418 | Reverse Engineering Your Business Growth

Are you ready for reverse engineering your business growth?

Here’s the deal: growing your team = growing your business. If you don’t stretch the potential, capacity, and output of those who work directly for you, then you may not be ready for the more  traditional “revenue related” growth that most leaders are searching for. Let me share a trade secret that I’ve learned after decades of leading people. 

I want to see business owners and leaders go to the next level. But, here’s the deal, you’ll never get to a higher level without strategically focusing on the growth of others. Let’s walk through his process together and discover how to Reverse Engineer Your Business Growth!

What comes to mind when you think about growing your business? 

If you’re like most owners or leaders, then you might think in terms of strategies for increasing revenue, increasing your reach through innovative marketing, or restructuring for increased scalability. Those are great things to think about, but you may be overlooking your most valuable asset: your people.

For me, it all started by looking at my leaders and saying, “If I don’t do something to grow you, then you’ll stay exactly where you are.” And that wasn’t acceptable. So then, I started growing people strategically, and by growing people I was able to step out of my day to day and into a higher level of leadership. That’s when real growth started to occur!



leader, business, people, grow, identity, leadership, question, lead, aaron, business owner, capacity, team members, chris, iacocca, money, role, answer, magic pill, problems, worth


Joel Fortner, Brian A, Chris LoCurto


Chris LoCurto  00:00

We take a reverse engineering approach to your business growth, that is coming up next.


Chris LoCurto  00:16

Welcome to the Chris LoCurto show, where we discuss leadership and life, and discover that business is what you do, not who you are. Welcome to the show folks. Leaders and business owners, today, we're going to talk about how you are limiting yourself. How you're limiting your business growth, how you're limiting your leadership. So today's episode, we're going to be focusing on how you might be-oh, come on, let's be honest-how you are the lid to the capacity of those you lead. Now, this is not-this isn't going to be a beating you over the head of how terrible you are, you know, that's not what we do. But this is pointing out something that's very important. You may be the lid to those that you're leading, you may be the lid to their capacity as leaders, you may be the lid to the growth of the business. So doesn't matter if you're a leader or a business owner, this applies to you, if you've got leaders under you, this is going to apply to all of you who plan to someday have leaders under you. So we're digging into the concept behind the idea of having leadership teams. And that's when we're going to tackle the question behind the question, so to speak. Thank you, john Miller for QBQ. So we're gonna be hitting that when we come back right after this.


Joel Fortner  01:43

Hey, leaders, this is Joel fortner, VP of leadership development at Chris Locurto's company. I have some questions for you: Do you as a leader feel like you are caught up in a crazy cycle of stress and tasks that never ends week to week? Do you ever have to deal with tough conversations with team members, and you sit at home the next day, the night before, worried about how's it going to go, what am I going to say, what are they going to say, can I think fast enough on my feet, is it going to be a total failure? Are you experiencing culture problems or that stuff that just breaks down trust in unity on your team? Well, if you can relate to any of this, this is a pretty typical leadership story and situation. Here's the thing though, it doesn't have to be that way. And we can help you solve these things, we can help you become the leader that solves these problems and leads their team to greater success. I want to introduce you to the Key Leaders Program. This is an ongoing leadership development program that gives you the lesson track, coaching, and accountability you need to become the leader you can become to actually implement what you're actually learning in this program. Things fall apart without great leadership and intentionality. If you want to solve the problems that are holding you back from being a great leader, we can help you with this program, get in touch with Joel at chrislocurto.com.


Chris LoCurto  03:09

Alright, so to help us get down to the nuts and bolts. I've got one of our team members back on the show with me, Brian Alex, welcome to the show. What's up, brother?


Brian A  03:17

I am happy to be here. How's that for an opening?


Chris LoCurto  03:24

That's a fantastic opening. So today, we're talking about this kind of leadership issue where we're holding back the capacity of our leaders. And you got a lot of questions for me. This is one of those where, and again, I love the curiosity that you have on the subjects to be able to ask-


Brian A  03:44

It's just ignorance. Pure, unadulterated ignorance.


Chris LoCurto  03:48

Which is great. The difference is-because we all have that, right? The differences is when we apply it with the curiosity side, we actually seek perspective and that's our goal today, is to help you guys get great perspective on how you're holding back your team. I don't care if you lead one person or two people, right? So you might be a leader under leaders under leaders. This applies to you. So, hit me.


