#119 How Visibility Enhances Performance
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 am John Laurito, your host today with a very special episode. I think you’re going to like this because my childhood hero, a guy who I’ve looked up to for years and years and years and years, who I’ve read about in magazines and books and watched all his movies and just followed his whole career and really been admiring from afar, I finally get the chance to meet my childhood hero. He happened to be local here in Holly Springs and has popped into the studio today to give some insight on today’s topic, which is the topic of visibility. And I’m going to explain what this means.
John: Visibility, visibility. It’s kind of a hard word to say, actually, visibility. Anyways, back to my surprise guest who’s come in, the one the only Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold, it is great to have you in the studio here.
“Arnold”: Well, I got the opportunity to come in and talk to your Tomorrow’s Leader gang.
John: Well, thanks, Arnold. I appreciate it. I know everybody’s as thrilled as I am to have you here. I know you only got a minute. So I’m only going to ask you a couple of quick questions here. But, you know, today’s topic is the topic of visibility and what it actually does to performance. And what I mean by that is like when you take something, anything and make it more visible not just by yourself, but by other people, how it enhances your performance, your work effort, your motivation, whatever it is. And I think you were, you know, kind of the champion of that. I mean, you certainly were big on doing everything, use the work out in public and do all kinds of stuff. What are your thoughts on something like that?
“Arnold”: That’s one of the most important things that contributed to my success overall and helped me, you know, become the seven-time Mr. Olympia. You know, I used to work out at Muscle Beach with the bunch of the bodybuilders that we’d work out together. You know, there’s little competition and we have everybody watching us. You know, as we were lifting, you know, one of the areas that I always wanted to do, you know, the buildup was my calves because, you know, I had these big biceps, big chest, and, you know, every other muscle group became very easy to me. And, you know, my calves just didn’t respond the same way. You know, my bodybuilder friends would kind of make fun of me and they’d be joking around about my, you know, skinny calves. So, you know, I used to cut off my sweatpants. So you see the calves, you know, all the time. I couldn’t cover them up. And, you know, it was painful because, you know, guys would rib me and get to make fun of me. But, you know, the calves being on display, you know, kinda pushed me. You know, it’s made me work harder and push. And ultimately, that became one of my best body parts, you know. And today, you know, people look at old pictures of me, you know, it’s my biceps, of course, my
chest. But my calves are one of my best body parts. But tonight, I attribute it to the fact that you know, I did that, put it on display. So I think unless you’re going to be a girlie man, you do stuff like that, you know, put it on display. I think that’s important.
John: Well thanks, Arnold. I appreciate that. I mean, couldn’t have said it better myself. I think that’s important for sure. I know you’ve gotta run, so I appreciate you jumping in the studio for two minutes here and sharing that because it does have a lot to do with today’s topic. So, Arnie, thank you very much.
“Arnold”: Well, thank you, I’ll be back.
John: OK, so anyway, today’s topic. Yes, it is about visibility. So what I mean by this, just like Arnie explained there, is that this amazing thing happens when you put yourself on display. And here’s what I’m talking about. Lots of different examples, not just the one that Arnie just gave, but just think about your own life. And any time you’re in a situation where other people are watching you and other people are aware of what you’re doing, we tend to just perform better. I mean, it’s a fact. As much as we say we are at our A-game and work 100% effort when we are by ourselves and nobody else is watching, well, that’s not always the case. What I find is that as a leader, the best organizations I’ve run, it has been a very visible type of organization. What I mean by that is performance is measured, it’s seen, it’s in the open, results are in the open. It’s a very transparent environment. And I think about that with some organizations that are totally different. Especially sales organizations where they actually don’t publicize or make it available within that organization, how people are doing and how they’re performing, don’t publish sales numbers. I don’t understand sales organizations that do that.
John: And I’ve talked to leaders that, you know, they say, no, I don’t put out the numbers. I don’t share that. You know, that’s private information. I gotta tell you, you’re missing the boat. And the feedback is, well, you know, a lot of people don’t like that. They don’t want their numbers shared. Yeah, well, guess what? Guess which is which people. I can guess which ones don’t want that type of number of stuff shown. Right. It’s probably not your best people. It’s probably not the most productive people. It’s probably not the people at the top. It’s the people at the bottom. Right. They don’t want that song. Of course, they don’t want that shown. That’s more embarrassing than anything else. But I’m not saying this is a means of, hey, this is a public shame type of thing, but when you publicize things, it drives everybody’s activity. Their behaviors change.
