Self-assessment time! Are you a driven leader?
With most driven leaders, what often gets neglected are those soft skills that focus on different personality styles, creating culture, and especially the deeper, personal work that needs to be done inside the heart of a leader.
– Joel Fortner, VP of Leadership Development
These skills are necessary not only to be successful and to sustain that success, but to lead others well all along the way. So, how are you doing with that?
In today’s episode, we tackle how leaders need to learn to lead themselves before others!
Enjoy this episode,
460 | Learning To Lead Yourself Before Others
Chris LoCurto 0:00
While learning to lead yourself has to be a top priority for any leader, and what happens when it's not all of that and more is coming up next.
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 hope you're having a fabulous day, wherever you are today. Joining me in the studio again, is the incredible, the insatiable. But phenomenal...
Joel Fortner 0:44
I love multi-syllabic descriptors of me.
Chris LoCurto 0:48
Right, there could never be enough. Joel,
Joel Fortner 0:51
There can be though the other. They're good bait here to be back on the show.
Chris LoCurto 0:57
So hey, we are going to dive in, you're actually going to take the show and interview me. I am. But before we do that, we've got something super exciting coming up. What is that?
Joel Fortner 1:08
What's coming up is the Next-Level Leadership LIVE Event. So we've been in this super fun, cool little mini series featuring what hopefully has been a lot of great learning for you all, but also highlighting different topics that we're going to be teaching very in depth. If you've ever been to one of our events, we are by no means 30,000 foot view teachers we are how do we literally do this stuff. Now? Let's teach it to Pete Yeah,
Chris LoCurto 1:35
Exactly. We used to used to teach that 30,000 foot view stuff. But what we've discovered every time I used to step off the stage was the deeper I could help somebody get to a subject, the more it literally changed.
Joel Fortner 1:49
So my first interview question for you, Chris, is that oh, ask away is that if you're at a 30,000 foot view, what does that mean? The stage was that high? And how long did it take to get up there?
Chris LoCurto 1:58
Oh, you know, it was quite a climb. And then it was a HALO jump. You know, to get back down,
Joel Fortner 2:04
You can teach a lot, right? Seconds before you crash into people. Exactly.
Chris LoCurto 2:09
Oh, goodness. Okay. We are We are certified dorks as what we say here. So we're gonna be talking about this, the stuff that we're talking about today is going to be stuff that I'm going to be teaching much further in depth at the next level of leadership, live events. So go to chrislocirto.com/nextlevelleadership to reserve your seats today. Okay. It's turn over to you my friend.
Joel Fortner 2:31
So you know, Chris?
Chris LoCurto 2:34
Yes, I do. But what do I do?
Joel Fortner 2:39
So, you know, it's not hard to imagine why so many leaders go to conferences and seminars, and that focus on like sales and marketing and all these things to grow their business, but it's hard skill. There's a lot of a lot of these things that some people will call the soft skills, the leadership that we know in decades of teaching leaders, those actually are hard skills. Because it's like when people come through strat plan, for instance, they're coming in and like how to help us fix the business, help us grow the business. And overwhelmingly they're, they're taught leadership, a lot of people would think, are soft skills. But when you really get into what leadership actually is, and everything that's involved, you will find it's arguably your greatest leverage within your company to grow is by learning to effectively lead people and all the things that we teach there. So Peter Drucker, so Peter Drucker wrote in his book "Managing Oneself", he said this, this is so good, "depressed, ruthless bosses create toxic organizations filled with negative underachievers. But if you're an upbeat inspirational leader, you cultivate positive employees who embrace and surmount even the toughest challenges." So folks, you've probably heard that, you've probably heard it said that great leadership starts with self leadership. And while that's true, it's not usually something that you might hear taught in terms of how to self lean, right? So Chris, you've been leading people for decades now. You're like a super old man nowadays.
Chris LoCurto 4:09
Joel Fortner 4:10
so that's about it.
