223 - One Easy Way to Develop Your Top People - John Laurito

223 – One Easy Way to Develop Your Top People

Some leaders often have a difficult time letting go of authority or their sense of control on even the smallest part of their business. Ultimately, this results in a complicated and time-consuming process that no one will appreciate. In today’s episode, host John Laurito shares a way to look for and develop your top people. Hence, it enables you to see the people you can trust and, at the same time, allow you to let go of some of the responsibilities your position bears as a leader.

[0:00] Intro

[0:37] Storytime!

[3:33] Smart leaders give their top people authority

[4:33] Look at it from a follower’s standpoint

[10:26] As a leader, look for your top people and give them confidence

[14:39] Outro

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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 Loretto and I’m your host. I invite you to join me on this journey as we explore this topic. What makes the best leader 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 on this, uh, rainy kind of dreary day, but that’s OK today. Maybe when you’re listening to it, it’s beautiful out. Hopefully, it’s 70, sunny, you’re in shorts, and it’s December. So I don’t know how many of you were in band as a kid, I was, and I was proud of it. I got to tell you, I love music, playing music I loved, and I played the sax for six years. And one of the biggest regrets I have is that I gave it up. 

John I really, really wish I had not because this was when I was between, I think third grade and like seventh grade or something, second grade in seventh grade. I don’t know what it was, but I was when I was like in elementary school until I got to MIT. What do you call that junior high? And I still played and then I gave it up right before high school, but I got really, really good at it and I loved it. And then I just stopped loving it. For whatever reason, I just felt like I wasn’t challenged or I wasn’t playing music that I liked, but all stuff that actually applies to leadership. But I do remember this one time where I was playing in the band and I was good. I was one of the best, I think in the band. I’m not being egotistical, but I was pretty good. I knew new music and I knew how to play, and my orchestra instructor band instructor came to me one day said, Listen, I want you to lead band practice today. I actually want you to take the, you know, take the leadership role and want you to lead band practice today. And I got confidence in you and I just want to see how you do with it. I’m like, Really? Wow, that’s kind of neat. 

John So I did, and it was weird, you know, we kind of struggled through it, but it was really cool to get that opportunity to run band practice. And I remember the feeling that they gave me at that time was, Wow, that’s kind of need that I get an opportunity to do something that nobody else gets a chance to do. I guess my band, my leader, my conductor feels like I’m one of the best, one of the best, or the best. In any event, it was a really cool deposit in the emotional bank account, and it actually got me re-engaged because it was a point where I was starting to – and maybe he saw it. Maybe he saw that I was starting to, you know, check out a little bit and lose interest because it was right around that time where I just kind of felt like I want to get into sports and stuff like that. So maybe it was his intent that he wanted to get me re-engaged. Maybe he just wanted to recognize me. Reward me. Maybe he just wanted the day off. I don’t know. I mean, he was there. He watched me do it. But I remember feeling like this whole surge of excitement. I’m like, Wow, this is really cool. And you know, my friends in the band were like, Well, you do a good job. And some of them were like, Oh, you kind of sucked whatever. Didn’t matter. I got to do something that nobody else got to do, and it was a great example of leadership that my conductor, whether he realized it or not, displayed that day. 

John I don’t think I realized it. I didn’t know what leadership was. I had no idea. But here he did something that executives, smart leaders, smart CEOs, smart business owners do with their top people. They let them do things that other people don’t do. They give them authority or power or ownership on something that others don’t have. And that’s a great thing you can do for your top people. It’s not only a great thing, it’s a necessary thing. Now I know there are some times, and I’ll give you an example. There’s a lot of leaders that have great intentions. They want to be very hands-on, and they look at being a hands-on leader as being a great thing. Hey, I’m really involved in the business. I know every part of the business. I’m touching every part of the business, everything kind of flows through me. You’ve heard me talk a lot on this podcast about the fact that what that does more times than that is it slows down an organization. 