John: And I’ll give you a great example. I went to a spin class where I do all kinds of different workouts and my training partner, Jeff, and I once a week take the spin class. And if you haven’t taken a spin, which is cycling, it’s fantastic. What a great workout. And I got to tell you, you know, we do it on Thursday mornings, super early in the morning with Covid. It’s not that maybe three, four, or five of us in this whole big room spread out. So it’s not a lot of people in there. And, you know, the first time we went in there, it was good. It was a good workout, without a doubt. We got done. We were tired. It’s like an hour workout. But the one thing that happened the second time, which did not happen the first time. The second time I walked in, I got on my bike. We started the class and I didn’t realize this until maybe a couple of minutes into the class. But next to the instructors, you look to the front of the class, on the
left and on the right, next to the instructor were these big screens. And on these screens was everybody’s name in the class and then their performance numbers.
John: And what I mean by that is if you haven’t done cycling before or spin class before, they measure a few different things. One is cadence or R.P.M. So how fast you are pedaling the bike? OK, that’s one measure. And then the other is energy or output, which is the watts the measure it by watts. So you can see these two numbers and you’re looking at I think they track something else, but those are the two things that I’m looking at. And I see this wall, these two screens, and everybody’s numbers are up. They’re real-time. So as the class is going, you’re seeing how Bob and Mary and Nancy and Jeff and John are all performing. You can see how much effort, because I will tell you in a spin class, you can kind of just dial it back and do your own piece because a little gauge there, a little knob that you turn to make it easier or harder, whatever. Yeah. You can kind of go into a spin class and go through the motions. And I’m going to be honest, the first class there was tough. But when I went into the second class now my mindset going into this class was, hey, you know what? I’m going to go in this class and just wasn’t feeling. And I was tired. I was like, you know, just I’m on this diet. I’m hungry, I’m cranky. And I’m like, you know, I’m just going to suffer through the 50-minute class. And I just wasn’t committed to putting my all into it. But then I saw these numbers on the board and I could see Jeff’s numbers and I could see Mary’s and Bob’s and John’s numbers, and all of a sudden I didn’t even want to, but my whole attitude changed.
John: And now I’m like, OK, I am not going to be the guy with the lowest numbers. I’m not going to be the one holding this class, being the anchor in this group. And I’m looking over Jeff. I’m looking at his numbers. And I got to say, he’s a great baker. He’s much better than me. I know it. We go out and I’ll go mountain biking and all kinds of stuff. And he’s just, you know, he’s a good biker. He’s a good cyclist. And he just, you know, so I’m looking at his numbers and I’m like, wow, as fast as I’m going, he’s going faster, as hard as I’m pushing, he’s pushing harder. And it just totally transformed my workout, seeing these numbers right in front of me where they were on public display. And I literally couldn’t get them to the workout. And it’s not like I could fake it. It’s like I could be like, hey, I had a really tough workout. Well, if I didn’t and I just kind of went through the motions, it’s clear to everybody in the class, including Jeff, my training partner, there’s no way you can escape it. So I had to push myself. And you know what we got done with the class. It was one of the best workouts. It was one of the toughest workouts, but it was one of the best workouts I have ever had.
John: So my point in the realization with this is as a leader, you have the opportunity to control the environment. So this cycle class teacher was the leader in this situation. He decided that or maybe the club decided as a way to drive up the whole productivity or performance of the class. They’d put everybody’s numbers on display and breed a little competitiveness. And wow, did it work like crazy? If we were a sales organization, that sales unit in that room would have done tremendously well, significantly better. Just because everything was on display. You couldn’t hide. You couldn’t go through the motions. You just couldn’t hide. Now, I’m not saying that leaders need to micromanage. I’m not a micromanager. There are times where you have to, though, but for the most part, you can lead a great organization and not micromanage. All it is is just making things visible.