Brian A  04:14

Yeah. So being back here at the Poimen Group, I took a hiatus for many years, came back around, but was delighted that in sticking with your character, and where you've been driving for years, your focus is not on growing the bottom line. And and you say that often in some of our our team meetings when we get together. You'll point to; look if if we had been after just driving profits, we could have made certain decisions along the way to be far beyond where we are today. But that is not what we're about. That's not our mission. And that's not you, as a leader and so the focus really has not been driving that bottom line and growing numerically in the business, but rather it's been on growing the people that we have here. So kind of the itch that we want to scratch today is, "Okay, Chris, but how do I do that?" If I'm a leader, there are so many things that go through my head that keep me back from really pouring into the leaders around us. And we've talked about growing leadership teams, we've got an entire series, if you want to go back and look at it, it's called, "An Inside Look", episodes 387, 388, and 396. And all we do is talk about growing our leadership team, growing the leaders around us. But I think what we want to dig past today is what is underneath that layer? Let's go down a level, dig a little deeper, and hit the motivation for first of all, why does that work? How does that approach even, you know, justify itself?


Chris LoCurto  06:00

Yeah. So what we always say here is that profit is not our number one motivator. Now profit is definitely-so don't hear us incorrectly-profit's definitely a motivator, but it's at best-


Brian A  06:13

You gotta pay your people.


Chris LoCurto  06:14

That's right, there's no way I'm going to operate-


Brian A  06:17

Me being one of those people.


Chris LoCurto  06:19

Wait, am I paying you? Shoot. I thought it  was just good food and wine.


Brian A  06:23

I gotta talk to HR. Wait a second, I am HR.


Chris LoCurto  06:26

Wait a second! So here's the deal. There's no way I'm operating a business that's not going to be profitable. That's just a waste of time. It's not worth it, you know,-


Brian A  06:36

It's not sustainable.


Chris LoCurto  06:37

It's not sustainable. However, I spent a decent amount of my time going after money. Money was a high priority. God shifted me many years ago, and changed my priorities. So here, what I always say is God is our number one motivating factor. Changing lives is number two, whether that's inside or outside, internally or externally, changing lives is a number two motivating factor. Profit is at best our number three motivating factor. So, do we want to have money? Of course we do. Now, is that the same thing that I teach our clients? Nope. If our clients want profit to be their number one thing, I'm going to help them to have the best business they possibly can. I just don't do it by giving them a magic pill for the numbers. Instead, I help them to lead people incredibly well. If they happen to be a company that also focuses on God, praise God, hallelujah, we're going to talk about that, too. So it all depends on what they're looking for. But there's never a time that clients come to us and go, "Give us a magic pill, we want to make more money." Because they already know, Chris isn't going to do that. I just spoke about myself in the third person there. "Listen, Chris ain't gonna do that." I don't know why I just want really redneck with that one. But, so the thing is, is that I'm always gonna teach them it's not the money-finding money is not difficult. That's not the hard part. It's discovering all the things that are holding you back and fixing those things. And most of those, 90% or more, is actually people problems. We just don't know it, you know, a huge part of that is communication. A huge part of that is accountability. A huge part of that is culture. These are important things that if we fix these things, then the money that we can get is actually able to stay with us. We can grow with that money, we can do more things.


Brian A  06:51

So is that even on the radar though, for most businesses that come through here? You know, are they looking at, you know, okay, we want to we want to, you know, exponentially increase our bottom line. But really, Chris, before we get there, help us grow our leaders. Is that even an agenda for most business owners and leaders?


Chris LoCurto  08:55

That's a great question. For the bulk of them, they've been listening, following, have been clients for a long enough time, they've come to Next Level Leadership Live Event. They're in Next Level Mastermind. They've done something with us enough to go, "Oh, my gosh, this dude's approach is so different than everybody else is out there. They're all trying to sell the magic pill. He's actually going after the thing that's keeping us from having the money, right, that's keeping us from keeping the money." And so that becomes an important thing to them, where they're like, "I don't have the answers, but I want to come find out the answers." They still want a great bottom line. Every now and then we'll get somebody who will come through who's really focused on the money. But the great thing is by the time they're frustrated, being focused on the money, I go back and point out, "See this thing here? What if we fix that?" "Oh, yeah, that's a lot of money." "How about these things?" "Oh, that's a lot of money." I mean, it happens probably one out of every 10 StratPlans, I'll experience that, where somebody's like, "But what about the money?" And then I just show them the different pieces like you're good, keep going. You know, I mean, it's just you know, but for the most part, we have a lot of folks that come through that are like, I know that there's problems with communication. I just don't know what, I don't know what to do with it. So let's get after it.