Chris LoCurto 4:12
64, what do you say? Before leadership exists?
Joel Fortner 4:17
So Chris, you've been leading people for decades now. But when you first started out, you probably plugged in some model of leaders. Yes, I did. Okay. So take us back to those early days for you. Many people have maybe even never even heard this part of your story. But take us back to those days before you really knew how to lead.
Chris LoCurto 4:37
Well. You know, I just like everybody else. I'm going to start it off. While I'm, I don't know if this is like everybody else. But you know, I was working ever since I was young, quite young. I started gaining a legal paycheck at 14. But my brother and I were always working. We were always doing stuff, whether or not it was for our family. We did stuff to make sure that we were putting food on the table. But we also did odd jobs, all kinds of fun stuff and then got an actual paycheck. That wasn't cash. Boy, I'm telling you all kinds of fun stuff here, starting at age 14. And from that point on, it was watching leaders, right? It was it was paying attention to how I was lead, had some good leaders had some crappy leaders during those times. But there's one thing that I think I experienced from every leader, and that was people telling me what to do them having the control of that leadership title in telling me do this, do this, do this, no, do this, do this. No, you did that wrong. Now, that was terrible. No, that was horrible. Nope, fix this over here. All of those kinds of ways of teaching is the stuff that I just stored in my brain. That's how you lead people. So when I got to each raid, and I got this my first leader, technical leadership position, which was the assistant customer service supervisor, and it wasn't even the customer service supervisor, great guy by the name of Dan, Mike Reynolds was there at that time, I was the assistant but I was leading people, let me tell you, I did the same thing that I learned. I started telling people Now up until that point, man, I was friends with everybody, everybody, you know, we were friends, we, you know, thought great of each other thought highly of each other. When I got that role, when I started doing the things that I had learned or observed other leaders doing, all of a sudden, I could see people not like me that much. Like they just you could see the the if their eyes were bright when I was around, that started to get dim. And it took me I don't know how long but it took at least a few months, maybe up to six months where all of a sudden I started going. My style of leadership isn't working. This doesn't work. People don't like me. Now keep in mind, I was also a people pleaser at that time. So it wasn't hard for me to recognize I wasn't pleasing people. But the leadership side of me started going this doesn't work. And that thought of what never really worked with me. I didn't like that when I was being led that way. So let me change things. Let me start asking for input. Let me start asking questions. Let me start getting people's buy in on stuff. So and I mean, I was at. I was like 2021 at that time. So 3030 30 plus years ago when that started. But it was a it was a huge moment for me in leadership to learn. Oh my gosh, so much of what has been modeled for me is not what I should be doing. It's just what everybody else has done. So I think that's where I came from. That's the that's the the great model of leadership. I did plug in. That's why I laughed at that a little bit ago. Because I'm not the only one I think we've all been. I know you've been there too. You're probably experienced that as well. But yeah, that's that's how I started my leadership career.
Joel Fortner 7:58
Well, when we come back how leaders produce and others what they cultivate in themselves.
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 in 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 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.
Alright, welcome back to the show, everybody. So Chris, you were sharing before the break a little bit about your story about your early years of leadership like 50 or 60 years, or 30 years ago 30 years ago, something like that. I'm interested in knowing when you look back at yourself, what are the main struggles you met? You mentioned you're a people pleaser. You had what you had been taught to do, what you what you had observed and other leaders. But what are their struggles looking back? Do you recognize in yourself?
