As a leader, you may be doing the right things: You’ve hired the right people, developed a well-thought-out strategy, and given your employees the right resources. So, why do you feel out of the loop and unsure of how things are going? In this episode, host John Laurito shares why you feel that way and what you can do to be in the know. Wanting to know how your organization is doing down to the base level is essential for any leader, and there’s no substitute for taking time out to get to know your employees and how they are feeling about their work.
[0:43] What’s going on?
[3:53] You’re getting incorrect data
[7:35] Dive deep into what’s going on at the base level of the organization
John (Intro): 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 worldwide to audiences 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.
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’m John Laurito, your host. I hope you’re having a fantastic May and getting ready for a great summer. Great weather. Sun is shining. I love it. So let’s dive into today’s topic. Today is going to be one of these quick little nuggets you’re going to get. I’ve gotten lots of feedback from you. That’s one of the things you love is five or ten-minute episodes, get your fix, and leave with some actionable items. Today is certainly going to be no different. So let me talk about a topic that came up recently in a conversation. I know this pertains to so many leaders out there. Some of you know it, and some of you don’t know it. And unfortunately for those of you who don’t know it, that’s the whole kind of crux or gist of this whole message is the importance of knowing this. Okay, what am I talking about when I’m talking about understanding really, really, really what is happening in your organization?
John: There was a company I remember years ago. This is actually an international company. It was not based in the U.S., but this was a company that was an insurance company, that had some really unscrupulous things happening in the company. They had their insurance agents figure out kind of a loophole in their compensation system where they would sell life insurance or any kind of insurance policy, collect the first month’s premium, and tell the client that they could take the next two months off. In other words, pay month one, skip months two and three, and then pay month four was kind of a program that they offered. Well, in reality, that wasn’t the case.
John: What the agents figured out was a loophole where if they would have the client pay the first month, they would get paid their commission. The policy would then lapse in month three, but if they paid in month four it would automatically reinstate the policy and generate the commissions all over again. So in other words, they figured out a way to get twice the commission, double their commissions, and save the client, so to speak. Two months a premium. So many problems with this one are the client did not actually have coverage for a period of time. It was absolutely unethical and incorrect information they shared with the client and they were stealing money from the company.
John: So bottom line, major, major problems in all different directions. What happened, though? This was going on for a long, long time now. This was a large company with thousands of agents and employees. This was going on for a long time. Now, it makes you wonder, how does the company not know about that? How how do senior leaders not know
that’s happening when thousands of people are doing this and really manipulating the system for their own benefit? Well, I’ll tell you, there are usually two reasons.
John: One is there’s willful negligence. I mean, there’s truly willful ignorance truly. And I just want to turn a blind eye to a problem. And I know something’s happening, but I don’t really want to know. I don’t want to become aware of it or recognize that I’m aware of it. That’s a major, major problem. I also, though, find that there are leaders that simply don’t really have a pulse on what’s going on. They stay in a certain space that does not allow them to truly understand what’s going on. In other words, they are insulated by their leadership team and they are only soliciting feedback and gaining a pulse of what’s going on in the organization by what these leaders are telling him or her. That’s it.
John: So think about yourself. Who would be basically like you’re the coach of a football team and you are only getting the feedback from your coaches, your offensive coordinator, and defensive coordinator? You’re only getting information as to what’s happening with the team and skills and problems and even sometimes to the extent of not even going to the game and just finding out from these coaches what truly is happening. Instead of actually watching the game and working with the players and talking to the players. I’m not sure if that analogy makes sense, but the bottom line is there are a lot of senior leaders that truly don’t know what’s going on in their organization because they have not taken the time to really dive deep and get an accurate pulse. So what happens?
John: They get their opinion formed based on either incomplete data or inaccurate and incorrect data. So if I’m asking two or three or five or ten people what’s happening in an organization that’s 10,000 people, I’m going to get the perspective of these individuals now if they for whatever reason. Are not comfortable giving me the true scoop and telling me exactly what’s happening. And then I have totally incorrect information. And there are all kinds of different reasons why a leader can breed that mentality. He or she makes it really hard for somebody to give them tough, bad news or bad information. There are negative consequences to doing that. Leaders do that all the time.
