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Chris LoCurto

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February 12, 2013

What You’re Missing By Not Asking

February 12, 2013 | By | 40 Comments">40 Comments

As a leader, I’ve always asked for the opinions of my team members. I learned very early on that God didn’t give me all of the great ideas. That, instead, we’re supposed to all contribute from our wisdom and knowledge.

Question

That’s why I take the opportunity to ask those around me what their thoughts and ideas are.

It’s such a part of me that one day while I was racing, I pulled back into the pits, got out of the car, took my helmet off and said, “Boys, I don’t know how to say it, I know somethings not right and I don’t know what it is.”

At that point one of my mechanics got a big smile on his face and started shaking his head back and forth. I asked him what that was all about and he told me that the mechanics love me because I don’t know it all.

And that in the sport of racing, it’s really hard to find a driver who doesn’t think they know it all. I just shrugged my shoulders and said, “Well…I don’t know how to be any other way.”

If I’m the one with all the answers, then what in the world do I need everyone else around me for? Implementation? And surely, why would I hire people who can’t come up with the ideas that I don’t have?

I look at it this way, smart leaders hire people who are better than they are. Scared leaders hire people who are less than. Click here to Tweet that

If I’ve hired people smarter than me, in the position I hired them for, why wouldn’t I do everything I can to pull that intelligence out of them and insert it into my business?

As a leader, discover the resources and talents you have around you. Then, do everything you can to pull them out and utilize them.

Question: How have you utilized the talent around you? 

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  • http://twitter.com/2ndLeicester Kathy Leicester

    As with so many leadership principles this blog described something very basic. Fundamental. Critically important.

    I know of a boss who takes this principle and twists it so that the employee is called upon to do the boss’s work so the boss can do those things that she considers enjoyable, which typically has nothing to do with what she is responsible for.

    If I had to pick the most common wrong thing those in leadership positions do, it is to twist something good and necessary (e.g., delegation) into a perversion that abuses the employee and deflects criticism from the leader.

    So, as someone who wishes to be a great leader, I have to really watch myself to make sure that, when I work with really smart, experienced people, that I don’t simply dump everything upon them. I need to always stretch myself to learn, to discover what these smart people might do or say. And balance that with running to them shouting “help!” which I have no problem doing.

  • Justin Bloxham

    Chris, we need to find a way to get you out to our track if you like to race! http://www.MillerMotorsportsPark.com You would love it!

  • http://caroldublin.com/ Carol Dublin

    The strongest team of leaders I ever had were all better than me at what I hired them to do and we worked together perfectly. I knew enough to ask the right questions, and we would brainstorm and come up with terrific solutions. Love pulling that talent out. Great post, Chris!

  • http://www.janabotkin.net/ Jana Botkin

    List Lady is back.

    1. Thanks for the book recommendation. I just ordered “Think and Grow Rich” on CD from my library so someone can read to me while I am drawing. But aren’t those the same men who were called the “robber barons”?

    2. Steve Pate, love your story of “hiring” volunteers. It is taking tremendous restraint to not ask Mr. Google about the Tall Timber Ranch right now.

    3. I definitely don’t know much (except how to draw and paint and to teach others the same). That is why I come to CLo and The Little LoCurtos. Thank you for being there.

    4. Ricardo Butler, your prayer gave me goosebumps.

    3. Chris, you called your mechanics “boys”???

    • http://jonahenry.com/ Jon Henry

      From my repository of usually-useless information:

      The term robber baron is inappropriately applied to the early industrialists. Back during the Medieval period, the Holy Roman Emperor was the only person with authority to tax commerce along the Rhine (river). However, some German barons with castles overlooking the Rhine illegally extorted taxes from ships passing by their castles. These barons added no value to the commerce passing along, hence the term “robber baron.”

      Also, folks like Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, Andrew Hopkins, J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, and Charles Schwab were some of the most generous individuals in all modern history. All of them added something to commerce. None of them took anything away from others.

      • http://www.janabotkin.net/ Jana Botkin

        Thank you, Jon! I never was comfortable with that term and I appreciate the explanation. How could anyone who built all those libraries be a “robber”?

    • Steve Pate

      Thanks Jana, I love the flow of your writing.

      • http://www.janabotkin.net/ Jana Botkin

        Thank you, Steve! I didn’t realize a list could flow, but you just made my day!

  • http://www.livebeyondawesome.com/ Jen McDonough “The Iron Jen”

    Empowering post!!!

  • Steve Pate

    Finding Talent? Well I’ve found my self in a position I’ve haven’t been in a long time, at this moment I’ve been assistant-less since September and recently I was told don’t plan on hiring any body and being the camping world, a camp will suck every once of time energy you give it and it can feel like there is no end of work in site.