John I’m not saying there’s not times to be hands-on, but there’s a balance. I’ve seen leaders that do this way too much, and I’ll give you an example, and I’ll tell you from the follower standpoint. So I was working at Ameriprise, running a region in D.C., so I was overseeing… I forget what it was, maybe 150 or 200 people at that time, and I had seven branch managers underneath of me. So each branch manager ran an office. I ran D.C., Virginia, Maryland, and each of these branch managers was tasked with recruiting people to the organization. That was a really important role that that branch manager had. It was an important role that as a regional VP that I oversaw and I also had as well. And we typically were bringing on. Variance advisers that were in the business for 10, 15, 20 years. We had a small allotment, I guess you call it, of the ability to hire novice advisers. We had, you know, maybe 20 percent of our advisors or so that we’d recruit each year would be inexperienced advisors coming from another field. 

John Now, it wasn’t like we’re paying them a lot of money. I mean, it was a little bit of a stipend and it was mostly commission. The experienced advisors, we were paying them a lot of money because it was paying them to bring over their book of business, and that’s very common in the investment world. But these inexperienced advisors, it really wasn’t that much on the line. In reality, you know, and the success rate is really hit or miss. It’s really tough business coming out into the business in any event. I’d been in the business for 20 years. At that point, I’ve hired countless hundreds and hundreds of advisors through that period of time, if not thousands. So I certainly knew what to look for. My branch managers, I had 100 percent confidence in because they themselves were advisors and leaders for many, many years. They knew it inside and out. They knew how to look for and hire these types of advisors. 

John So what we did was there was a process or an interview process, and in bringing this person on, the branch manager had to approve it. I had to approve it as well, which I felt was needed. This was somebody in my region, so I needed to and wanted to look at this person. But to be honest with you, I probably didn’t. For my best branch managers, I look back and there were several of them that I had full confidence in. They had a great track record. I didn’t really need to be involved in that at all. But it was expected that I was involved and it was really kind of dictated down that, listen, this person does not get an offer unless the VP has met with them. OK. 

John All right. I get it. You know, that’s that is what it is now. I was an officer of the company at this point of this multibillion-dollar organization. And so I get it, OK? I’m interviewing them. But the next part of it was after I okayed them and my branch manager okayed them. Then they had to go to an interview with my boss, who was a leader of the whole country. So here was the senior VP, and I know his intent was very good. He wanted to be hands-on, but here’s what this did. One is once I approved it. Now, this person coming in with no experience in the industry got the green light, got the thumbs up from my branch manager. I interviewed him or her, get the thumbs up from me. And then they had the interview with the senior VP that ran the whole country. And what it did was a few things. Now I was one of the top RVPs at that time. We had a really strong momentum, positive year, and it wasn’t even the number one, two, three in the country. Didn’t matter where you stood, you were still expected to have this senior VP interview, people. So it wasn’t like it was just for certain RVP’s, it was for everybody. 

John Now what it did was it took that senior VP’s time. A lot of time. I mean, it wasn’t like a small group. This was all across the country, so it was a big time-suck on his part. What it did was it slowed the process down big time because now this extra step and coordinating and getting it on his schedule was really not easy to do. More importantly, it sent a really clear, strong negative message to me. Now, regardless of whether I could say, Yeah, you know what? Everybody’s got the other two, it’s still told me that he didn’t have confidence in my ability to make a decision or the other VP’s across the country who had been doing it, most of them longer than I had been doing it. Why? And then the other thing it did was that it sent a negative message to the recruit coming in because I have to think if I was coming into an organization, I have to assume that the people that I’m interviewing first if it’s got to go all the way up to the senior VP, I kind of be scratching my head to say, Well, how come the RVP can’t make a decision to hire me or this branch manager? Who am I actually working for? Am I working for the senior VP? Is that the person that I’m reporting to when I come in? Not the case, but that’s the message that it sends. 

