There are a lot of influencers in today’s world and everyone, at one point or another, has had our choices influenced by someone. Today host John Laurito shares a story about how his opinion impacted people’s thoughts during a training session. He also talks about how, as a leader, knowing the most influential member of your organization and getting them on your side can make a huge difference.
[7:08] The power of influence
[8:19] The silent influencer
[11:21] Important: who are the influencers in your organization
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. All right, welcome to today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader, where we dove deep on all things related to leading yourself and leading others.
John I’m John Laurito, your host. So I well, got a little surprise when I went outside yesterday, the UPS guy had dropped off a nice package for me. And just like everybody else, I love to get packages and especially when I’m not expecting them. This was a big box, a heavy box, I’m thinking carried it in, “I’m wondering what is inside it.” I opened it up. And what do you know? I have these nice beauties here. If you’re listening and not watching, what I am holding up is tomorrow’s leader. How the best leaders become better in a fast-changing world by yours truly. John Laurito hardcover. Looking Nice. Smells good. Let’s get that new book, Scent. Oh, look at that. Just nice pages. You hear that? I’m just for. Do you hear that? For those of you who are listening. Wow, that sounds good. You can get your very own copy of this if you would like to order it. It is on Amazon. So go check it out.
John Those of you who have ordered it, I greatly appreciate your feedback. And do me a favor, go to Amazon site and give it a rating. The more ratings for not only the book but this show, the more that works into the algorithms, the more people see it, the more people have an opportunity to listen to the show or by the book. I greatly appreciate it, especially if you’ve enjoyed listening to or reading the book. Either one. I greatly appreciate your support. So reviews really, really, really, really do matter. I do appreciate your feedback. OK, so with that said, I want to tell you a story that’s not in the book. Most of my stories, interestingly enough, are that I tell in the podcast very few are in the book. So it’s all different types of stories in the book. But let me tell you one, that was a really cool experience. It was pretty funny and cool and it made a good point.
John So I was this was back in when I was running the Hartford office of Ameriprise and we did a group, I guess it was a region-wide training session for our leaders, sales leaders, operation team leaders. I mean, probably I’m going to say 50 of us were in this training and we had brought in somebody to conduct this training. It was over two days. And I’ve got to say, for two-day training, which is really tough to sit through for somebody like me who has some added issues, it was outstanding. It was really, really good. Well done. I wish I could remember the name of the guy who taught it. I’d give him some props here, but it was just around everything related to handling change and conflict and all kinds of stuff. The bottom line is we had at the beginning of this the guy who had was running it and my boss, his name is Pat, came to me and said, hey, listen, at a certain point in this guy’s presentation, we want you to play a role, kind of an acting role. And nobody’s going to know about this except for you.
John But at this certain point, we basically want you to create a scene. And I’m like, OK, well, like, what are you talking about? I’m immediately interested and intrigued. He said, well, you know, when I say this specific phrase and it’s going to come up around one o’clock today, when I get into this point and I say this specific phrase, I want you to interrupt and I want you to basically say that you are wondering why we’re even in this training and you just think it’s a waste of time. I’m like, Really? He said, yeah, I want to this is his ties into what I’m training on. Don’t when I’m teaching on. But you’re the only one who’s going to know this. I really want you to play this part. And Pat said you’d be a perfect person for this. And I’m like, OK, great.
John So as we’re getting closer to this time, I’m thinking, OK, Jesus, like 50 people. I’m the only one who knows that I’m going to be doing this, playing this role in the middle of this interrupting this guy, which is really not in my character. I mean, very few people would ever do what I’m about to do. And so he gets closer to his point. I kind of know I’m seeing the cues and stuff like that. He gets closer to his point. He gets into the sentence. That’s my cue. And sure enough, I raise my hand and I’ve got kind of this sour look on my face. And he says, yeah. And I say, you know what? I just got to say, I’ve been sitting here for half a day and we’re all really, really busy people, and I got to say, I just am scratching my head wondering, what are we doing?
John This is a total waste of time. And I’ve just got to say, I’m just I’m clueless as to where you’re going, what I’m getting out of this again. I just think it’s a waste of time. And I hear people next to me like, oh, and I hear somebody like a couple of seats over say, that’s ridiculous. Why he can’t be saying that stuff. But what I also heard is I heard other people saying, yeah, he’s right. Yeah, exactly. Right now, I did not intend to create this this this agreement among people candidly was a great training session, really was one of the best I have been to yet. We’ve got people now agreeing with me unbeknownst. I don’t even know if that was part of the plan. And then this guy goes into this dialog with me and he says, well, you know, maybe you don’t find it valuable because you’re not paying attention. And then I come back at him.
John So it gets combative and I say I am paying attention. Maybe it’s just you’re not delivering the right stuff. And people are mortified. I mean, literally, some people in the audience are mortified. This goes on for a couple of minutes and he says, all right, I got to tell everybody, I put John up to this. And here’s the point. I want to talk about how you handle difficult situations and conflicts and all this kind of stuff. What did you observe? What did you hear John do? So the whole group was let in at that point? Well, what was really, really funny is the fact that everybody was blown away. It really made a great point. And I’ll tell you more about the point that came out of this. But there were a number of people now that were like, oh, my God, I just agreed with him. This was a setup. I don’t even feel that way. I didn’t necessarily agree with them. They were literally like backpedaling. And they’re saying, you know, I just he said it and I just I don’t know. I felt like I needed to agree with them, whatever, blah, blah, blah. Here’s the interesting thing.