Brian A  10:11

It seems like some of that could be similar to the home, I would assume and correct me or adjust this, but the majority of business owners out there are probably male.


Chris LoCurto  10:24

Wow, that's, I don't actually know that answer. I know, of our clients, the majority are male.


Chris LoCurto  10:31

Okay, so let's say at least half, probably more than half just to be very modest. Here's where I'm going with that. I know for myself, and I can't speak as a female, and I'm not a business owner. But I know in the home, it's easy for us guys, and talking, you know, away from business to have this mindset of, "Well, I'm out there working hard. And I'm out there bringing home the the money, and I'm out there, you know, as the the number one breadwinner, whatever. And that's my role. And that's how I serve the family. That's how I minister to the family." And I wonder if some of that's true. Just trying to get at this mindset for the business owner and leader. If they're thinking "Well, I got to grow the business, I got to increase the numbers, I got to get more profitable, because that's how I serve my employees." And there's kind of this justification that goes on. But unwittingly, a lot of times, us guys, we shoot ourselves in the foot because we ruin the relationships in our home, because we've been out there busting it. And we think we're gonna come home and be appreciated. And we find out that our relationships are wrecks, because we haven't spent time investing in the people around us. And so does that same phenomenon happen, then in the business side of that equation, especially where us guys are concerned?


Chris LoCurto  11:50

Yeah, so I see where you're going with that. So for the guys. So women still struggle with this same concept, just not as much, their their struggle is in a different area. For men, there is a huge struggle with our identity of being a leader or being a business owner.


Brian A  12:15



Chris LoCurto  12:16

And by that, what I'm saying is, and especially the older generations, we're not seeing this, we're not seeing it as much with the younger generations, but especially the older generations, where they've been trained; your worth to your family is putting food on the table.


Chris LoCurto  12:32



Chris LoCurto  12:33

Your worth to your family is building, you know, making sure they have a big house, making sure you know, they've got whatever, right? So when you look at that, I see where you're going with that, yeah, we see that identity being a struggle.


Brian A  12:45

Well I didn't see that modeled in my own home. And so that was difficult, you know, as a paradigm to emulate in my family's home, you know, if you're struggling for that model, then it's difficult to understand your role and your identity is shifting a lot of times within that, but I'm just kind of teasing out this idea. And maybe it happens in the home as well as the business is the point, that we can be so focused on the the function that we have of what our worth is to the family, that we don't spend a lot of time pouring into the family but and and just again watching you here, and not to blow smoke up your skirt, because you're wearing pants today, but to say that again here, you know, you constantly come away from the idea of, you know, we're driving profits and profitability for the company. You're driving people. You're growing people. You want to see their capacity increase, because only in their increasing capacity does your capacity increase as a leader.


Chris LoCurto  13:56

Yeah. So. Okay, so lots to hit there. One of the tough things and one of the messages we want to share with leaders and business owners is because they're stuck with their identity being in the role that they're in, guys, gals, doesn't matter who they are, right? But if your identity is in being a leader, if your identity is in being a business owner, whichever it is, then what happens is that you get stuck in being emotionally handcuffed to that being your identity. I am a business owner of four businesses. That's not my identity. I am a child of God. I am a citizen of heaven. I am a husband, I am a dad. I am a friend. I am a you know, business owner. It's one of the pieces but my identity, always, first is that God is my father. I'm his son.


Brian A  14:59

And it sounds like you're emphasizing relationships over the role, you mentioned, you're a son, you're also a husband. And you're, you know, you have friends, you know, where where you are relationally helps to locate you. And that should also immediately help us to go to, then that should be my investment also.


Chris LoCurto  15:24

Yes. So technically, yes. Right? Because what I believe is, is God needs to be the most important thing in your life period.


Brian A  15:32

So you need to be investing in that relationship above all others. And then based on that priority hierarchy, you come down a notch, and there's beautiful Heather, and she becomes that second most invested piece that you have, and flowing from that we begin to see order come out of this, and that the identity is rightly placed and not squandered on things that we think are going to be serving those other pieces. But in reality, you know, I'm spending my energies at work, I'm spending my energies in my roles and everything like that, while the relationship suffers, I guess that's the piece I want to hit right here is that has to be an order first, for everything else to function.