Chris LoCurto 9:41
Yeah, by far. You know, we have a saying around here. It's your job as leader to make your team successful, not the other way around. And that literally came from earlier things that I started to see about myself. My leadership was about me now. I've always I'm high altruist I've always loved developing people. I've always loved helping people, I jokingly say, I've been teaching people since grade school. Just nobody listened to me back then, you know, I've always had the heart to help people, but really nobody listened to you when, you know, you've got, you know, nine years worth of experience of life. But I've always had that heart. The problem is, is that coupled with worth struggles, people pleasing all of that, what I found is my leadership was about me, I wanted to lead you to a place that I became successful. If I could lead you in a way of you doing the things that I thought was best for you, or the things that I thought were best for the situation, then, eventually, I should become great, I should be a great leader. And again, I started learning, especially in those very early days. And that just continued through job after job. And you know, career after career, where I kept seeing that what I was trying to do was backfiring. Even though I got better at it, or better at leading, I should say, I kept running into this problem, I was still wanting me to, I was still wanting people to think of me as a great leader, I still wanted people to look at me and go, Gosh, that guy, right. And it wasn't until God really showed me something super powerful. And it was I felt like it this was a massive flip of the switch for me back in the mid 90s. Where God showed me, if I'm gonna put my people in front of you, it better be about me, not you, it better be about what they hear not what you say.
Exact words still to this day. So many years later, I can hear it, I can see it. I remember the hairs raising up on my on my arms of that moment in my life and just going, it's not about me, this isn't about me. That became a powerful turn and start I really started focusing on how do I make people great, how do I make them successful? Not me successful. So I think that was probably the biggest struggle that I was experiencing. Because I was experiencing that struggle. I missed out on what great leadership actually is, right? Instead, I'm still trying to get people to accomplish the things the way that I want them to accomplish it, instead of drawing out of people and making them phenomenal, and getting their buy in and getting their input and helping them to think for themselves. And, you know, piece after piece after piece layer after layer. I couldn't see those things very well. It's not that I didn't do it. It's not that I wasn't trying to do it. I was obviously leading people. But I was missing that there was so much more to it than than I thought. And again, still, my experience was so much of you know, the leadership that I had before. Once I could get those pieces under control and recognize that it wasn't about me, a whole world opened up, where I started realizing that leadership is so much more than these hard skills that people say quote unquote, right? And that the soft skills are so much more difficult than people can possibly imagine. It's almost contradictory to call them soft skills, like you were pointing out in the beginning, right? Because this concept of how do I make a person great at leading somebody else? Or how do I make them great at their job, you know, at their role? How do I make them communicate? How do I help them? Remove the make, I can't make anybody? How do I help them communicate at levels that causes us to be successful? How do I help them to communicate with a personality style that's completely opposite of them and not look at that person as a jerk and somebody just can't get but instead understand them and why they think the way that they do and the piece after P and that's why, you know, obviously personality styles became so important in the beginning phases of that, you know, how do I help somebody else, see the things that I'm learning, take those on, take responsibility for themselves, take responsibility for others, and drive people to success, right? That's when that really started to compound like crazy and phenomenally as I continue to lead people I would see both sides. I would see a great leader and by the way, funny thing, little left turn here. People have asked me over the years who have been great leaders in your life and it's never who they think they always think I'm going to mention some famous person some you know somebody that people have put on pedestals you know all these things, and it's never that it's always that self you know effing person kind of like you know what Jim Collins talks about in "Good to Great" there's, you know, you it's this person who's not focused on being the person who rips themselves down off the pedestal right. It's the person who says this is not about me. Let me make you let me help you, right? Those have always been the great leaders in my life. Those are the people that I've seen that they cared more about people than they did themselves. And so I saw that. And then as I'm growing, you know, massively in my leadership, and just leaps and bounds, because now I'm freeing myself up from it being about me. I'm also seeing even greater levels of that. self centeredness, that self focus, like we talked about in your lesson of that, you know, that that self sabotage of it's about me, I've got to focus on me all that kind of stuff. So that also became something that I got is just created this thing in me where I notice recognize and build off of, oh, this is good. How do I do that? What how do I get there? Hey, here's failure, how do I fix the failure? How do I get beyond the failure? Oh, I'm watching somebody else fell. How do I make sure I never get there? You know, I jokingly say, I learned a whole lot by watching a bunch of leaders get nailed with a two by four upside the head, and I just went, Oh, that look like it hurt. Don't do that thing. How do I make sure I avoid that. So all of those things are what grew into me, leading myself.
