John (Intro): I have been on a quest to learn everything I can about leadership obsessed with what makes the best leaders so good. After running companies small and large for the last 20 years, today I speak on stages all across the world to audiences who are interested in that same question. My name is John Laurito and I’m your host. I invite you to join me on this journey as we explore this topic: What makes the best leaders so good? Welcome to Tomorrow’s Leader.
John: All right, welcome to today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader, where we dive deep on all things leader related, related to leading yourself and leading others. I’m John Laurito, your host here just before New Year’s going into 2021. I know everybody is feeling great, positive, optimistic about 2021 because 2020 was like no year ever in history. Unbelievable. So I am now taping this on December 30th, the day before New Year’s Eve, as I think about what 2021 is going to bring, it is going to be a fantastic year. So mark my words, this is going to be your best year. My best year. All of our best years ever. Because we deserve it, yes, we deserve it. We absolutely do. So in all seriousness, I hope you have had a great holiday. I certainly have. And I actually reflect on 2020. And it has been strangely a fantastic year. I know many of you that I talked to feel the same thing, that 2020 kind of pushed you in different directions. You would have gone before. And because of that, you did things that you never would have been doing before and accomplished things you would have been able to do before. So most importantly, I hope you and your family have stayed healthy and safe and continue to.
John: But let’s talk today about a topic that I think is really important as you as leaders of whatever organization you are leading or just leading yourself. I want to talk about the seven people you want to stay absolutely clear of as you build your organizations or build your life around you and surround yourself with great people. These are seven people that I have learned over time in leading many, many organizations. Over 23 years, I have learned these people tend to squash any kind of huge potential you have. They are cancerous. They ultimately will kill your organization if you have them in your organization for too long. So without any further ado, let’s go through this list. We got seven of them.
John: The first type of person you have to avoid and make sure is not part of your organization is what I call the Problem Magnets. OK, this is the person that everything just seems to be a huge problem. It just doesn’t matter what it is and they seem to just attract problems. They make mountains out of molehills. They are the people that will constantly see that. There’s a different category I’m going to talk about in a minute, but they will constantly see a problem in everything and not the opportunity.
John: OK, so great story that I heard real quick. A long time ago as a shoe company sent two salespeople out to a Third World country, and this first sales guy called back and said, “Hey, I don’t know what I’m doing here. These people don’t wear shoes.” And the second guy called back and said, “This is unbelievable. I’m so happy I’m here. These people don’t wear shoes.” They both saw the same situation and saw it entirely different. The problem
magnet is somebody, no matter what the situation is, there’s going to be a problem. And the small stuff is going to be major, major stuff. They major in the minors. Remember that quote.
They major in the minors. And you know, these people, hopefully you’re not one of them, but you know these people. I know you know them around.
John: I had a call one time, I remember from one of my people that said, John, we have a big problem, a big problem. And I’m like, what? And he said, we are backed up on our supply order. Paper clips, pens, staplers are not going to come in for a couple of months. I’m like…ok, what? Was that a major problem? Just realize there are people out there that want to make small stuff in the big stuff. So that’s person number one. The problem magnet person.
John: Number two that you have to avoid is the drama king or drama queen. Either one, the people that love drama. It doesn’t matter what it is, it doesn’t matter what’s happened. And they love to create drama. They love to get in the middle of it. They love to identify it and make it bigger. These are people that just live their lives in a state of drama. And it doesn’t matter if they’re going to the gas station. It doesn’t matter if they’re going to work. It doesn’t matter if it’s their school, doesn’t matter what the situation is or who they’re with. There is something dramatic that is happening and they are in the center of it some way. These types of people in an organization, in a company that I’ve had, these people, ultimately, become a major distraction and they take everybody’s eye off the main focus of the vision. And ultimately it becomes this cancerous type of environment. When people get wrapped up too much into this, it becomes like one of these, you know, morning shows or these reality shows versus really a productive and positive workplace. Ultimately, people don’t like drama except the people that are drama kings or drama queens. People don’t like to get drawn into it if they’re not part of that group that likes to exacerbate and create drama. So person number two, to avoid the drama king.
