#136-Are You Preparing Your Team?
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 and every day. So I have just begun something that I’m having a blast with. And this won’t be the last time you hear of it, because I will be talking, I’m sure, many episodes about this. But I just started playing kickball. Yeah, kickball. We’ve played it like, you know, in third, fourth, fifth grade. Well now, here I am almost 50 and I’m on a kickball league. That’s right. I’m playing ball. We have a group of 15 or 20 people and we go out there every Sunday. We’ve been practicing. We have not played a game yet. That doesn’t happen for a few weeks. But I got to tell you, it is a blast. It is an absolute blast. So we get out there. None of us have played kickball in forever. So we’re kind of thinking back and relearning some of the rules and stuff like that, feeling what it’s like to kick a kickball again and just having some fun. But here’s a couple of cool things.
John: We have a great team and none of us have played in a lot of years. We’re all different levels. We got, for the most part, a reasonably close age bracket. But we join this league that has a maximum of eight teams. We were five minutes after the registration opened and we were team number seven, literally. I mean, that’s how fast this thing filled up. So popular sport. But it’s, I got to tell you, it’s really cool. We all got out there, different skill sets, different athletic abilities, and all this stuff. And virtually everybody has made this great amount of progress like the team is really coming together. It’s only been two practices, but the team is really coming together. And I gotta tell you a couple of things. And yeah, the team I’m hoping you’re out there listening and you can you can vouch for that. We are making progress. So I think it’s going to be a good season. I feel good about it. Doesn’t matter who we’re going to play. I think we are going to play together as a team. Really well, a couple of things that really kind of strike me.
John: One is and it’s just this is a reminder of the power of leadership and building the right culture and all this kind of stuff. I mean, you know, when one person has success, catches a ball, it’s like the whole team goes nuts. You know, we’re all supporting everybody. When you
have that kind of atmosphere, it doesn’t matter if somebody screws up or doesn’t. It’s a team where it’s like, OK, it’s actually OK to drop a ball. It’s OK to learn some of the rules as you go and all this kind of stuff. It’s a forgiving type of atmosphere in some organizations that have a very unforgiving atmosphere.
John: They don’t tolerate mistakes. They don’t tolerate a learning curve. They don’t tolerate different variances and skill levels or experience or things like that. You have to kind of fit this mold of what they expect and that’s it. And if you don’t, you’re kind of left out to be on the outside. This is different. And when this happens like this, where you bring everybody together, you have some fun. Everybody kind of just check their ego at the door and you
have a blast. It’s amazing what you can do. You actually play really well. You know, we have a lot of fun together.
But one of the things that was interesting, we were going through the other day, different situations and kind of running drills and stuff like that. Yeah, we literally have practices. Yes, we have practices. So we’re running through these different scenarios. A person on first, a person on second, and two outs. And kickball is in the air. It’s on the ground. What do you do? And kind of going through, you know, just running base running skills and just the, you know, kickball smarts, so to speak. And some people have played baseball. Others, if not others, have played a lot of sports. Others have not played any. So it’s all different levels. But that type of work together in preparing the team for different situations benefits everybody because it reinforces, OK, here’s what’s going to happen now in sports, like baseball or kickball or whatever. There’s a finite number of things that are going to happen.
John: OK, the kicker is going to either kick it in the air or on the ground. They’re either going to kick it far, they’re going to kick it short. So you have limited scenarios that you can prep for. They’re going to kick in on the right side or left side and you can go through that. And a good coach of a baseball team will do that. Hey, OK, balls hit in the air. What are you doing? Second baseman? What are you doing? You know, OK, you’re going to first grade. You’re gonna hear whatever you and the runners. Hey, what’s happened? You hit it on the ground. It’s on the ground. What are you doing to the left side? Right side. So you’re kind of going through these scenarios and that’s great coaching as leaders. Are you doing that with your team? Are you running through different scenarios? Are you preparing them for the real world and being able to react quickly and accurately? Right.
John: So we used to, when I was starting in financial services, we had to memorize a script, an 11 page script, no joke, this thing was called the PMM: Personal Money Management Interview. And for those of you at Ameriprise to listen and you know what I’m talking about, one of my great friends and mentors, Larry Post, has been on this show, was a master at drilling you out this thing. I was in my first year and second year and third year coming in when he was leading these classes that were like every Wednesday morning. And you’d get, you know, whatever was 50 or 100 advisers into one room.