John: And there are a few things that happen. One is we tend to do really well with the things we focus on. If we’re looking at something, we’re going to focus. If I’m looking at RPM’s and I’m looking at the measurement, I’m going to do better with RPM’s. My cadence is going to be faster. Just because I’m looking at the number one I’m focusing on. I’m doing better if I’m flying a plane and I’m looking at the altimeter, well, I’m probably going to do pretty good trying to keep the plane at a certain altitude. Now, my airspeed may be off if I’m not watching that, but if I’m looking straight at the altimeter the whole time, attitude is probably going to be where I’m trying to get it to. Here’s the second thing that happens when we measure, we tend to do really well, not just what we focus on, but when we measure something like measuring his calves. Hey, you know what? If he’s measuring it every single day or every single week, he’s probably going to do better and just be focused on growing those calves. It’s the reason we step on a scale if on a diet. If I’m not looking at the scale at all. Well, it’s hard for me to really measure if I’m not tracking calories, I’m not measuring it. It’s hard for me to have the best possible outcome in this. We’re measuring things and I’m quantifying how I’m doing in the cycle class, something I’d never done before. I never quantified how I do in a cycle class. Now I’m looking at a screen that’s quantifying it. It’s telling me what success looks like. So here’s the other thing.
John: As a leader, do all of your people know what success looks like? And what I’m talking about is what does a successful day look like for this individual, this leader that you have on your team? What does success look like in this role? Do they know it clearly? Do you measure it? Do they know what a successful week looks like? Maybe they know what a successful year looks like, but do they know what a successful week looks like? Do they know when at the end of the week they should high five or should they scratch their head and say, what happened? And let me look back on this and how do I change this outcome for the next week? I cannot tell you how important this is. There are so many people in the world that have jobs and they can’t define what a successful week looks like. What a successful day looks like. It just boggles my mind. And it is unbelievably frustrating because if you can do that and you can define that and quantify it for somebody, the results will go up dramatically. If you just fix one thing, that’s it. OK, it’s not just visibility, but it’s clarity. OK, once you have clarity, then it’s easy to make it visible. If I know that my RPM’s and it’s like the teacher is saying, hey, for this phase, you need to be above 100 RPM’s right now. I know if I’m at 90, I’m unsuccessful. I’m not meeting the expectations. If I’m at one hundred and one, I’m successful, quantified. It made it visible. It was clear. It was easy, quantifiable. What we measure we tend to do really well with and then the last thing is when you do make it visible and it’s not just you, you’re competing against yourself, but you also throw in other people in there.
John: You get people that are competitive like me, which I am. I always have been. That’s not a bad thing. That’s a good thing. I think it’s a very good thing. You get people performing that much better. There was no way I was going to be, granted you got some people that can’t stand to be number two. I went into that cycle because I knew I’m not the best cycler in there, but I sure as hell didn’t want to be the worst one. Now, if I was doing something different that I’m better at, maybe my goal would be to finish number one. But I know because there were other people in that cycle class with me and it wasn’t just me, and I could see what everybody else was doing, I guarantee I perform better. I know my workout was better. OK, think about yourself if you’re a runner. When you run with other people and you’re actually running hard, do you run faster or slower? Assuming it’s a good competitive
person that’s ideally better than you, you’re going to run faster? Absolutely. Of course, it becomes more of a race, right?
John: That’s the whole concept. So if you really want to enhance your performance and other people’s performance, make it visible, measure it, make it really clear in terms of what winning looks like, and then make sure other people can see each other, make sure they can measure themselves against each other. You breed the right type of competitiveness in the right way. OK, we all want to win. We all want to come out of that cycle class having a great workout and you can do that. It’s not the greatest thing is it’s not like if I have work, a great workout, somebody else doesn’t. Now, that’s the wrong type of competition. The right type of competition is you push each other and everybody comes out better than they would have otherwise. The result of that mix and that dynamic of having other people visible in the race, so to speak, of what you’re competing for or whatever business you’re doing is that everybody wins. It’s not one person who wins at the expense of somebody else. Everybody wins because they do better because there’s a group involved and there’s a little bit of that friendly competition. So those are my few thoughts on the importance of visibility and clarity, visibility and clarity. I hope you enjoy this, Arnold. Thanks again for joining. I appreciate that was incredible.
“Arnold”: It wasn’t a problem. Anytime you want to come on I’d be happy to come and share some ideas.
John: That’d be great, awesome. Much appreciated, my friend. Anyways, have a great one. I hope you enjoyed it today. Stay tuned for more good stuff and more surprise guests, who knows. I got a lot of accents. I got a lot of impersonations I can do. So enjoy it. Make sure you share. Give me comments. Go down below five-star rating please review, review, review, and subscribe. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org Once again, that’s email@example.com. Thanks! Lead on!