Recognizing my own faults, and I guess, let me throw that on the pile, as well. One of the big shifts was being able to say, I don't know what the crap I'm doing. I don't know how to lead Well, I am trying to avoid being recognized as a fraud. And I don't want people to see my mistakes. Early on, when I started recognizing that all of a sudden, I could throw that out the window. You know, even in my 20s. I could say screw man's opinion on this and not completely. But way better than I was, this isn't the important thing. This is over here. Getting out of my own way was one of the most powerful things that allowed me to lead other people to success.
Joel Fortner 17:04
So you're a very relational person, you're a very caring person. You're a you're altruistic, you focus a lot on people. But not everyone's that way. No. So let's say I'm not you. And on the pressure field, stressed out, business leader, business owner that's got ambitious goals, that I've got financial goals that I want to achieve. And I'm feeling all this pressure and weight to get those because it's just what I want, or whatever it may be. But I'm hearing this and I'd like yeah, I'd love to make that transition to lead like how, in the way that you're learning. But how do you do that?
Chris LoCurto 17:43
You can't, you should just probably quit back at it. The fact that it just made me unhappy. But the funny thing is, is that there are a lot of people and a lot of personality styles, you take the DC personality style, right? Not very relational. If they're low ins, not very relational, super task, we have plenty of clients. We just had a strat plan with one of the leaders, one of the owners, DC personality style that has worked just immensely on becoming more relational, right? And the other owner, super relational person, right? So the crazy thing is the thought that somebody tells themselves is, well, I'm not that, I can't do that. So give me the tool to do it in a way that fits me. Here's what I'm going to tell you, if you don't focus on caring more about other people than yourself. And this goes for all situations in life, right? Whether it's leadership, whether it's parenting, whether it's guiding whether it's supporting, it just doesn't matter, right. God created us to love our fellow man, our love, love our fellow human beings, right. And when we've done that, Scripture tells us that when we've done that we've actually fulfilled his commands. The key is you had to get to a place where you just start practicing. What does it mean to care more about somebody else in this situation? What does it mean to attempt to be relational, it doesn't mean that you lose all task, it doesn't mean that you completely change you. It means you have two options in that situation, drive the person to do what they're doing through your task focus, which is all about you still, right? Well, I still want you to just do the job, you should just do the job. Just make the job happen. I don't need to come along in and create relationship with you. Or you can start practicing what does it mean to be somewhat relational? What does it mean for me to care more about this person right now than myself? And start plugging that in and operate from that I think of Bob McDonnell. I'll never forget. Bow in the next slot in the Mastermind program for a couple of years kept hearing me say you've got to kill the leadership Crazy Cycle. When you do you can focus on leading people to success. Now obviously, I'm summarizing that very, in a very short way. But we got on a call one day years ago, and he goes, he says, Chris, I just spent 30 hours leading people. And I'm exhausted. And it sounded like he was like, I don't like this right, high D, high C personality style. He goes, Why did I not do this before? You know? And it was a rhetorical question. He understood the reason. Because I just put it right back on him. I'm like, Well, what is the answer? And you know, he had his answers. But it was great for him to go. I should have been doing this the whole time. But in my mind, I was telling myself that the things I was doing was more important than this. And when he started leading people from that aspect of, you know, getting the killing leadership, he had to kill the leadership, crazy, psycho first had to get a bunch of junk office Blake that he shouldn't be doing in his role other people should be doing, and then getting in there and leading people, and it was just crazy powerful. So I think that's something that every person needs to recognize, even if they're not there, right now, start practice, try being I'm not saying go sit down and have a 30 minute conversation. You know, the, the DC that's got that high on their team is probably avoiding them like the plague because you know, they want to have a long conversation. And they're just like, Just do your job, right? It's okay to get in there and have a couple of minutes of conversation, be relational. But especially in the leading part, you don't have to have outside conversations with the person, although I'm going to tell you that is a great benefit. Just get in there and be relational in the process, ask questions, ask them what they think about it, ask them what their opinions are. Do they you know, where do they think this thing's gonna fail? How do they think it's going to succeed? Do they understand their part and how they're going to get there, all of those pieces, remove the task side of do A, B, and C. And then the other thing I think people need to just rip out of their brains is this concept, you know, that has been taught forever, you can't be a friend and a leader. Right? We are. We've been great friends for geez, I don't know how many years right? That it I'm not saying you need to become friends with everybody in your business. But this concept that you have to separate any kind of relational side of you. To be a leader is absolutely untrue. You just don't have the tools on how to lead people well, right. Everybody here is my friend. But everybody also understands, I still have to run this business, I still have to make leadership decisions. everybody on your team is your friend. But they all recognize that you're their leader in the process.