John Bottom line is, it really just sent a very unintentional negative message. It was demoralizing. It made that recruit question, you know, who’s really got the authority? Again, it slowed the process down, which in recruiting speed has a lot to do with it because you’re it’s competitive, you’ve got other firms that are trying to recruit these people. It took more time on the SVP’s plate. I don’t know how many hours a month he had to do this, but it was a lot. A lot. A significant amount of things that time he could have been spending doing other things that were more productive, this was a really low-level task. And then, of course, it sent the message that he just didn’t trust my judgment. So here’s an easy thing you can do as leaders and you can see and connect the dots here to understand when a leader. If that senior VP had said, Listen, I’ve got confidence in you. I trust your decision-making. Don’t worry about it anymore. You don’t have to have you. Just if you want to hire this person, go for it. What that would have done is send a really positive, all the opposite to what I just said. It would have sent a really positive message to me. 

So as a leader, look for your top people, look for ways in which you can do this. I don’t care what it is. I mean, have your top player coach practice one day. Here’s what it should go with. It should go with Hey Sarah, I’ve got a lot of confidence in you. You have demonstrated just a great skill set. I have total faith in you. I want you to run practice. I know it’s going to be a great practice. Probably gonna be better than any of the ones that I lead. Wow, what a powerful message, right? Sarah is going to feel great about that. Be motivated and that’s going to really recharge her battery if she happens to be, you know, running a little low. You know, Hey, listen, Jim, I trust your opinion. You don’t need my approval on this expense category anymore. I trust your judgment. If you think it makes sense. Go for it. Wow, Jim’s going to be totally fired up. Hey, listen, Kelly, you’ve done a great job. I got total confidence in you. Why don’t you take the lead on this project? I don’t need to be there. You don’t need me there. Just check in with me once a week or whatever. Just give me a status update on it. But you run with it, and I got total confidence that it’s going to get done the right way. 

What a powerful message. I mean, there’s all kinds of ways that you can do this. Listen, Bill, you can formulate the offer for anybody we’re bringing on. You don’t need my opinion. If you want my opinion, great, but I trust you. Totally. That’s fine. Go for it. All this stuff is really going to make put huge deposits in the emotional bank account with your people. Look for ways you can do this with your kids as parents. I mean, honestly, if you’ve been taking care of something, give them something that they can do, and it doesn’t have to be a chore. But if you give them an allowance or whatnot or you know you do something financially with them or you’ve been investing for them, give that money and let them choose an investment. Hey, listen, you know what? You pick something out that you think makes sense. 

One of the greatest things you can do, I think as a parent. I think one of the greatest things as a kid, is when you finally let the kids stay by themselves without a babysitter. Wow, what a cool thing. I mean, I remember that and it was like, OK, my parents really trust me. OK, I’m an adult. More times than not, that’s going to result very, very positively in just building their confidence, the trust that you have in them, little things like that. So whatever your role doesn’t matter if you’re a formal leader or not, you can do this with people in your life to just put confidence, infuse confidence in them, show them that you trust them, give them an opportunity to succeed, give them an opportunity, take the training wheels off, so to speak. Give them an opportunity to do it on their own without your involvement there, and you will see this person grow and they will be unbelievably thankful to you. 

So in any event, a couple of stories to illustrate the point, but this is something that is so important. So leaders pay attention to this. Just look today, is there something that you can do like this to reward, to recognize your top people or top person? Do it with a few people, whatever, but take a step. Think about it today. What’s one thing you can do in this area? Something that you’ve been requiring them to do that they don’t have to anymore. 

So in any event, I hope this helps. As always, I appreciate you listening. I appreciate your ideas. Again, many of the ideas I get from you, things that you might have on your mind questions. Hey, I was in this situation? How would you handle this? Whatever the case is, I’ll bring it here. We’ll do a podcast and I’ll give you some recognition on it. And as always, I appreciate the likes, the subscribes, the shares, all that kind of stuff and go down below. Give a five-star review and I will see you next time. Thanks, everybody. 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 John@Johnlaurito.com. Once again, that’s John@johnlaurito.com. Thanks, Lead On. 

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