Brian A  16:16

It's so difficult, because if you don't spend a lot of time focused on God, it is incredibly difficult to make him the most important thing in your life. So many people who claim to be Christian, believe they have a great relationship with God. And when you look at it, it's minimal at best. But they say that they're Christians, and they go to a service once a week, and they read a you know, three minute devotional in the morning, they pray over their food, you know, they might say a couple extra prayers. I have a great relationship. Not really, right? When he becomes more important than anything else, when he becomes first before everything else, everybody who's close to me, you've known me for many, many, many years. 16, 17 years, something like that it's been a long time.


Brian A  17:06

  1. Oh Lord, wow.


Chris LoCurto  17:10

We are getting old, aren't we? Everybody who's close to me knows God's more important than anything. And then after that is my wife, right? Why is it that order? Because my wife can't get me to heaven. My business can't get me to heavan. I'm never gonna go to heaven and God's gonna go, "I'm really impressed with the bottom line you had." That's never going to be thing, right? So priority to me is incredibly important. So and we're gonna hit this, I want to hit the strategic side that every leader and every business owner needs to focus on here in just a minute. But priority is incredibly important. If I will put God first, then my heart towards man will be different. If I will focus on loving God well, and more importantly, how He loves me really well, then my heart will be different, my priorities will be different. You know, like I say, we run a profitable business. That's not an issue. It's just not the thing we're going after more than anything else. At the same time, me being a leader is not my identity. It is not, I'm constantly growing my leaders to become stronger and become better. Why? Because my identity isn't being the leader. My identity to this business is helping people internally, externally, changing lives. That's my job. That's my worth to the business, not to the people, but to the company itself, because that's my job, right? So what happens is, is that we get stuck in this place of wrong identity, wrong worth. And we hold on to it because we are getting so much worth from the identity that we can hold on to that same position for year after year, after year, after year, after year, and not recognize that nothing is growing, our people aren't growing, you know, we may be putting money to the bottom line, the business may be growing, but it could be growing exponentially if we would make a couple of shifts and that's the thing that I look forward to explaining when we come back right after this.


Joel Fortner  19:24

Hey, it's Joel Fortner here, I'm the Vice President of leadership development on Chris's team and I oversee our Next Level Mastermind business coaching program. Most business owners and leaders lack a clear path to succeed in business. They question whether they're making the right decisions, if they're focusing on the right things to really grow their business. If this is you, you need a coach in your life. Coaches help you make better decisions, navigate uncertainty, lead more effectively, and grow your business without sacrificing your life and your family. In their first year, our clients typically see an average of 67% increase in gross revenue, and an average of 138% increase in net profit, and regained hours of time. Our clients stay in the program for over three and a half years simply because of the results they get. So if you're ready to run your business at the next level, and see the growth you've been wanting, then visit chrislocurto.com/mastermind. Again, chrislocurto.com/mastermind, today.


Chris LoCurto  20:25

Alright, we're back, and we're talking about reverse engineering your business growth. And so much of that, the struggles, it's not the thing that people think it is, it's not the, missing the magic pill. It's not the, I don't have enough money. Instead, when it comes down to the leadership side, leaders and business owners, what we can find in many, many, many businesses is the identity of the leader.


Brian A  20:54

Yeah, I think what we're hitting on and what you've already teased out is the thing the obstacle that's in the path here, the obstacle that keeps us back from investing in the people around us because our goal has to be reoriented. And like you're saying until that identity is reoriented, until we understand and I loved how you phrased this, we understand what our value, or our worth is to the business is different than my identity and my value and worth as a person, right. And I think when we come back to that, and it reorients, and we have these new priorities, it frees us to where I don't have to be a slave to the profit and the bottom line, although that keeps us sustainable, that keeps us growing. But my focus can then be, I want to pour into other people. And so let's get into that side of it here. Let's assume that most of the listeners have already made that shift. They've reoriented, like a lot of our clients already have that mindset because they've been listening and following. And it's just not something that is taught in business school. I mean, this kind of a concept of pouring into other people. And that being really how the business grows. That being the real profitability of the business. That's not textbook. That's something in real life that you have to discover.


