How do bad leaders treat their people? How do good leaders treat theirs? How about great leaders going through a slump in their business? How do they treat their people? In this episode, host John Laurito talks about the difference between a bad leader and a good leader who’s having a bad year in business, how the business owner should identify these kinds of leaders, and what kind of approach they should use that’s beneficial to their company.
[3:56] What’s your leadership style?
[8:26] Don’t be too quick to write a person off
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 leader so good? Welcome to tomorrow’s leader!
John All right, welcome to today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader, where we dove deep on all things leader related related to leaving yourself and leading others, I’m your host. So I want to share with you a story. I had heard this recently and talking with a leader and this leader, I wanted to kind of set the stage for you. This is a leader who has had great success, one of these leaders that is perennially above everybody else, top of the charts, getting results, big impact, a player of an organization. He’s been part of this organization for well over a decade, large company.
John And part of what I want to talk about today is when you have a great leader who has historically been a great performer, that’s not performing well right now, whether this is a leader or just anybody in any role where there have been a long time, very positive, consistent contributor and recently their performance has not matched what they’ve done in the past. And how is a leader? Do you actually handle that? How do you treat that person? Well, I’ll give you an idea of what not to do. So this had been a leader again made massive contributions to this organization, and part of this company’s culture was a lot of recognition.
John They had a recognition trip that they would award their people with once a quarter, and it was a nice privilege where the leader would get to go and then his or her people would go. It was really there, his or her people that had to qualify for the trip. And then this vice president, this leader would attend, as would other ones to kind of host and whatnot, but it was still something you had to qualify for. So this leader who again for years had been a top performer this year recently has not been performing to his own admission, has not been performing to the way that he has been used to performing. Now various reasons for that.
John But it certainly wasn’t because of lack of effort or lack of intention or desire or anything like that. Nevertheless, the quarterly conference came up. This leader did not have any of his people qualified to go to the conference. Not totally unusual. The goal was to at least have somebody there, but there were some quarters where leaders just did not have someone there. They would still go because they were representing the company. So this leader, this vice president, went attended and his leader had said his regional VP or senior VP had said, Yes, I want you to attend. This individual attended showed up. And as soon as he got there, his boss called them in and said, Listen, I want you to understand that your performance is unacceptable, and I wanted this to create some pain for you.
John So this is the end of your trip, the end of your meeting and when you go back, turn around and go home. Really? OK. So when he left, he went home. He called his wife as he was leaving the building. His wife was furious and said, Why don’t you turn around, go back in and just quit? Honestly, he didn’t because he has two young kids at home, and this just was not. That was not the right decision he felt at that point. But the bottom line is he’s leaving that organization. There’s no question about it. And his conversation was all about, OK, what’s my next step going to be now? He’s going to go somewhere else and contribute in a massive way. I have no doubt about that, and he’ll he’ll land on his feet and find a better and bigger opportunity.
John But what I think about is what was that person thinking leaders? Ultimately, there’s a difference between a great leader who’s having a bad year and a bad leader. So if you treat that person that’s had a great number of years, been a solid contributor, like a bad leader because they’re in bad times. Ultimately, that’s not going to that’s not going to turn that person around in this case, that’s going to drive that person out of the organization. I see leaders sometimes do this. There’s a very big difference now. It’s almost like you’ve got you run a baseball team and you’ve got your star hitter who’s been batting 400, let’s say consistently just outstanding hitter 400.
John He is like one of your top or she is one of your top. And then this season, maybe for the last month or two months, they’ve been in a slump and they’re hitting 200. OK, well, do you treat them as though they are? Don’t have the potential to be the 400 hitter? Or do you treat them as though the best that they’re doing is what you see right now? Or that they’ve made a decision that they only want to hit two hundred, that they actually don’t have any desire to get back up there to hit 400? I mean, do you treat them like they are not showing up to practice when they are? Do you treat them like they’re not wanting the team to win when they are?