John: But I see leaders that it’s almost like, you know, when you’ve taken off in a plane, you’re taken off in bad weather, it’s raining. It’s everything like that. Well, I get excited about the fact that I know once we go above the clouds, however high or low the clouds are, once we get above the clouds, it’s going to actually be sunny. So, I mean, it’s a daytime flight. It’s going to be sunny. The weather’s going to be beautiful because the bad weather now starts with the clouds. It’s once we get above that and we have nice sunny weather and I always look forward to that, I see leaders that are kind of using that analogy above the clouds. They’re in the sunshine. They really haven’t dipped down below the cloud cover to really get a sense of what’s happening. And I see this a lot.
John: I have I’ve talked to many people in different organizations and they’ll tell me, hey, there are these issues or cultural problems or ethical issues going on in an organization. And I say, how how do people not know this is happening? And that’s also the job of that leader there to lead up in the organization. But it always mystifies me, sometimes certain issues. How does the senior leader, how’s the CEO not know this is happening? Well, this is the problem. So my message to you is if you’re gaining your information and you’re trying to understand what’s going on in your organization, I know some of you lead very big
organizations. You lead organizations that are thousands or tens of thousands of people. And sometimes that’s hard to do.
John: You’ve got your team, your squad of people that you’re getting your information from. It could be your head of sales. It could be your CFO, it could be your CEO, it could be the head of compliance. It could be your head of advertising. Whatever the case may be, your CMO, your CIO, and your information are provided by certain individuals. And it’s only as good as the willingness of those individuals to really, truly, number one, understand and dive deep themselves because they may be blind to the problems of the issues in the organization, or they may be aware of it and just not want to give you that information. I was talking to a great leader, a great friend of mine, Brian Chamblee, who’s a senior leader at Farm Bureau, Southern Farm Bureau, a very successful leader leading the state of Louisiana.
John: And he takes the time, even though he’s got a tremendous organization, to dove deep and does skip level type of leadership and meet with agents, for example, which are there are multiple levels and layers in an organization like that’s getting a true sense of what actually is happening in organization that Brian is better equipped to be able to make decisions along with the rest of his leadership team in order based on accurate information because he’s truly getting a pulse of the organization. But that wouldn’t necessarily happen if he didn’t dove deep and spend some time with the people that are really right at the heart of the business, right? Not just the leaders, but really going down to the level of the agents. I find leaders don’t do that enough. There’s a tremendous thing.
John: When I was leading organizations, I found this all the time. If I went down to the base level, whatever that is, if I talked to the advisors and the staff and spend time with them, there were always things that I found out and learned and observed issues, opportunities, problems, weaknesses, threats, whatever that I would not have identified had I not done that. So as a leader, you own this, right? You own the organization and the results of the organization, good or bad, take it upon yourself to get down from being above the clouds and go down below the cloud cover. Truly understand the environment and what’s happening and good, bad and ugly, everything. It’s truly up to you. You have to understand the true scoop.
John: So quick one again today. 5 minutes, 9 minutes, whatever. Little nugget just to get the wheels turning for you. If you’re it’s a Monday and you’re listening to this, which is on Monday, I’m recording this. Hopefully, you can take this and do something this week. Don’t sit on it, but ask yourself, okay, what do I need to do? Who do I need to talk to? How do I need to change my week so that I’m really getting a true pulse of what’s going over going on? When you do that, you will be in a much better position, in a strong position to make the right decision strategically for your organization.
John: So with that said, I hope you have a great day. As always like, share, and subscribe. I always appreciate you. Right. As for future guests and content, please reach out to me to let me know what’s going on in your life and go down below. Give a five-star review and we’ll see you next time. Thanks. Bye.
John (Closing): 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 email@example.com. Thanks! Lead on!