Many have said that you can tell what is most important to you by looking at your calendar and your checkbook. While most of us don’t write physical checks that often anymore, the principle is still true. We finance what is most important to us. We find a way to allocate resources towards what we deem essential. This is true with money we steward and spend on behalf of organizations we lead and money from our own financial accounts.
In my experience, here are five expensive leadership decisions that are worth more than they cost you financially.
1. Investments in your marriage and kids
You aren’t a healthy leader if the people closest to you are starved for attention and care. Lead at home first. Leading and loving your family is more important than leading and loving in the realm of your career. Date nights with your spouse, fun adventures with your kids, and experiences with your family don’t always have to cost a lot of money, but there tends to be some cost. And it is always worth it. The memories, the trust built, and the quality time that naturally occurs in the context of quantity of time are overwhelmingly more valuable than the cost.
It is costly to be generous. You are giving money away that you could be using on yourself, disadvantaging yourself for the sake of others, and giving money toward your church or toward a ministry endeavor instead of something else. It is always worth it. According to Jesus, being generous directs the affection of your heart because “where your treasure is, there your heart will be.” Many think, “I will be generous when my heart is in it,” but Jesus taught the opposite—that your heart follows where you put your treasure. As you are generous, God grows you and matures you, which is worth more than what you could have bought. It is costly to be generous, but it is more costly not to be.
3. Wise counsel
Proverbs is filled with pithy statements about the value of wisdom, such as: “…get wisdom. And whatever else you get, get understanding. Cherish her, and she will exalt you; if you embrace her, she will honor you” (Proverbs 4:7-8). As an example, I have paid money for coaching that has guided me through decisions that have borne fruit worth much more than the cost of the counsel. Spending money and time on a book, a therapist, an executive coach, a consultant, or some other means to pull wisdom into your life and leadership is worth it.
4. Developing leaders
Money you spend, both personally and professionally, developing leaders is money not merely spent, but money wisely invested. The return will be seen in the leader and in the organization the leader serves now and in the future.
5. A seasoned leader on your team
You will likely see this scenario played out many times in your leadership. The salary it will take to hire a seasoned leader you really want on your team is more than you have budgeted. The leader is not merely seasoned in experience but is a match in conviction, culture, chemistry, capacity (and whatever other Cs you use to evaluate leaders). Sometimes you pass on the leader, but the vast majority of the time, the people who have found the resources to hire the leader have told me, “It was so worth it. The person makes a 10x impact.” About creating margin for those types of leaders, Jim Collins once said, “Good companies hire ten people to do the work of ten people and pay them like ten people. Great companies hire five people to do the work of ten people and pay them like eight people.”
Some will recommend you NOT to spend on these and will inquire about the price or make comments about the cost. You will be tempted to pull back at times, and of course we should be wise in what we purchase and how we spend, but I have found the above are always worth it. Yes, money can be wasted on even good things, but assuming there is wisdom at work, the decision to invest in these is wise because the value is greater than the cost.