297 - Critical Leadership through New Experiences - John Laurito
Episode 297 Critical Leadership through New Experiences Tomorrows Leader Podcast with John Laurito

297 – Critical Leadership through New Experiences

In this episode, host John Laurito talks about his realization about being a good leader when he underwent surgery for a torn meniscus. He shares what a person should do to become the best leader he can be for his team and organization. Many leaders often overlook these things because of how small they may seem, but they can either make or break teamwork and, ultimately, the business.

[0:00] Intro

[0:40] Riddle, riddle, another riddle

[1:51] What’s new with John?

[4:22] Tell them what to expect

[5:42] Increase communication

[13:14] Give a clear measuring stick

[17:31] Outro

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John Over the last two decades, I’ve been on an insatiable quest to learn everything I can about leadership. What makes the best leaders so good? After running companies small and large over 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. I’m your host, and I invite you to join me on this journey as we explore this very topic and what makes the best leader so good. Welcome to tomorrow’s leader. Well, hello there. I’m John Laurito, your host today. Welcome to the show. Okay, so another riddle for you today. I know you look forward to these again. I’m just going to add a little disclaimer here. I do not have the winner from the last couple because I’m still filming. This is the same day I’m recording three episodes. So as soon as I have these released as if you’re listening to these, you’ve already heard them. 

John I will be sure in the next episode that I record to acknowledge those of you who have won the winners. So let me give you another good one today. Today’s riddle is and again, I trust in the fact you’re not cheating. I know you’re not. I know you’re not. But you can’t look this up. You can’t Google it. I’m going to just trust the fact this is coming right out of your noggin. What English word has three consecutive double letters? What English word has three consecutive double letters? I’m going to say this is a hard one. It’s not an easy one. So I will leave you with that. Now that I’ve said it, write it down. Put it in your memory bank and pay attention. All right. No more riddles. We’re done. 

John Okay. I’m going to tell you a little bit about what’s going on with me. As I told you, I took a little bit of time off. Not much. Only a week and a half or so. I don’t remember if I told you in the last episodes I had knee surgery. I was. I was scaling a mountain and. Oh, no. All right. Never mind. I was playing kickball and I tore my meniscus. Yeah, not fun. Not fun at all. Yeah. Yeah, I was playing kickball, was on a kickball team, and tore my meniscus. So. But I was safe. Okay, so we’ll just leave it at that. All right. It was a well-worth kick, and I was safe. I made it first. So, anyway, those of you who have had a torn meniscus. You know, it’s not fun. I heard that pop, and the first time that’s ever happened to me got an MRI. They told me, Yep, you got to have surgery. So I had the surgery three weeks ago today. Actually, I’m feeling good. Significantly better. Rocky Road. 

John But if anybody’s going through that, reach out to me. I’ll tell you all about it and what to do, what not to do. So I tell you a couple of things that I think there’s a leadership lesson in everything, great leadership lessons in this as well, both good and bad, some things to learn from, some things to do again. So here’s my experience overall. Very good experience. I went to Duke. They did a phenomenal job. Doctors, they’re terrific. They care for you in a great way. They take care of everything. Bottom line, the procedure was like an hour and a half and I was in and out. Well, I didn’t know anything. I mean, I do this thing any time I’m going under, which hasn’t been a lot, but I’ve gone, you know, under four different minor procedures. And I’m thinking, okay, I’m going to be the guy who fights this anesthesia. I’m going to be the guy that they’re like, Wow, we cannot put him out. I mean, this is unbelievable. 

John This guy is just like, well, you know, they give you Propofol, which is phenomenal, and you go right out. You have no, I, I don’t even have any recollection. It wasn’t I don’t I don’t even remember them saying like count backward from 100. I don’t remember anything like literally, I was out. So in that event. It was a great experience. I woke up and, you know, everything was done, was like just I blinked and everything was done. So in any event, a couple of things that they do, and here’s what they did. That was great. One is they told me what to expect. I had never been through it before. Granted, you know, you’re a little nervous and stuff. They told me, listen, you’re not going to know anything. Here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to be here. Exactly. We’re going to do the procedure. 

John Here’s the outcome we’re hoping for. You’re going to be feeling great. You’re going to come into the recovery room. You got to know. We’re going to know it’s happening. We’re going to tell you everything about it. Everything was terrific with that. And they just set the right expectations. So they told me what to expect, which was great. And as a leader, if you’re leading people going through something that they’ve never gone through before, and in a few episodes, we’re going to be talking about change, leading people through change. But any time you’re leading something through somebody who’s never done it before, you got to realize their emotions are at an all-time high. And if you can paint the picture of good and bad of what’s going to happen, what they can expect, then they know, then it’s a little bit less stressful because they know what to expect. They know when the tough times come. 