Chris LoCurto  22:22

So I love using an example. When I was a kid, there was a couple of famous business owners that I wanted to be. And when I say get I'm talking like eight years old, I wanted to be a couple of different business owners that were really popular. One of those was Lee Lacocca. And the reason why was because I saw his success, or at least what I interpreted. And just like the rest of the world, I saw this incredibly successful guy leading this really big business, right? It wasn't until later on in life that Jim Collins did a phenomenal job in "Good to Great" researching the daylights out of these companies to find out what made them go from good, to great, if you've never read the book, go read it seven times over. It's fantastic. But here's one of the things that shocked me. When he got to Lee Iacocca, and he got to Chrysler. One of the things he pointed out was, Iacocca was the reason for their success. Now, how is that possible? There's 1000s of team members in this when he left the business, the business tanked. So what did they do? They went out and convinced him to come back and add his own fanfare. "Take a look at me. I'm coming back to save Chrysler." You know, he comes back in saves Chrysler and then it tanks again. Right? So what do we discover in this process? That the company could not run without him. What does that say? What does that speak to? That he's the one making everything happen, which means that anybody under him, is not. Think about that for a second.


Brian A  24:07

So it's not built to last.


Chris LoCurto  24:09

 Well done sir, well done, that is how the mighty fall, let me tell you that.


Chris LoCurto  24:19

So what you have to understand is, is that Iacocca had a great business mind, he didn't have a great leadership mind. Because what he should have been focusing on, is making people great, the people would continue to make the business great, even if he stepped out.


Brian A  24:39

What do we say around here? What's that phrase? What's that saying, if we make our leaders successful- no, no, the job of the leader, I'm going to get it right here in a second, the job of the leader is to make his team successful, not the other way around.


Chris LoCurto  24:55

That's exactly it. So when I you know, started at Etrade at 21 I think it was, I started leading people like I thought an Iacocca would lead people, right? You know, all these other famous leaders back in those days, and I found out within a couple of months now keep in mind, I was the assistant customer service supervisor. So wow, huge authority there. But what happened is, is I started telling people what to do. And I realized very quickly, I lost their belief in me. Like the people who liked me, no longer they, they wouldn't come around me, they wouldn't talk to me. And I realized, well, something's wrong here. So let's shift and work in a different direction. And within a few months, I started changing and doing what I call now, taxing the collective intelligence, and I would bring them on board include them in all this stuff, and an immediate change happened. And so that started that process in my mind of going, wait a second, it's not about me as the leader, it's not about a title, which mine was teeny, tiny. It's not about that identity in that role. What I learned super fast is, if I can make people a part of the process, tax the collective intelligence grow from their wisdom and knowledge, and help them to become great then I by default, become great. Thus, it's your job as leader make your team successful, not the other way around. If you make them successful, by default, you become successful, right? So what does that lead us? And why is the issue-why is Iacocca his identity in him being the, you know, the great savior of Chrysler? Why is there something wrong with that?


Brian A  26:41

Well, I imagine he was the only one that had the answers to the problems that Chrysler was running into.


Chris LoCurto  26:49

That's exactly. So I will I don't know if you have all the answers. But here's what I do know, here's what I can surmise from what was happening. He was the one that people had to go to, for the answers. He was the one that had to go to for the direction for clearance, for everything that it took to run the business. Why is that a problem? Because there's no duplicating yourself in that process. What does that mean to all the leaders and business owners that are listening to the show? If your identity is in the title of being a leader or being a business owner, then what are you going to do with your leaders? You're going to do the same thing that they are doing as leaders, and that is solving everybody's problems underneath you. Every time somebody comes to you with an issue, you solve it. Every time somebody comes to you with a question, you answer it. And what happens is, it becomes so much of your worth. "Yeah, but I've got the best answer, I can fix the thing. I can do it, I can solve it right now." And you're worth becomes answering questions.


