefit. This is clearly where the analogy falls apart. The purpose of investing in our team has nothing to do with our future or with our needs for the future. The purpose of investing in each team member goes back to what make the team member successful. After all, that is the purpose of leadership, to help others reach their goals and be successful.

So, after the conversation with my colleagues, I began to think about how much I am investing in each of my team members. If someone was to stop and ask each of them how much I have invested in each of them, what would they say? Imagine what it would look like if you were to invest heavily in each of your team members. Not just a little bit of extra time here and there, but truly invest quality time, substantial energy, into each of your teammates. What if you had an investment plan for each team member.

The challenge this week is for you to check your investment portfolio. Look at each one of your team members and find out if you have been investing in them. If not, what has to happen for you to begin investing?