John You’ve already told them about it and they know it’s temporary and they know what’s going to happen. It’s just it paints the picture for them versus them kind of walking through a dark house where they’re fumbling around trying to feel for the entryway and the walls. And it’s scary and creepy. You’ve illuminated their path. You know, you’ve set expectations so they know what is coming down the road. And they did this very, very well. Here’s the other thing. They did very well. Communication was great. I always had somebody if I had an issue or something, I could send a quick email. I got a response back like that on the day of the surgery. I didn’t feel like maybe I did and I was maybe just totally out of it. I didn’t feel like I got any talk time with my doctor afterward, and I wanted to know, like, how did the surgery go? Was it a success? Was it not? And again, they probably told me all of this. I was just out of it. So I got home and I’m sitting on my couch and I’m like, I don’t even know what happened. 

John So I sent an email to my doctor through this portal and I honestly hit Send within 60 seconds, I get a phone call from my doctor, to talk about responsiveness. I ask him the questions. I’m like, How did he go? He tells me when everything happened and it was terrific. So that made me feel really good, that level of communication. So any time somebody is going through something that’s nerve wracking, increase the communication, make sure you or your team are really accessible to them. You know, we talk, you know, in financial services, you have advisors that are moving from one company to another that is really unnerving when they’re making a decision that you may have done 100 times this year. 

John They’ve done it once in 15 years. It’s a whole different level of scariness, right? You know what to expect. They have no idea what to expect. You’ve got to have somebody there that’s really accessible, whether if it’s not you, it’s got to be people on your team that are right there ready to answer questions, right within a quick phone call or walk down the hall, whatever it is or quick text message, something when they feel they’ve got accessibility to somebody who can give me answers, their stress level goes down significantly. That was another takeaway. And that through the whole process over the last three weeks, I’ve had somebody that I can email my physical therapist. She’s great, you know, just very responsive over the weekend, in the evenings, you know. And I had kind of a scary experience. 

John I was a part of up to two weeks in, which was a week ago. I had some events speaking engagements, and conferences in Philly, Pennsylvania. I mean, I’m sorry, Philly and South Jersey. I drove there, which was ten and a half-hour drive, and they had reasons to drive because they had a whole bunch of places that I needed to go to and I wanted to. And that didn’t do very well on my leg and so on. I think it was a week ago tonight. So it was Monday night I was in Philly and my ankle is swelled up like crazy and, my calf is swelled up. I text my physical therapist and she calls me right away within 60 seconds, again, incredibly responsive. And she asked me questions and she said, okay, um, I need you to here’s what I’d recommend. I don’t want to scare you, but I recommend that you go to the emergency room. 

John And here’s the reason why we need to figure out and make sure there’s not a blood clot because some of the symptoms that you’re talking about are indicative of there being a potentially a blood clot, which is not good at all because if it were to break apart and go into your lungs or something like that, it could be catastrophic. And we need to rule that out. Now, I would tell you to go to an urgent care facility, but they’re not equipped. You need an ultrasound to determine if there is a blood clot and the emergency room can be the only place. So you’re out of state. We tell you to come here. You’ve got to find one that’s close to you, and we really urge you to do it now. I will tell you that scared the bejesus out of me. Now, here’s the other problem. They had given me medications to take a lot of painkillers, you know, oxycodone, whatever, and want it. And along with that was aspirin. 

John And what I didn’t either hear or was not told or didn’t understand was the reason for aspirin. Here I am thinking that it was part of the painkiller regimen. So when the pain went away, I stopped taking that. I didn’t take the aspirin anymore. Now, what I didn’t realize or didn’t choose to hear was the fact that the aspirin had an entirely different purpose. The aspirin was specifically to prevent blood clots. And I need to be taking that 30 days for 30 days, literally, not just a week or four days. I think I stopped the pain medication after three days, whatever it was, and I need to be keeping that up. So she asked me on the phone, Have you been taking the aspirin every day? I said, no. And she said You have to. That’s the whole purpose of that. 

John So what I realized at that moment was a couple of things. From a leadership standpoint, she was very responsive, gave me clear directions, didn’t scare me, and didn’t try to scare me, but she did. And let me know how critical the situation was. And but the problem was when you have directions, especially things that are critical to success. In this case, aspirin was taken. Aspirin was critical to my success and my health, not just advised and optional, but really critical. And when you have something like that’s critical as a leader, you have to be ultra clear that the fact that it is critical. Okay. If I senior your knee, which it is is critical. 

John You have to be clear. Do not take a day off of the ice in your knee. Here’s exactly when to do it. 20 minutes, three times a day. I use your knee every single day. Do not stop. You have to emphasize to people what’s optional, what’s advisable, what’s recommended, and what is critical. That’s what went wrong. Okay, now again, maybe I chose not to have it, but you have to realize people in the heat of the moment, they’re not always listening. You have to tell them multiple times in this case. I would have benefited by them being clear or repeating more and multiple times. Hey, you’ve got to take the aspirin every single day. That was missed on me and could have had disastrous results. Now, I went to the emergency room 3 hours later, and checked out, Hey, no blood clots. Everything’s fine. And today, as I sit here a week later, everything’s fine. My swelling has gone down. 