John: Person number three to avoid in your organization. And boy, this is frustrating, the person that just constantly nods their head. And what I mean by that is not the person that’s just agreeable to everything. I mean the person and this is more disastrous when they’re part of your leadership team, the person that ultimately has influence and decision making ability and decides that they will agree in public with you, but then in private, they will execute and implement something totally different. I’ve had people in leadership meetings where they’re constantly agreeable. Yeah, that’s a great idea. But then when the doors close and they’re off doing their own thing, they have a totally different mindset and have no intention to implement the game plan or strategy that we just decided or talked about in our leadership meeting. This is the head nod or they don’t have the ability to speak up or willingness to speak up. They’re not willing to create any conflict or be candid and say how they feel. They just will nod in agreement and ultimately behind the scenes implement something totally different or their own agenda that doesn’t align with what the organization’s agenda is. And that type of person, unfortunately, sometimes is hard to spot because they’re usually doing it behind the scenes. But that’s a dangerous cancer type of person to have in your organization. So the head-nodder.
John: Number four type of person. You want to avoid Negative Nedd or negative Nelly. That person that it does no matter what happens, they are just going to have this negative attitude. You know, and it’s interesting because leaders, great leaders, I know the importance that your mentality as a leader ultimately impacts everybody. There’s a ripple effect in the organization. They adopt your mentality. I was just talking to a leader yesterday.
He said, you know, I went into my organization. He said I just had a lot going on. I really did truly have a bad day. And I’m sure I had this sour look on my face and whatnot. I went into my office, I closed the door. I didn’t want to interact with anybody, blah, blah, blah. And he said one of my people sent me a text accidentally they didn’t know is going to me. And they sent this text to me and it said, wow, John is in a blankety-blank, you know, crappy, shitty mood today, huh? And they didn’t know it was sent to him. They obviously sent it by mistake. But this leader said, you know, it made me realize that, yeah, I was in a really bad mood. I didn’t know that everybody was reacting and responding and seeing that I thought it was kind of keeping it to myself, not the case. And this bad mood, and we talked about it, was impacting this person, obviously, because they noticed that. So it’s going to impact their day. They were sending a text message, you know, ideally to somebody else that was going to impact their day. It was a reminder that the leader’s attitude always, always impacts the people around them, always impacts the organization. And if that leader long-term is positive and consistently positive, the organization tends to be positive. If they are a group of people, if the leader is one that typically creates excuses, their organization will be people that tend to create excuses. If the leader is somebody who takes ownership and has ultra-high accountability and self-accountability, the organization will adopt the mentality too, if they are negative, that organizations can adopt that negativity.
John: I had somebody that I remember. A story that came to me, they had just gotten a bonus and been told they were getting a bonus and they said, you know. Do you realize how many taxes, how much taxes I’m going to have to pay with this? And I’m really OK, well, you don’t have to get a bonus if you don’t want to, she’s sorry to do that. I really feel bad that they’re going to pay so much in taxes. So I’m like, wow, hello. So they’re just some people that will see the negative and everything. And they love to hang out with negative people. They love to take positive people. Their mission in life is to try to take positive people and convert them to negative people. Now, a negative person doesn’t call themselves negative. What do they call themselves? They call themselves a realist, not a pessimist. They call themselves a realist. Now, in reality, most negative or pessimistic people are not necessarily self-aware. They don’t realize that they’re very negative. But what I will tell you, if you surround yourself with these types of people, they will rub off on you. They tend to just bum me out. I don’t surround myself with people like that. I surround myself with positive, optimistic people.