Joel Fortner 22:42
So when we come back how leaders produce another's what they cultivate in themselves.
Chris LoCurto 22:50
Hey, folks, a couple years ago, I was visiting with a client and the CEO said to me, Chris, we're not going to hit our goal. I asked him what he meant. And he said, We're gonna miss our three year revenue goal coming out of strat plan by a few months, I didn't realize it at first, that he was having a little fun with me by saying they were about to triple their company in less than three years. How freaking awesome is that? Folks, these are the kinds of results that businesses get by coming through our four day strat plan event. On average, we find $2.1 million worth of revenue in the next 12 months that the company was not planning on. And this event is for all sized businesses. If you're small, medium, or large, it works for every single business, because it's not industry specific. It's about gaining all the information about all the things inside of your business that are holding you back from success, and then giving you a plan and a process on how to walk that out and be successful in your business. By discovering the things that are holding you back. It helps you get to all of those goals that you've been planning on for a long time. So if you're ready to get the perspective, you need to solve what's holding you and your business back. So you can grow faster than you need strat plan. To learn more, go to Chrislocurto.com/stratplan. That's Chrislocurto.com/stratplan.
Joel Fortner 24:27
So Chris, of the many lessons you're going to teach at the event here coming up in April, one of those one of those lessons is called Healthy Vineyard. It's this super deep, leading yourself better lesson. So you're gonna teach this lesson at the end of the event. It's gonna be taught on day three, with what we teach in this lesson. This is a tough lesson. Why do you want to teach this?
Chris LoCurto 24:51
You know, it's it's funny that you say this is a tough lesson. I have oh, I have convinced myself for a long period of time that we had a lot of lessons We're actually not that difficult. We don't have a single lesson, do we have any lessons that aren't tough? I think the thing that separates us from the 30,000 foot view teachers out there is that we teach things that are difficult. It's our goal isn't to teach something difficult. I thought these things were actually not that difficult. But it's the things that work. It's the things that help people right? To teach it from a 30,000 foot view, I feel like is actually more hurting than it is helping, right? It's not enough. It's not getting them to. What's the result, though. So, for me, my heart is for every single person to have first and foremost a great relationship with God. That is my number one, if I can be a part of that, if I can help praise God Almighty. Because that's what God wants, right? That's he wants every single one of us to have a phenomenal relationship. The other piece is I really, really want people to overcome the crap that's holding them back. I want people to you know, again, since I was a kid, I've been trying to help people to get over stuff. It's something that God put in me that this desire to say, Listen, there's a better way for that. There's a you know, there's rarely do I say, there's an easier way, there's a better way, there's a better way for you to experience life, you can have a stronger marriage, you can have a stronger family, you can have a more enjoyable time with family, you can have healthier boundaries in place, you can keep out toxicity you can, there's so many things that you can do to make your life better. But you got to you got to learn them. First, you got to learn what those things are. You got to learn the tools. And then you've got to learn the most important piece how to apply those tools, how to put those things in place. When you do man does life get considerably better. And I'm not talking about, you know, a TV show better movie better. I'm not talking about, you know, we want to sell 1000 books are million books better. I'm talking about straight up, oh my gosh, I'm positioning myself in a better place to not have to deal with toxicity. I'm positioning myself in a better place to have greater relationships. I'm positioning myself to like myself better. So many people don't like themselves. So many people look in the mirror and hate themselves. But when you when you understand where so much of this stuff is coming from when you put the right tools in place, when you implement. That's the other piece that's so