John Obviously, the driving didn’t help that, and that’s what caused it. But everything is great, thank God. Knock on wood, thankfully. So my point is that all along the time, the last three weeks, there were different leadership opportunities. And that was one thing that was really critical that I realized, hey, you know what? As leaders, are we being clear enough with what is absolutely mission critical? Okay. When we have multiple things going on for me, they advise me on a number of things. Hey, here are the exercises you need to do each day. Here are the appointments you need to attend. Here’s the amount of ice you need to have. Here are the medications you need to have. Here’s the amount of rest. Here’s when you need it. 

John Keep it elevated. Got a lot of different things. Now there’s a priority on those, right? If I can elevate my leg as much as they said or do my physical therapy as much as they said, it’s probably not as important as the aspirin. You’ve got to take the aspirin. Right. Because that could be a life or death thing in reality. The other stuff is important, but it’s not the mission. It’s not absolutely ultra-critical. All my life like this one out. That’s neat. So in any event, that’s critical, right? That’s absolutely critical. So as a leader, we have to be really clear on what is critical and guide nonoptional. Here’s the other thing that they did what I didn’t know and I kept asking and they were good about telling me is I didn’t have a measuring stick. 

John And what I mean by that is I didn’t know like, okay, so every time I went into physical therapy, I’m like, okay, where am I relative to where I should be? Am I had a pace on pace behind base and they were good about telling me, Well, you’re ahead of pace here. You’re behind pace here. But I also had to ask that and as a leader, it is critical to let your people know, hey, here’s where you should be a month, then I’m bringing you in. I’m hiring you for this role in three months. Here’s what success looks like to me. And if you don’t know if you’re the person coming in, ask your hiring leader, Hey, what does success look like? Three months and six months in a year, if a year in. You’re ecstatic with what I’ve done. What have I done? What’s happened? That’s a great question to ask. 

John That’s a great question to ask in an interview, by the way, before you’re even offered the job. But these types of things are really critical. You have to have a measuring stick, right? So I wanted to know, like, am I on track? My behind pace. I just had another physical therapy appointment today. Then I asked a question like, Where am I? My head behind. And what if I am ahead or behind? Which areas of my head or behind? And she was great about telling me, but I had to ask. Right. So if I didn’t ask, I wouldn’t know and I wouldn’t know. Hey, I got to work harder on stretching my calf. I got to work harder. You know, I use it more. I’m going to do this because I’m behind. And if I’m behind, I don’t like that. You know, I want to be ahead of pace, not behind at all on track, if not ahead. I want to be on track. So bottom line is that type of measuring stick, have you given your people a clear measuring stick? 

John And if you don’t know or if you think and don’t know, ask them, say, hey, do you have a clear idea of what it looks like to be on track for success? Do you have an idea? Because I don’t want to wait till it’s too late. I don’t want to wait till. Hey, it’s the end of the year. We’re looking at 2022 results and you didn’t hit your goals. And we now look back and reflect on a bad year. Okay. I want to look at it now. Do you have a clearer idea of what activities you need to be doing to get the results? Do you have an idea of where you should be in a month from now on this project that you’re leading? Do you have an idea of what success looks like with X, with Y, with Z? Ask your people and they’ll tell you. And if they tell you and they say yes, then say, okay, great. Just so I’m comfortable that share it with me. What’s your understanding? 

John What does it look like? And you will get incredibly valuable information because more times than not, there’s a gap in that they don’t have an accurate or clear roadmap or measuring stick to be able to benchmark their progress if that makes sense. You know, the nav system on my car is great because it always tells me if my track I know if I’m continuing to go on this path at this speed, I will get to my destination at 440 3pmi could tell if I’m 10 hours away, I still look at that and I can always tell Am I on track or not? If I have to be somewhere by five, I know if I’m on track, if it’s now, say my ETA is 507. 

John I know I got to do some things. I got to make up some time and break some speed limits or whatever, you know, or look at ways and figure out a way around the traffic. I don’t know. I get to figure something out, otherwise, I’m going to be off track. But I’d rather know now than roll in late and be like, Oh geez, I guess I should have made up some time, right? I need a measuring stick. I need to be able to know and benchmark my progress. Okay, that’s absolutely key for leaders. So in any event, I hope my my little legs story and this story helped you in some understanding, some leadership, and some things that can make you a better leader and your team, a better team. 

John That’s what I’m here for. So give me a buzz. Let me now share. Let me hear some of your challenges that you’re having that I can then turn into a podcast episode. How about that? I’ll give you some props if you want to or if you want to just be unanimous. I can say, Hey, I got this idea from somebody. And again, a lot of times I do that don’t even give credit because they’ve said, Hey, here’s just an idea you need to share with with anybody. There’s a situation just here’s or my name here’s a situation that’s fine. That’s awesome. It’s still very, very valuable. 

John So you know what to do as always. Like share, subscribe, go down below, give a five star review and we’ll see you next time. Thanks. 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 at Laurito Group dot com. Once again, that’s John@johnlaurito.com. Thanks, lead on! 

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