There will always be a norm, no matter the circumstances, in society, business, or an organization. What do you wear for this kind of event? How will you respond when someone tells you this? In today’s episode, host John Laurito talks about the importance of establishing the norm as the leader of your life, business, or family. He tells us how setting the standard of behavior of approaching things or situations can avoid misunderstandings and confusion.
[3:51] Society’s norms
[8:26] Establishing norms
185 – Creating your norms
John Over the last two decades, I’ve 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’s 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 OK, welcome to today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader, where we dove deep on all things related to leading yourself and leading others. I’m Jon Laurito, your host today and every day and every day today on Tomorrow’s Leader. Wow, man, I actually started doing that. Could do a whole new opening starts Friday at a theater near you. Tomorrow’s leader with John Laurito. Be prepared to be amazed and tune in to tomorrow’s leader with John Laurito starts Friday at a theater near you.
John Wow. All right. Okay. I know if this thing doesn’t work out, I know what I’m doing. All right. So storytime. Yes, storytime. A favorite time of the day. My favorite time of the podcast. So I had a friend, a good friend of mine, who had invited me to go to a, it was like a charity function at an art gallery. And I’m like, OK, let’s call it sounds like a fun time. And he said, it’s black tie and it’s, you know, we’re going to raise money for this man, blah, blah, blah, like, OK, we’re cool. This is like a pretty ritzy thing. And I had a tux, hadn’t worn the tux in a long time. So I’m like, but, you know, what I didn’t have is I didn’t have a shirt, I didn’t have the cufflinks, all that kind of stuff. I didn’t have a tie. I’m like, jeez, all right, I got to go get some stuff before I go to this.
John So I went to the store, got all my stuff. This was like a Saturday. And it was in the streets. It was in Newbury Street in Boston for those Boston Knights. You know what I’m talking about? Gregory Street. And there’s a great art gallery where you’re kind of walking down the street and walk up the steps. And there was in one of those. So they had a table on right before you walk into the steps to get up to the place with the people that were greeting you and everything. And here I’m walking. It’s Saturday afternoon. I’m walking down Newbury Street in a tuxedo and blah, blah, blah. And I walk up to the desk, the table, whatever, where they’re checking people in. And the lady is looking down and she looks up at me and she goes, oh, oh my gosh, you look so nice. And I’m thinking doesn’t everybody look like this, and I said, well, thank you very much.
John I said, this is a black-tie event, right? And she said, no, but that’s OK. You look fantastic. I’m like, wait a sec. What do you mean, no? My friend said this was a black-tie event. And. And she says, no, it’s OK, though. Come on in. So I go in, I walk in and there is nobody in a tuxedo. I’m the only one in a tuxedo. And everybody is in, you know, casual to dress clothes. There are people in jeans, put it that way. And I’m clearly the one guy I walk in there, looks over. Wow. Let’s see, where is he coming from now to this day? And this is a credit to Larry Post. Thank you, Larry Post for being the funny guy that did this. I know you say that this was not intentional. I disagree. I think it was a really funny prank.
John And anyway, it made for a cool evening. Anyways, I finally got into it and I’m like, whatever, it doesn’t matter. And it was fun. It was a really, really cool event. But I thought it was a funny story. But here’s my point is everybody in society kind of gravitates toward the norms, you know, whatever that norm is. And your organization has a norm. And most people there are some people that are outliers that don’t subscribe to this, but most people feel most comfortable doing what everybody else is doing. They feel more comfortable dressed as everybody else is dressing. They feel more comfortable talking the way other people do with the same opinions that other people have. They feel more comfortable doing the level of activity that other people have. They are more comfortable kind of being in the middle unnoticed.
John That’s a vast majority of our population and the vast majority of the organizations that you are leading. So realize that, OK, and there’s a really cool study as well. There’s a professor that every February on a random February day, but he does this every single year. The class erupts in this incredible applause. I mean, like as if, you know, they were at Mardi Gras or something like that. I mean, they just get raucous and you start yelling and everything like that. And what he does is he sends an email the day before the class to like ninety-five percent of the students. So if there are a hundred students in the class, I’ll send it to ninety-five students. And he says in the email he says, listen, I’m doing an experiment. Do not tell anybody this, do not forward this. But a majority of the students are getting this email. And what I want you to do is when I show this picture and part of the lecture, I want you to go nuts and just applaud and everything like that. I said, but don’t tell other people because there are small groups of people that aren’t part of this.
John So sure enough, the day comes that next class and they have this, they have the slide that comes up. That’s a picture of a dean standing outside the window. I mean, it’s nothing, just a person. And sure enough, the whole class goes nuts. And the five people that were not chosen for this are looking around like what’s going on. But what’s interesting is every single year, the same thing happens. Those five people are looking around and they’re wondering for a minute like what’s going on? And then they start to clap and then they start to, like, get wild. And yes, yes, now they have no idea what they’re yelling for and screaming for, but they ultimately are doing the exact same thing everybody else is doing. They just they’re the only ones that don’t know why. So the professor stops and he says, OK, he singles out one of the five people, which is always an uncomfortable moment for the person that’s singled out. And he says, hey, can I ask you something? Why were you clapping and laughing and or clapping and screaming and stuff?