Brian A  28:00

I think that's a great, you know, flag. You know, in a different episode, we're talking about some of the internal monitoring that we do as a flag to understand what's happening. And and this is a great flag for leaders out there. It makes me go right to the series. And I just call it this series now, Joel has his series, and it's West Wing. And he doesn't even have to say West Wing, and he just talks "the series", well, for me, it's the office. And so you know, you you say you were the assistant, you know, customer service, I immediately have Dwight's voice in my head, the assistant to, you know, the regional manager, but in that in that series, which is really iconic, and it really plays off of so much real life drama in offices across America, which is why it's so wildly successful even today. That's my plug. I don't know if I get any kickback on that or not I don't know. But it's it's amazing to see how much there is jostling for position and title and rank because identity is associated with that position. But it also, it shows this other side of it here that the only person who could answer any questions was Michael, as the regional manager. And even most of the time, it was the wrong answer. And that's what we love him for. But I mean, all of that to say, you know, that's a caricature of what is really happening in most businesses where people are defined by their title. They take that role and they make it their identity, but they don't train others how-they might delegate, but that's not really what we're talking about today. We're talking about duplication, right? Like what you said, and so that duplication necessarily means we have pour into others and bring them up to our-not our level of thinking, but our ability and the capacity to think for ourselves and to figure things out. And you know, in the 19 years that I've known you, one of the most frustrating things about you, Chris, that I have to say, is that you constantly make me think, and I'm like, I'm not here to think, I'm just here to do my task, you know, but, but no task lists aren't enough. And Asana is not enough, we have to have KRAs, and the KRA helps me think about my, you know, my global contribution to the overall mission of the company and things like this. And it's, it's very frustrating. And so all of that to say, I've been pressed to grow as a person, as a team member, as a leader in the company, because you're not satisfied with your capacity as a leader, you're growing my capacity, and therefore you've grown is is the, you know, kind of the the fruit of all of that labor in that process. So I just want to tease that out, again, we're not talking about how to delegate better to get things off of your plate, as a leader, you're talking about duplicating yourself in other people, so that they rise up and they grow in their capacity. It's not so they can climb a corporate ladder and get to that next position. They're growing into that. Right?


Chris LoCurto  31:35

Yeah, so this is gonna take me a little bit to unpack. The here's for every leader out there, who has leaders under them, okay? Or plans on having leaders under them at any point. So you could be the business owner, you could be three rungs down, it doesn't matter. The concept is this, you can never grow your team unless you step out of the way, out of being the one who solves the problems, being the one who has all the answers, and cause them to answer. So here's the role that I want you to consider taking on the strategic development of people. So in other words, for me, as a leader, yes, I definitely am over the strategy of the business, it's my job, it's not my job to do to pull off the strategy itself. We have a whole team of people that execute strategically on the things that we need to do to get to the destination, the next destination that we're heading to. If I have to do it all, once again, I'm stuck in the same stupid leadership crazy cicle-


Brian A  32:46

And you're the only one thinking.


Chris LoCurto  32:47

I know, yeah, I'm the only one doing, right? When it comes to leading when my identity is stuck to being a leader, being the one who has the answers, being the one who answers all the questions when my worth is coming from that, then what happens is, I'm never gonna let you think, I'm gonna let you come to me, and ask me how to solve the thing. And if that's what my worth is, I don't want to let go of it. Why? Because I don't want to give up the thing that's feeding my worth. It feels good, feels really good. So let me give you an example that I use, I've used it a few of our Next Level Leadership Live Events. Aaron West, who is one of our leadership coaches here, has been with me for I'm probably gonna screw this up too, 13 years, I think, you know, on and off, you know, he worked for me for many years, became an entrepreneur himself, has been working with us for a long time here so he's gone from being a team member, to being a leadership coach, and doing a phenomenal job of leading people. You know, being an entrepreneur, teaching people how to be entrepreneurs, all this kind of fun stuff. He's amazeballs, right? But in the early days, I'll never forget, I share this story about how I think I was running around town or something. I think it was out either at a, you know, interview lunch or something like that. I can't remember what it was. And I get this email from from Aaron. And he says, "Hey, here's the situation, what do you want to do?" While he had been working for me long enough that I said back to him, "Aaron, what do you want to do?" Now, most leaders would have just answered the question, they would have solved the problem. They would have given their inputs, because they are getting their worth from answering the question.


Brian A  34:40

And that's what most team members want you to do, Chris.


Chris LoCurto  34:43

Exactly. Why? Because it's easy. Because it solves a problem. They don't have to use their brainpower. They can continue checking off tasks, right? For me, I don't focus that way. First 90 days. I'll answer any question you've got, but the moment I see that you're actually thinking for yourself, I'm going to start pushing you to think for yourself, I'm going to push you to come up with the information, come up with the answers on that. So I respond back, what do you want to do it? So then he sends me this long. I mean, it is like three paragraphs long of all the options and things that we could do and all this stuff. And at the bottom says, What do you wanna do? And I responded back, Aaron, what do you want to do? Question mark, exclamation point. Then he sends me back-


Brian A  35:30

And I'm sure he's loving it. He's just enjoying this conversation and just not frustrated at all.