John Do you treat them like they’re not a positive? Influence on a positive contributor when they are in many other areas and they have been for years now, because when that happens, then ultimately that person just does not belong. There’s no way that that person wants to stay as part of that organization. Now, if that’s your intent and you’re trying to push that person out great by all means, then I think there’s better ways to do it. But if your intent is to try to spark some level of, you know, energy in that person to turn things around and suddenly get this person thinking, Wow, you know what? I haven’t been working.
John I haven’t put the pedal to the metal. I’m now because of this going to change my mind. I might do it. I think you’re missing the boat now. I’m not going to say that sometimes that’s not. The reason for performance problems is because the person has taken their eye off the ball. That happens without a doubt. But when you treat your leaders as though they are the person that is having the slump right, then you’re locking them into that slump and you’re kicking them off the team, so to speak, or you’re getting them wanting to get off the team versus working with them with a different style of leadership to get them back to where they were in their peak performance.
John And when you’ve done that, and if you figured out how to do that, that’s when you keep somebody for life because it’s easy to keep somebody at that 400 level or keep them at the top leader or top salesperson level. But it’s really hard. As a leader, it’s the biggest challenge to turn somebody around, somebody who’s been at the top who’s dipped and helped them turn back around, or somebody who’s never really been at the top and you lead them and help influence them to become at the top. That’s true leadership, helping somebody do something that they wouldn’t have been able to do without your help. So if you think about just the styles of leadership, if I’ve got a top performer that knows exactly what they need to do and how to do it, then really the style I’m doing is delegating. I’m empowering them, I’m giving them authority, I’m giving them a challenge.
John And hey, here’s what you need to do. Here’s the mission Go do it. If somebody is not at that level, then I’m either coaching or supporting, which is two different styles, but it’s a little more relationship based. It’s a little more hands-on. It’s helping ask questions or it’s asking questions to help them come to the conclusions of what needs to change, what support they need. It’s you as the leader looking close, observing them and figuring out and working with them, partnering with them to help them identify what are the things that they need to do to help turn this around. In this case, this was a leader that really was very capable and had performed so well for so long.
John And unfortunately, his boss treated him as though he was willingly sabotaging his own efforts and just willingly not contributing and not performing at the high level that just was not happening. That wasn’t the case. This leader just was hit in a rough spot and needed someone to put his arm around him and say, Listen, let’s figure this out together. I want to team you with this other leader who’s really having success right now, or I want to observe you in action a little bit. Or have you observed this other person? I guarantee the answer was in there. And now, unfortunately, it’s going to go somewhere else and contribute those top level eight player results with another organization. So I thought that was worth sharing because I think sometimes leaders forget again, there’s a difference between a great leader who’s having a bad year or bad month. And I get it with especially public companies.
John You’ve got, you know, quarterly earnings estimates are trying to meet or exceed. You’ve got all kinds of pressure and short term results are very, very important. But you have to be able to differentiate the people that might not be delivering short term but have the potential to deliver significantly over the long term and have don’t be too quick to write that person off, because when you do that, unfortunately, you’re making a long term decision based on short term stuff, whether you realize it or not and you’re sealing your fate, potentially you lose too many great leaders like that, and great leaders are hard to find. So keep them when you’ve got them, work with them, develop them, help them turn around and you.
John When you do that, you will have them forever, and they will then do the same thing for the people that they’re leading. So try adapting to the style coaching supporting. In some cases, being more being more directive, but certainly not just shrugging your shoulders and assuming the person just doesn’t care anymore. Not the case. Absolutely not the case for a vast, vast, vast majority of the people that that might be struggling. So without any further do I figure that might be a good message for today? Get the wheels, turn a little bit. Think whether that’s somebody you know, somebody you’re working with, somebody you see from afar, somebody who’s working for you, whether it’s you.
John Hopefully there’s something in there that you can take and do something with. So make sure you go down below. Give five star reviews, share like, subscribe all that kind of good stuff. I appreciate you greatly. Very much so for tuning in every single week or every day whenever these come out. And being a faithful listener and again, let me know of ideas, suggestions for future topics that’s meaningful to me and I will make some great content around it. Thanks, everybody. Have a good one.
John Thanks for joining us and 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!