John: So that said, let’s move on to number five. Number five is what I call Sammy the Self-Promoter or Samantha the Self-Promoter, whatever. And I don’t confuse this. I think being a self-promoter is actually a positive thing. I think most people in reality need to be better at self-promoting. I think we tend to just not give ourselves enough credit and we tend to be overly humble and tend to not put a spotlight on the positive things that we do. So I think there’s a healthy amount of self-promotion that everybody needs. But I’m talking about the self-promoter that does it in a way where they do it at other people’s expense. So it’s not about them raising themselves up. It’s more about them creating a gap between themselves and others by knocking other people down. Maybe they do try and put themselves on a pedestal and then they knock people down at the same point, that type of person. And again, I know you know who I’m talking about. Maybe some people come to mind, people that you’ve worked with or you do work with or even people in your social circle. These are constantly the one-uppers. They need to be the best at everything. They need to be the one that’s getting the spotlight. They need to be the one that’s getting the attention. And again,
the people that really thrive on recognition. And believe me, I’m one of them. I love recognition. I always have in my career. That’s a motivator, right. That’s going to drive people to perform at really high levels. But the ones that can’t stand to see other people get recognition or get the spotlight and ultimately do everything in their power to shift that spotlight to themselves, that’s a dangerous person in your organization. OK, a fine line between competitive and cutthroat, competitive and ultimately a disastrous or cancerous type of person in your organization. But be on the lookout for Sammy or Samantha, the self-promoter.
John: Let’s go on a number six. Number six is what I call the Pretender. The Pretender. What is the Pretender? Well, the Pretender is somebody who spends so much time and effort, to make it look like they are doing a lot of work, but in reality they’re not doing squat. This is the type of person that is so concerned with the appearance, they actually put more effort into making it look like they’re doing a lot of work than it would take to actually do the work. It’s unbelievable. There are actually some people that exhaust more energy trying to create this idea that they are so busy and doing all this kind of stuff and doing all this work. And in reality, that’s more work than the work itself. It’s kind of crazy, but there are a lot of people out there that do this. I see this in business environments. They see people that will go through the motions, not really trying to solve a problem, not really trying to create a solution, not trying to accomplish the result. They’re just trying to show the activity and show that they’re working hard.
John: Now, I will give you a really honest insight into myself. When I started in my career way back 25 years ago as a financial adviser, there was a period of time that this was me and I didn’t even realize this. I remember my boss telling me I had to set 10 appointments a week. And that reason for that was ultimately if I said 10 appointments a week, I would bring on at least one client a week. And that was the magic formula. If I said I was going to bring on one client a week and all I had to do is be focused on the activity, well, I realized that that was how I was going to get. Recognition and ultimately result, and I forgot the fact that the biggest, most important thing is I’ve got to generate the result, right. It’s not just about the activity. The activity will lead to the result. But it’s not just I can’t go to the food store and say, hey, you know what? I don’t have any money in my bank account to pay for these groceries. But I set 10 appointments last week. Can I get by then? They’re going to be like, I don’t understand what you’re talking about. Ultimately, the only thing that matters is generating the result. But I got so caught up in that activity that for me, that was an indication that I was working hard because the result was that I was getting the appointment set, but I wasn’t converting to getting clients. So I felt comfortable in the fact that at least I was doing the activity. Nobody could say I wasn’t working hard, but I forgot the ultimate purpose of what I was doing was to acquire clients and help people. That was it. Right. The setting of the appointment didn’t actually do anything. It didn’t help anybody. It didn’t create any kind of positive result other than it was an activity. But the pretender is more so that person again, you know, though, they just go through all this effort to make it seem like they’re doing a lot and ultimately they’re doing nothing. So that’s number six, a pretender.
John: Number seven. Last but certainly not least, is this smart guy, as we say in Boston. He needs to be the smartest guy in the room or we like to call these people the know-it-alls. Now I’m all in favor. You’ve got to put smart people in your organization and they’ve got to be smarter than you. Steve Jobs used to say, why would we hire smart people and then tell
them what to do? We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do. He was a big fan of hire and he was a fantastic recruiter. He was fantastic. Acquire talent and smarts and brains. You need smart people in your organization, but I’m talking about the people that know everything. Doesn’t matter what you say, they know it all. They’re the ones that have all the answers. Nobody really is smarter than them. These people are not coachable. They’re really hard to work with. They’re ultimately very hard to have on a team. They really just it’s all about them being the smartest person in the room. So it’s difficult to build a winning organization when you have that type of person because they don’t want to grow or they’re not enabling themselves to grow. They’re not receptive to feedback or criticism. These are other characteristics that go along with that know-it-all type of person. And consequently, they just stagnate. They plateau while everybody else is growing around them. They’re not growing because they refuse to accept the fact that they can actually get better. They assume that they have all the skills, all the talent, all the knowledge that they need. So the smart guy, the know-it-all. That’s the seventh to avoid.