Brian A  35:38

He's actually not, but they, the co-workers around him are dying laughing because the team that he's on at the time, he's sharing it with them. I'm getting text, "This is hilarious. Keep doing it." I'm like texting back, "Get back to work." So he sends me another email that's a couple paragraphs long. At the bottom. He says, What do you want to do? And I sent back all caps. "AARON, WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO?" And then the next email, I get two short paragraphs, A and B. And he says, "I think that we should do A, but what's your thoughts?" And so I said, A is the correct answer, man, great job, next time, come back with the answer. Tell me what you think we should do. Instead of just asking me, what do I want to do? It's so funny, I think I came in the office probably like a half hour later, or something like that. And we were just dying, laughing at that process. And I'm like, brother, this is what I want for you. You're smart, I didn't hire you because I wanted to be the person who answered all your questions. You're an incredibly smart guy, bring that to the table. Well, crud, from there, he has gone on to be an entrepreneur. Like I say, he's somebody who leads entrepreneurs and leaders in our programs here, he heads up our KLP, our Key Leader Program here, he has grown immensely. Now, if I got my worth from being the leader, Aaron wouldn't be where he is sitting right now. Why? Because I would have continued to answer the question for him. I would answer the question, I would answer the question, I would answer the question. But instead, I push him to become a-I strategically plan on growing him. So when I see the opportunities, and it's not 100% of the time, 1% of the time, it's just hey, guys, I don't have time for this. Here's the answer. That's rare. That's a couple times a year, right? But instead, I strategically grow Aaron, to become a better version of himself, to think for himself to come up with better answers. And then the guy just explodes. Once you give them the opportunity, he's like, "Oh, I actually have the freedom to think for myself."


Brian A  37:49

Well, and you know, and I just gotta interject here, there's, there are plenty of monkeys out there that push a button that costs a lot less than a team member like this. But the onus of responsibility here is on the leader, to think strategically about their teams, and about their team's ability and capacity. And, and you teasing out that leadership capacity from him and from the whole team from myself included is, is part of what you bring to the table as the leader. But it also and I'll plug the KRA here, that's where KRA's come in, and are so helpful, because they, they make us think globally about our contribution to the overall mission. And that's something that there's a room to grow into, if all you have is a job description, then you're limiting that person's role and their value to the company on achieving little check marks in each of those boxes. And so that's so critical to you know, and to what we do here and how you lead.


Chris LoCurto  38:58

Yeah, I think the key is, is that the moment I stop gaining my worth, from helping, I can't help, I'm going to have to share a story about you.


Brian A  39:08

Alright, I'll close my ears.


Chris LoCurto  39:11

So months ago, there was an event thing that you had set up, and it was kind of working, it's not working, whatever. But you came to me you said, "Hey, I want to know what you want this thing to look like."


Brian A  39:26

Oh, right.


Chris LoCurto  39:28

And I said, "Well, what do you want it to look like?" You're like, I don't want what I wanted it to look like, I want to know what you want it to look like." And I went, "Well, what was wrong with what how you had it look." And it was fantastic, because the whole time-


Brian A  39:44

 Wait it was fantastic for who?


Chris LoCurto  39:46

It was not fantastic for you in the moment. But I just kept asking questions guiding you to pull out the information of what this thing could look like and how it can be great. And then when we got to the very end I said, "So what do you think?" And you said, "Well, I mean, we've got the answer, but I still don't have your answer." And I said, "Yes, you do." You go, "How do I have your answer?" I said, "Because if there was anything that you put, you know, I guided you by asking you these questions. If you said anything, there was only like, twice, I made a slight adjustment in leading you in that process. Everything that you've got down is how I want that thing to look."


Brian A  40:28

And that's a huge piece, because my realization months later, after rehearsing that, in my head, 50 million times, was coming to a place of going, okay, it's more important to Chris, that his team thinks and grows and takes ownership of the responsibilities that they've been given than it is to have a certain outcome of a certain scenario or circumstance. And I think that's huge for leaders, to get their heads around is that the people are your most valuable asset to your company, not the other way around. And so we invest in them, we grow them, we lead them, and therefore, of necessity, and is just a default, the company grows and becomes more profitable.


Chris LoCurto  41:20

Absolutely. We could have solved the whole discussion and less than half the time.


Brian A  41:26

You could have given me a one line.


Chris LoCurto  41:28

If you just do this, do this, this to this. And yet, there's no growth,


Brian A  41:33

But then I wouldn't have gotten, you know, any further along.


Chris LoCurto  41:36

Yeah, my favorite part was the part when you said, but I still don't know what you want. And I said, Yes, you do. Here's how, and you just sat there, you looked up to the sky. And you can see that process of like, Oh, crap, that did just happen.


Brian A  41:51

And that was so painful.


Chris LoCurto  41:54

It was painful for you in the process. But look at where you are now.