important to me. Successful people implement. I saw it online recently. And it's funny because one of the things that drives me nuts, couple things, I can't stand in life. People who leave their carts. People who are in a in a grocery store. And you see somebody picks up something i don't i don't know what it would be a bag of bread. And it's over in one section. And then they get over to the artisanal section, and they find a different style of bread that they want. And they put their bread on that counter and they take the new bread. Hey, lazy, but take the bread back. I saw somebody say, I've never known a successful person who leaves their cart in the aisle. And I'm like, That is such good truth. Right? I've never known somebody who's successful, who doesn't implement the things that helps them to get to success. I've never known somebody to be successful. You know, we've very rarely have we ever had somebody come in and just be like, Nope, I don't want to do this stuff. Everybody at some level has implemented and those that have knocked it out of the park have been the folks that said, I have to I have to implement. I got to get this done in my life. So that is another reason for me to teach this lesson is to help people go back and implement this in their lives.
Joel Fortner 29:04
Yeah, I love that. And confession time. A long time ago. It's like I have been that guy like in my palm. I gotcha. Do I do that now that I've been the guy who's like taking the nature like bread and then been like shoot because I'm a high I think about it. I'm gonna I'm gonna go over here like shoot I want this focaccia bread now I don't want what I picked up. I'm gonna leave this right here and head on out. So hey, there's been transformation. Right now everybody knows now everybody know love it. Like with Joe then the excuses are like what do we say on that job security for somebody else like is if you're doing that really like help somebody keep somebody but I convinced myself that I did that my laziness is okay. That is awesome. If anyone sees me do that nowadays in the grocery store, just call me out like give you permission. Absolutely. So no thank you for this and thank you for all that you shared. especially so much of your story and in your heart as a leader. These this is, you know, a mountain. This is me as your friend is like those are, those are the things that I love about you. But I love being able to be on this team got to learn this style of leadership because of how it's blessed my life and it's it's helped me become a better leader of people, and helped me focus on the right goals. So thank you for your
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1 thought on “460 | Learning To Lead Yourself Before Others”
Those leaders who might believe they are not that way, that they cannot do the things Chris is teaching, because that is not who they are and they need or want to be able to do things their own way… ways they think they are more comfortable with… quite frankly, I believe that would be like going to a Marketing seminar and saying, I can’t market that way. That is not me. That is not how I do things. Really? Then why are you here if your way is working so well for you? The fact of the matter is, Chris know’s what works and he knows what does not work. There is no better teacher than the school of hard knocks, right? The next best teacher is to learn from someone who has been through those hard knocks. The way I see it, you can choose to do things your way, and continue struggling to get where you want to go, OR you can learn how to step outside your comfort zone, and expand your boundaries to reach new heights of success you did not know existed. Nothing that is worthwhile comes easy. If it was easy, then you’d have to wonder if it was really worth while. And if you are going to grow and become better than you were, you have got to be willing to humble yourself and make an effort to do what does not come easy. You would expect the same of your team members. Right? So why does that not apply to you as well? Do you remember the saying attributed to Albert Einstein about Insanity? Which is doing the same things, the same way over and over and expecting different results. If what you are doing is not working, you have got to learn how to change and do things differently. I believe if you take Chris’s counsel and advice to heart, it might be uncomfortable at first, but if you persist and persevere, as any entrepreneur needs to do, then each of us have got to learn how to do things differently to get where we want to be. 🙂