    Instead of being Eor, and complain to my director, I’ve found this challenge to be riveting. God open my eyes to see a sector of people who are just hungry to serve and do some thing with purpose. So, I’ve been tapping into the “recently” retired people who don’t want to sit in a chair and just die. AKA volunteers, who are a lot older and smarter than me!

    The fun challenge is learning their strengths in a short period of time to best use their talent for the priorities at Tall Timber Ranch. And the coolest thing, is to watch them fall in love with the mission and purpose of the ministry! So, that’s my recent talent findings.

    The picture below is a man who has been retired for 20 plus years and has served as a volunteer for 20 straight summers at TTR. Harry has been a huge mentor to me and he is 89 and still going strong. (picture taken 3 years ago)

  • http://www.facebook.com/douglasbilderback Doug Bilderback

    Question for the group(although a bit off topic, sorry), what do you do with a person who does not grow with the needs of the team/dept/company? You would hire them again for what the position was five years ago, but not now as the needs of the position has changed.

    • http://www.hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Mark Sieverkropp

      Ooooh tough one Doug. I would ask if you have spent the time to develop and grow the team member? Like Chris and Dave say, you, as the leader, are responsible for making your team successful. So question one is, have you done all you can to make him successful?
      If so, then is there anywhere else that he can be moved to that would better fit his skill set?
      Finally, I’d say just prayer, and the golden rule. Treat him as you would like to be treated if the roles were reversed.
      Thats my limited recommendations :)

    • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ Lily Kreitinger

      Evaluate if the gap is due to lack lack of coaching and training, misalignment with their strength areas, lack of clarity on their key areas of responsibility, lack of personal interest in developing themselves, or lack of alignment with the company’s core values. If you find out that this job is not what they absolutely love to do, there are some decisions to make on their end and yours. It’s on the leader to provide the coaching, training, clarity and facilitate their development in the key areas. If it’s more on the side of they just want the paycheck and they hate the job, they need to leave that spot open for someone who would LOVE to do that type of work.

      • http://www.joshuarivers.net/ Joshua Rivers

        Definitely agree. Examine to see who is “at fault,” and then proceed from there. I’d say more, but Lily stole my thoughts and share them first :)

        • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ Lily Kreitinger

          :(

  • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ Lily Kreitinger

    Oh, the good old delegation topic. To me it’s right there with listening. Have a hard time doing both. I want to be intentional in recognizing the strengths of the team I am part of and tap into those to achieve our common goal. I want to “help” others so much and get the obstacles out of their way, that sometimes I keep them from using their strengths to succeed. Definitely another item to put on the “growth area” list. :)

    • http://www.joshuarivers.net/ Joshua Rivers

      Kind of reminds me of the John Maxwell interview – if you find yourself at the head of the class…

  • http://www.hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Mark Sieverkropp

    For awhile I thought I knew everything (I mean, c’mon, we were all teenagers!), but now I probably go the other way too far and think I don’t kow anything. The bad of that is that I have a hard time listing “skills” I have. The good of it is, I am not afraid to ask co-workers, friends, etc for their input.
    I do not always like constructive criticism, but I always ask for it. And then I bite my lip and wait till I get out of sight to start crying. haha, but seriously. I hate receiving criticism, but I know there’s a ton I don’t know, so I bite the bullet and take it.
    Great post Chris! This is something I continue to work on!

    • Laura Johnson

      I apologize for making you cry…

  • Cass Sitterly

    Nice sentiments Chris- echoes your saying about if you hire yes men you can’t be surprised when you fail. Andrew Carnegie didn’t “know” steel- so he hired the best in the industry- surround yourself with greatness, and be humble enough to accept what they can bring to the table. Your respect for them will grow the team and they will follow you into the arena of battle and bring with it their strength and wisdom to bring prosperity to fruition.

    • http://www.hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Mark Sieverkropp

      I’m reading “Think and Grow Rich” right now and I LOVE reading about the intelligence of Andrew Carnegie, JP Morgan, Henry Ford and others. To the letter, they were all men who knew how to find and keep men more knowledgeable and talented than they themselves were–and were wildly successful because of it!

      • Cass Sitterly

        For easier acquisition when you are feeling not as attentive for reading the History channel “The Men Who Built America” has an unique opportunity to highlight the key strengths and traits titans of industry have- if we can indeed learn from history and incorporate their titan qualities with a humanistic side of leaders- we can become a world power again.