John: Real quick rundown on that list. Again, one was the problem magnet, right? Make mountains out of molehills. I remember a guy who created this major issue in our office because the coffee machine was broken. OK, listen, I love coffee. I drink coffee all the time, but does this business need to shut down because the coffee machine is broken? No, keep going. Keep moving. OK, the problem magnet can be disastrous. Number two was the drama king or drama queen. Terrible. We got reality shows for drama kings and queens. We don’t need them in workplaces. Three is the head-nodder, the person that agrees in a group setting. And then behind the scenes when it’s game time or they go on the playing field, they got a whole different play that they’re going to run and it’s all about them or something like that. It’s disastrous. The head-nodder doesn’t work. Number four is negative Ned or Negative Nelly. Doesn’t matter what’s going on, how positive things are, there’s something bad that’s going on and they want to share with you and they want to bring you into their negative world.
John: Number five is Sammy the Self-promoter. This is the one-upper, the person that does it at everybody else’s expense, trying to make everybody else look bad so they look better. Number six is the pretender, the person going through the motions pretending like they’re doing a lot, not doing much at all. And then lastly is the know-it-all smart guy who needs to be the one who has all the answers and they cannot get any better because they’re already as good as they’re going to get there. He’s good. Better than everybody else. Right. You don’t need people like this in your organization.
John: Those are the seven people to avoid. Stay out of their way, keep them out of your world. If you have them in your organization, guess what? You got three options, OK? These are the three things you can do. One is you can try to change them. So there are some people that don’t realize if you actually had the conversation with them and said, hey, do you know you’re negative about everything and here’s why. Or do you realize that you agree when we’re in a meeting and then you go implement? There are some people that actually don’t know that. So if you have that conversation with them and you make them aware of it, there is some chance that this person could change and could actually become a different person. There are people that change all the time, and you as the leader are empowered with the ability to change people, but they will not change on their own. They have to be
made aware that they’re one of these seven people. OK, or no one is changing them. And I hope that’s the answer for you. I hope you can do that.
John: If you can’t, you got two other choices. Either isolate them in some way, whether they’re not a negative influence on other people, which is hard to do in an organization. There may be some situations where you can’t. They’re still very valuable and there still is a way where their negative traits do not negatively impact other people. But if you can’t isolate them and you can’t change them, guess what? What are you going to do? You got to get rid of them. If you can’t change the people, you got to change the people. So it’s time to pull the trigger, get rid of them. And you know what, 2021? You’re other people. Here’s the way I always looked at it. There’s a price that I pay when I keep substandard people or average or mediocre people or below-average people or these seven people in my organization. The price that I pay because I’m not willing to make a decision and get rid of them. The price that I pay is everybody else’s sacrifice. They impact everybody else and they impact the organization as a whole. The impact our customers impact our shareholders, the impact the people that are watching our game. If I’m a coach, whatever the case is, that’s the people that pay the price for me keeping that person in the organization too long. And guess what? When you finally do get rid of them, you know what you get from all the other people in the organization. Thank you. Wow. It was about time. Thank you. Wow. Just what a big relief. That’s the type of response you get when you’ve made the right decision and gotten the wrong person out of your organization.
John: So I hope this helped a little, you know, pre New Year’s Eve type of message. So you go into 2021 with a nice, clean, clear mindset on the type of people that you want in your organization. So have fun with this. Share this, like this. Subscribe. Please go down below, give a five star rating and let me know your thoughts and reviews. And of course, keep giving me your feedback, your comments. This is how I keep going with new ideas. Let me know what the things you’re struggling with are, topics that you want to hear, or guests what you want to see on this show in 2021. I got big stuff coming for you in 2021. It’s going to be a fantastic year. I look forward to being a part of your year and I look forward to lots of success ahead. Thanks, everybody. Have a good one.
John (Closing): Thanks for joining us on today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader. For suggestions, or inquiries, about having me at your next event, or personal coaching, reach me at email@example.com Once again, that’s firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks! Lead on!