Forget the ROI—There Are More Important Things to Consider in Leadership

One of the most frustrating questions I get is when people ask me about the ROI on training human-centric leaders.

Fact: You’re not likely to get an immediate dollar-for-dollar return on human-centered leadership development.

Most of the people who immediately challenge me on ROI are not focused on long-term success and sustainability, but rather on what measurable results they can expect today, this month, this quarter.

We don’t need another study to prove that people work harder, perform at higher levels and produce more when they trust and respect their leaders and know their leaders care. Doing the right thing is the very definition of moral courage—especially when it’s not immediately expedient or profitable.

And worse, the cost of not doing the right thing can be devastating.

For a cold splash of reality regarding ROI, look at organizations that pay little or no attention to human-centric leadership. The infamous meltdown of Enron, more recent disasters on Wall Street, the ongoing trouble at Wells Fargo and the Volkswagen emissions fraud can all be traced to a vacuum of human-centric values and leadership.

At some point, you have to decide what type of leader––and what type of person—you’re going to be. Ask yourself:

  • Are you going to lead people to fulfill a positive and sustainable cause?
  • Will you bring true value to the world through your leadership?
  • How do you want to be thought of as a person?
  • How do you want to be remembered when you’re gone?
  • What type of organization do you want to lead?

Too often, these are lost in the race to maximize short-term profits and produce immediate ROI.

Every business must be profitable to survive. But history proves over and over that the leaders and organizations that value people first are the most successful and sustainable over time.

You enjoy ROI when you commit to the support and development of human-centric leaders––leaders who inspire, empower and guide people to their very best.

In other words, at some point, you have to just say, “Screw the ROI.” Cultivate human-centric leaders because these are the types of leaders you want in your organization—leaders who care about your people.

Let’s focus on being good people. Then and only then can we do our best work.

Jim Bouchard is an international corporate and conference speaker, leadership activist and founder of The Sensei Leader Movement.