      • http://www.robertperinphotography.com/ Robert perin

        Hi Mark and everyone, I just finished “Think and Grow Rich”, and I so agree that they are historic examples of great leaders who surrounded themselves with smart people. I loved the story of Henry Ford’s trial against the newspapers, and how he didn’t need to clutter his mind with general information, and could at any time, summon men to help him with things he didn’t know himself. What a classic book. Hill to me, was the grandfather of modern motivation.

  • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

    I always ask “How can I do that better next time?” This question has taught me so much and helped me to advance in my career path. There is so much experience around me. It would be foolish not to take advantage of it to help me learn and grow.

  • http://www.mattmcwilliams.com/ Matt McWilliams

    Your interaction reminded me of a Mitch Hedberg joke…

    I love it when my car runs out of gas, ’cause I know how to fix that. Anything else and I’m screwed. But if it runs out of gas, I pull out my tool belt…AKA wallet…and fill ‘er up.

    (It’s all in his delivery if that isn’t funny to you)

    Bear Bryant said that if someone wasn’t smarter than him, he didn’t need him. I have tried to live by that since hearing it.

    I have a guy who works for me now who is brilliant. He is better at my job than I am. I just happened to start sooner, make better friends, and get the awards, but this guy is five years ahead of where I was at his experience level.

    I am not intimidated by him at all. I know he won’t last long. Before too long, he will move on. Good for him!

    But for the meantime, I am learning from him, teaching him some things too, using his skills to my advantage, and benefiting financially from his efforts.

    In my role as a consultant, my first priority in business is to my clients and he is good for them. That is good leadership.

    • http://www.hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Mark Sieverkropp

      Ahhh, so that’s why I don’t work for you…you’re calling me stupid!! haha ;)

    • http://twitter.com/CabinetDoork Jeremy Carver

      Extra points for calling upon the wisdom of the Bear. Even Tennessee boys can learn from Alabama Football.

      • http://www.mattmcwilliams.com/ Matt McWilliams

        No kidding. Last month I wrote a post praising them, this month I quote Bear Bryant.

        I think General Neyland just rolled over in his grave.

        • http://twitter.com/CabinetDoork Jeremy Carver

          Matt, appreciation is not mutually exclusive… I’m sure Neyland would agree.

      • http://jonahenry.com/ Jon Henry

        All the lessons I learned from Bear Bryant were from his time at Kentucky. Otherwise, I’d agree.

        • http://twitter.com/CabinetDoork Jeremy Carver

          Preaching to the choir John. I may live in Alabama, but I was born in Kentucky!

      • http://caroldublin.com/ Carol Dublin

        Absolutely! Can’t go wrong with the Bear! (this from a hardcore Bama girl)

        • http://twitter.com/CabinetDoork Jeremy Carver

          I knew you could get on board, Carol!

  • http://twitter.com/CabinetDoork Jeremy Carver

    Truth, Chris. Leaders, we’ve gotta get this one right! Don’t miss this one! Your team is going to come to you for solutions… The temptation is to roll with it. Don’t. They deserve better than you fixing everything. And you deserve better than them letting you. This is pivotal!

    • http://www.joshuarivers.net/ Joshua Rivers

      Have them leave with the monkey they brought in!

  • http://www.joshuarivers.net/ Joshua Rivers

    I haven’t always been the best at this. I was always the know-it-all (my wife would probably say I still am :). There was no need to ask. I tell my kids that I know everything – and what I don’t know, Mommy knows (they’re 3 and 6, and they don’t even buy it!).

    I’ve had admit that I don’t know everything. I need to listen to others. Even harder, I need to ask for their help or opinion. As I’ve started to do this, it has improved my marriage (which I think was awesome before). It has built trust and cultivated more open and honest communication.

  • http://www.kentlapp.com/ Kent Lapp

    Excellent reminder Chris, thank you.

    Particularly like the thought that if we knew everything we wouldn’t need teams around us.

    I’m at Hyatt’s Platform Conference this week, was hoping to see you there! :)

    • http://www.joshuarivers.net/ Joshua Rivers

      Wish I could be at that conference … well, there’s a lot of conferences I wish I could go to :) I saw some of the tweets from it last night. Hope you enjoy it!

      • http://www.kentlapp.com/ Kent Lapp

        Thanks Josh, it’s real good. Hopefully you can go sometime!

  • http://www.ricardoequips.com/ Ricardo Butler

    You know I don’t have any thing to really say concerning this post. It’s just good to see you back writing, leading and serving people with your blog. I pray that you receive from God what you desire, ask, and step out in faith to receive in Jesus’ name by the power of the Spirit of God. Amen! Christ bless you and your family!