Brian A  41:58

Growth is painful, right?


Chris LoCurto  42:00

Absolutely. I mean, that impacts your process where you start going, okay, think through this first, instead of just looking for an answer, or what I think is the right answer, do I have the right answer? And give the best you possibly can, because the more you grow in that the more it becomes force a habit to think, solution. How do I do this? What do I do? And then your value to the business becomes greater. Right? So let's wrap it up with this. Leaders, here's what I want you to look at. And here's how I want you to think of yourself a strategic developer of people. I want you to look, especially at your leaders before anything else, and ask yourself the question, am I solving all of their problems? Am I answering all their questions? Or am I doing everything I can to get them to think for themselves? Am I doing everything I can to get them to come up with the solutions to solve the problems to fix things. If you're not doing that, then I want you to ask yourself the question, why not? And I think what you're going to discover is you have an incredible amount of worth attached to you being the one who answers all the questions and solves all the problems. Guys, you are never going to duplicate you in this process. Because you are now the lid because you're not helping your team members grow once again. Aaron West came in as a team member became an entrepreneur, and is now a leader of leaders. A coach of leaders. Why? Am I taking all the credit for that? No, I'm not taking all the credit for that. What I'm saying is is giving him the opportunity to grow caused him to explode. He's the one who had the capacity. He's the one who had the intelligence. I didn't feed his brain full of intelligence. He didn't he came in didn't know anything. And now he's super smart. Nope. Did he learn from me absolutely.


Brian A  44:08

He needed a leader that would allow that kind of growth, though.


Chris LoCurto  44:12

That's exactly it. It's taking a look at the capacity. I know, I look at you and I know the capacity that you have. I know that stuff that you can do. Do I know that it's frustrating? Absolutely. Do I know that moment was frustrating for Aaron, I know that it was frustrating. It had to have been frustrating to-


Brian A  44:27

Because the rest of the team was dying laughing.


Chris LoCurto  44:29

Everyone's dying laughing, he's written like at this point seven or eight paragraphs worth of information. Right?


Brian A  44:34

Aaron who's editing, I'm right there with you.


Chris LoCurto  44:36

There you go. So you know, the the key is this. If I put my worth in that role, that I don't make better versions of the people that I'm paying, right? What a colossal waste of time and money. If I make them great, guess what? They make other people great by default, I become great. So I want you guys to think about this, how are you going to shift at least a percentage of your role where you become the strategic developer of people? If you will do that, then it will change the growth of your business. So what are we doing? We're reverse engineering. How so? If we stop focusing on the bottom line, if we stop focusing on the numbers, if we stop focusing on all the great ideas, and we actually make people great, we go back to the most important element, you're not going to grow it without your people. If you make people great by spending time on them, then believe it or not, they will execute the daylights out of all the great ideas, they will execute the daylights out of the strategy of the business. People always ask, I thought you guys were much bigger team. Because we get so much stuff done, with the people that are here, because we're focusing on people being successful. So there you have it, folks.


Brian A  45:57

That's it.


Chris LoCurto  45:59

Yeah, that's where I want you to focus.


Brian A  46:01

Yeah. So just to sum up, we said earlier that you are the lid on the capacity of those you lead, maybe we could also say that you're the lever, that allows them to grow and develop their capacity, beyond where it currently is. And so I think that's a great and freeing and really empowering thought for leaders out there that you're not just the you know, keeping that capacity down. You're also the one that opens it up and allows it to expand beyond where it is now.


Chris LoCurto  46:35

That'll be John Maxwell's newest book, "The Lid, or the Lever." Which if you have not read the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, you need to go read that too. Alright. Well, Brian, thanks again for joining me.


Brian A  46:47

My pleasure.


Chris LoCurto  46:49

So glad having you in here with such great questions. Folks, as always, you know what our goal is. Our goal is to help you. Our goal is to get you information that causes you to change the way you lead people. You take care of people, you grow your leadership, prepare your business. So as always, here's what we want you to do. Take this information, change your leadership, change your business, change your life, and join us on the next episode.



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Meet Chris LoCurto


Chris has a heart for changing lives by helping people discover the life and business they really want.

Decades of personal and leadership development experience, as well as running multi-million dollar businesses, has made him an expert in life and business coaching. personality types, and communication styles.

Growing up in a small logging town near Lake Tahoe, California, Chris learned a strong work ethic at home from his full-time working mom. He began his leadership and training career in the corporate world, starting but at E'TRADE.