John And the person’s, like, mortified. And sure enough, their answer is, I don’t know, because everybody else was. And he said and he doesn’t leave it at that. He kind of peppers them, you know, goes into a little bit deeper. He’s like, well, what what was it, though? Why why did you not if you didn’t understand why they were, you know, clapping. And the bottom line is people are uncomfortable not following the masses. They’re more comfortable being part of what everybody else is doing. It’s like if you’re sitting in a building, all of a sudden everybody starts running for the fire, for the fire exit. You’re going to do it. I mean, you don’t have the information that’s telling you to do it, but you’re assuming other people have some information that’s valuable and OK, if they’re going, I’m going.
John You walk down the street in New York City and one person is looking up at one of the skyscrapers and everybody else going to stop and look up. What are they looking at? And sure enough, one, two, three, four people look. Then it’s a whole crowd that starts to look. And before, you know, you have a whole block that’s looking up, they don’t know what they’re looking at. And this is constant through our society, as people want to do and naturally will follow the masses, whatever that is, whatever. Most people are doing they will follow those people. So here’s the interesting thing, the key is with your organization, how do you get that effect? How do you get the desired action? The masses of people you’ve seen leaders, political leaders that get whole nations behind a certain cause. And ultimately, what that comes down to is tapping into the hearts and the minds of the people. They need to understand the emotions behind something and why they’re doing something.
John But another part of it, too, is the comfort of everybody else doing that. They don’t want to be that lone outlier. They want to know that what they’re doing, the decision they’re making, the actions are taking. Everybody else subscribes to it as well. And if they are left behind and everybody else is doing something, they’re going to want to get on that train. They’re going to want to end up doing that. So the great opportunity you have as a leader is to really establish the norms of your organization. What is the normal expected thing to do? How do you act in a meeting? How vocal are you? How much do you push back on ideas? What’s the norm? Do you just sit and nod and. Yes, OK, even though you disagree with an idea, is that the norm of your culture? Is it normal that people get promoted from within? Is it normal that people are communicating and working together in teams, or is it normal that everybody’s working in their silo and it’s very competitive and doesn’t share information?
John Now, what I will tell you is there is a norm for your organization, whether you set it or not. There is a norm for your organization. You may not know it if you didn’t deliberately set it. That means somebody else did or other people did, in which case you’re not really the leader. The leader is the one that sets the tone and sets that norm. If there’s a part of your organization or an aspect of your organization you don’t like, you can actually change it. And one of the easiest things to do is start with talking about what you want that norm to be. Here’s what I expect when people come in. Here’s what I want these meetings to look like. Here’s what I don’t want these meetings to look like. I feel like we don’t have a good meeting unless we have some healthy conflict.
John So if we go through a whole meeting, we all agree. Well, I got to tell you, it’s a failure of a meeting because I know we’ve got enough brainpower in here, a difference of opinions where that’s not going to happen. That means we’re not communicating, we’re not being open, we’re not being honest. That’s a great message for a leader to send. Right. So just think about as the leader of your team, your organization or your family, your life, whatever your relationship, what are you trying to impact and influence? What is the norm if you’re in a relationship? How often do you talk? Do you bottle up problems? Do you keep them to yourself? Is that the norm or do you flush them out? Do you talk about them and say, listen, you know, here’s what’s on my mind?
John And for better, for worse, I just want to talk about it. Is that the norm or is it that you just keep things to yourself and get frustrated and more frustrated, more frustrated? I mean, what does it think about it? Think about every aspect of your life? I mean, honestly, what is the norm for how you start your day? What’s the norm for when you wake up? What’s the norm for how you handle a bad day? What’s the norm for how you handle conflict? What’s the norm for how you show your affection and love and appreciation and gratefulness? What’s the norm for how you think through things and make decisions? What’s the norm for how you encourage other people to do the same?
John There are all kinds of things. And again, you either consciously establish that and work toward it and maneuver and steer it or you don’t. You just let it happen. In which case, if you let it happen more times than that, that’s not going to be what you want. It’s not as good as you can be. It’s not as great of an organization or relationship as you can have. You got to think about it. You’re going to make it happen. That’s your job as a leader. All right. Feel free to reach out to me on this. I love this topic. This is a great couple of cool stories about that. But just think about that. What are the norms in my life and in my organization and message me, call me, text me whatever you want to do, I’m happy to talk about it.
John In the meantime, always interested in your ideas for future guests and topics, things you may be struggling with, things you want to learn about, whatever message me and let me know. Of course, share, subscribe, like go down below, give a five-star review, all that kind of good stuff and I will see you next time. Thanks. Bye. 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 John@johnlaurito.com. Thanks, lead on!