John And after this session, this guy got rave reviews across the board. It truly was two days. And I wouldn’t normally say two days out of the office or out of the business would be as well worthwhile. It was tremendously valuable and it was a lot of fun. We did some of the stuff. But here’s the interesting thing. The purpose behind the scenes of this was also to demonstrate the power of influence. And it’s why I was chosen because they felt like I had a certain amount of influence in this group. And what the point was, what was interesting is even though people did not necessarily agree with me, they still went along and created the impression that they felt the same way because I expressed some dissatisfaction with it. In other words, my feelings or perceived feelings actually changed my mind or started to change the opinion and at least the chatter, the conversation of other people and not even in a way that really, really felt. And here’s a reason why I’m bringing this up, is every leader in their organization has people that are like I was in this exercise.
John They’re influential people that have an impact on other people and how they feel and what they do and their decisions and how they act and everything. And most of the time, these are not people that are in any kind of formal leadership position. Most of the time, these are the people that might even be the quiet ones. But if you ask a question, if there’s something brought up in a big group of fifty people, it’s usually where people’s eyes will go. The look to this person, they’ll see what their expression is on their face. They’ll wait to hear what this person says, the way to watch what this person does. And then they oftentimes will follow suit. If this person doesn’t like what’s being said, while they immediately don’t like it, if they like it, they like it. It’s a fascinating social experiment. And I will tell you what came from this is a really heightened awareness that there are always people in your organization that have a lot of influence.
John It does not matter if it’s a sports team, if it’s a school, if it’s a company if it’s a nonprofit group, whatever it is, your organization has people that have this silent nonpositional level of immense influence in your organization. What do you do with that as a leader? What do you do with that now? I’ve been in many situations where I had to take over organizations that may not have been doing well or really not doing well and turn it around. You may be a leader like that. You may be a leader that’s been leading an organization for a long period of time. And you realize really quickly when I’m talking about this, OK, yeah, I know exactly who these people are. This person is in my organization, but I want you to think about that. If you don’t know who that person is, I want you to just think through it. And as you get to know your organization, if you’re brand new and you’ve just taken this over, you need to look for the people in your organization that fit that characteristic, the silent influencer, the person that most people will go to or seek out advice from, they’ll take their cues from.
John They’ll basically adopt, in many cases, their way of thinking. And here’s why this is absolutely critical for a leader to recognize this person. This person is your key to turning around the organization. This person is the key to driving the level of results in this organization and really taking it to the place it needs to get to because it’s not just you as the leader. People will follow you, but there’s a lot of people that are going to follow him or her. And if you can get this person on your side, so to speak, buying into your vision, they will make your job ten times easier because they will be the ones that actually rally the troops and get everybody run in the same direction with your rowing, in the same direction with you. If you’re a fan of TED Laza, which I just started watching, a phenomenal show, it is a blast to watch and you fall in love with the guy.
John But that’s one of his secrets. You know, when you watch the first few episodes you saw, he went into a place, a soccer team that needs to be turned totally around and he adopted or started to develop relationships with the right people. Roy, I think, is his name was one of them who did happen to have a position. He was captain of the team, but very, very influential. If he did not get Roy on board with his way of thinking, there was really no hope. I mean, honestly. And yeah, there can be. But ultimately, that’s the person that’s going to influence so much. You have to figure out who are the people that have the respect. And that’s what it really comes down to. Who are the people that have the most respect from the organization as a whole from the people in your organization?
John Those are the people you need to start with, then really build the relationship and bring them into your vision. And it’s not just saying, hey, here’s where we’re going, here’s we’re going to do you got to get their buy-in, which means you’ve got to get their input, too. You’ve got to understand what their perspective is and have them be part of that solution. Have them be part of putting that vision together. Ask them, hey, what do you think’s happened over the last couple of years? What’s caused us to be in this situation here? I value your opinion. I value your input. Share with me. What do you think needs to happen? Get them part of that solution?
John Because if they’re not part of the solution, they’re part of the problem. But if you can really tap into their skill sets and their mental acuteness and awareness, ultimately they can be a major game-changer for you. That’s key. So I see a lot of leaders that don’t necessarily pay attention to that. Look for that. Again, I’m hoping just through this podcast you’re saying, yep, I know who that person is in my organization. If you’ve got a tight relationship with them, you’ve got them on board. You’re really singing from the same sheet of music. Great. You’ve already started to see the effects of that. If not, you may have some work to do. And if you want to reach out to me, I’ll go through some ideas with you and whatnot. But the first thing is to get together with them, have a conversation with them, talk to them, understand their perspective, understand what they want to have happened in the organization, get their ideas and start to build that bridge between the two of you.
John Because I will tell you, it will be a total, total game changer for what you’re trying to do as a leader. So in any event, I hope this helped help. That was an interesting concept. Again, whether you’re a coach or a teacher, a CEO, a business owner, whatever the case may be, you’ve got these people in your organization. It’s just a matter of whether you’re tapping into them and helping to reach their potential and yours.
John So without anything else, have a great day. Make sure to go on the Amazon Web site, give five-star reviews for the book. Greatly appreciate it. Do the same here for this podcast. You know where to find me and share subscribe like all that kind of good stuff. And we’ll see you next time. Thanks, everybody. 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 John@johnlaurito.com Once again, that’s John@johnlaurito.com. Thanks, lead on!