John: And he would lead a role play and it was drill for skill. And he’d say, OK, John, you know, do your PMM and I’d have to go through it and recite it as though we were in a meeting. But I had 50 or 70 or 100 people watching me as though and they knew what I was supposed to say. Wow, talk about pressure. Pressure was intense. I remember a kid projectile vomited in one of the classes. No joke, no exaggeration. Projectile vomited because he was so nervous. I mean, people would truly get, you know, physically sick. It was horrible and I hated it.
John: But what I will tell you is all that practice made me really, really good, like all the different scenarios. So I go through and I go through the planning fee and what the service entails and everything like that. And then Larry would throw out a resistance and I’d have to handle it and I’d have to figure out what to do and how to say it and how to rebut it and what to say. And I keep going and he’d keep going and he’d throw more and then he’d bounce to somebody else who didn’t seem like they were paying attention and they’d have to pick it up.
He created this healthy level of anxiety and it ultimately prepared us for the real world in an unbelievable way.
John: We were number one in the country, I think, for years and years under Larry’s leadership, because he was so good at making us brilliant at the basics. And that’s what it was. It wasn’t like we were learning, you know, the, you know, technical charting or or, you know, all this in-depth stuff and technology or how to do blah, blah, blah. It was literally learning the basics of the business, how to make a phone call, how to actually have a conversation with somebody. And we became brilliant at that because of the repetition and the practice over and over again.
John: Do you do that as a leader in your organization? Are you drilling your people and preparing them for the different scenarios that might come up? It could be anything. Now, in leadership, you really have almost an infinite level of different scenarios, people saying different things or situations that come up. It’s not like sports where you have a finite, different number of things, but you can still prepare your team. You can teach them and develop them on how to handle things like conflict and how to lead people through change, and how to lead themselves through change, and how to communicate effectively and how to make decisions.
John: All these things are things that are actually learnable and they’re teachable. So as a leader, are you doing that? Are you preparing your team? Because you know what? It’s not about making 100% difference. If you make a 3% difference in the skill sets of your team, the results are dramatic. They’re not tiny. They’re not 3% difference in results, 3% difference in skills and abilities leads to a dramatic difference, not only in the short term, but in the long term. It is unbelievably significant. The best teams are not multiples better than other teams. They’re just a little bit better in a lot of different areas. And that’s it. That’s what it comes down to.
John: So as a leader, what are you doing to create that type of environment just like we’re doing and kickball or baseball coach does with their team? I remember seeing I think it was documented that Bill Belichick of the Patriots and how he goes through and literally gets the team together says, OK, gang, here’s the deal. We got four minutes, 11 seconds on the clock in the fourth quarter. They have the ball at our 22-yard line. Here’s what the scenario is. What do you do? And they each call on them and they’ve got to say, OK, here’s what we’re going to do, OK, here’s what they’re going to do. Here’s what we’re going to do. Here’s how we respond. I mean, they go through this over and over and over because it prepares them for the real-life real situation. They don’t have to think when they’re in the game. If they have to think in the moment that that game is happening, they’re dead. Forget it. It’s not going to happen.
John: OK, so if I’m in that meeting with a client and they’re asking me are pushing back or giving me resistance that I haven’t heard before, haven’t practiced or I don’t know how I’m going to respond, I’m probably not going to be as good as if I’ve practiced it. And I’ve said, OK, well, let me explain what the fee covers or let me explain why this makes sense and
why it’s an ongoing type of service or why you shouldn’t think about it and why you should take action, whatever it is. But these are things that I can prepare for. And as a leader, it’s your job to get your people prepared.
John: So my question today is, what are you doing? Are you doing anything? Are you doing if you are doing something, are you doing enough? And if you are doing something, is it working? Is it paying off? Because sometimes we can do stuff that we think is actually working. And we look at the results and we’re like, you know what, it’s really not making it feel good or feels like we’re doing something, it’s checking a box, but it’s really not making the difference. We’re trying to see if it’s not working and you’re not seeing results and people don’t feel like it’s working, then stop it. Don’t do it. Don’t keep doing it. Change it, do something different. Find something that’s working. OK, I’ve got lots of ideas for you. If you want to reach out to me, I’ll share them with you.
John: But in the meantime, keep that in mind. What are you doing right now to develop and prepare your people? Thanks for joining us today. More is coming very soon. Lots of good stuff, lots of good guests coming up. So stay tuned, give a thumbs up, share, subscribe, go down below, give the five star rating, all that kind of good stuff and we’ll see you next time. Thanks.
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!