282 | How To Train Up High-Performing Leaders

If you have the wrong people in leadership roles, training them to be excellent and developing their leadership will be an uphill battle, and it just may be in vain.

Before you start this process, make sure you’ve listened to Episode #281: How To Spot Potential Leaders.


  • If you expect your leaders “know what to do,” and just give them directives – you’ve already set them up for failure.
  • Servant leadership is a necessary requirement when raising up leaders.
  • There are wrong ways to handle failure, and solve problems…in this episode I share the 5 questions I ALWAYS ask to solve problems and handle failure on my team.
  • Solving people problems is far more important than solving business problems.
  • It’s okay to let your leadership “squirm” – you can’t “solve” their problems
  • Don’t let teachable moments pass you by…they are one of your leaders’ greatest opportunities for growth.
  • If you’re in the Leadership Crazy Cycle, you can’t do any of the above

Teaching future leaders how to solve problems is paramount. So is turning the above takeaways into action. Here’s how to make excellent leadership a habit:

This week’s key action items:

  1. Creating your “Leadership list” to bring the right focus and priority to the process [2:00]
  2. Evaluating your “Leadership list” for the most effective training [4:30]
  3. How to implement The Leadership Team Meeting to unify your leadership [7:00]
  4. How to prepare your team to lead meetings, interviews, etc to duplicate yourself [12:45]
  5. Capitalizing on “teachable moments” to grow leaders exponentially [15:24]
  6. The 5 question process to SOLVE problems and handle failure productively [17:43]

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Chris LoCurtoWelcome to the Chris LoCurto show where we discuss leadership and life and discover that business is what you do, not who you are.

Hi folks. Welcome to the show. Today we’re talking about part two on how to raise up leaders. Now, last episode, we talked about how to spot potential leaders in your business. This is a crucial first step if you have the wrong people in leadership roles, training them to be excellent and developing their leadership will be an uphill battle and it just may be in vain.

So if you haven’t listened to that, go back and listen to Episode 281: How To Spot Potential Leaders On Your Team and get the full list of leadership characteristics and what you should be looking for when promoting someone to a leadership role. Now, if you have the right people in place, how do you train them up to be excellent, phenomenal leaders? If you missed last episode, this is a topic we’ve had a lot of leaders request more on, so much so that we created a full lesson and these are highlights of a lesson that we taught at our Next-Level Leadership Live Event back in April.

So again, on the podcast, we’re limited on how much we can share, but I want it to hit some of these few high points. I want you to pick one or two keys from the lesson for this episode and put these things in place right now. If you’ve learned from 281 how to spot the leaders or if you’ve got good leaders in place, then we’re going to talk through the highlights of things that you can do starting right now to make sure that you’re raising up leaders in a successful way.

The first thing that you need to do as you are going to train leaders, even if you’ve had leaders on board for a very long time…Sometimes we have folks on our team and and we’ve not learned how to lead them. Like I said, we have a bunch of our Next Level Mastermind leaders and business owners that have had leaders on their teams for many years and they’re like, what do we do with these folks?

The Leadership List

The first thing you have to do is, you have to know what you want to teach them and consistently teach it to them. Now, that sounds very simple, but I gotta tell you this is not, because most people don’t actually sit down and list out the things that they want to train their leaders on. Instead, how do we normally do leadership?

Well, we expect that you know what you’re supposed to do. I thought you could be in a leadership role. You said you could do the things needed to make this area successful, “Go, make it happen. How come it’s not working out? Did you get it done? Why isn’t it working?” So instead of doing it the way that you’ve been trained, you know, instead of doing it the way that your bad leader led you, sit down and discover all the things that you want to train them on that you want to teach them on.

The very things that I teach you guys, my leaders get it in much bigger way. I mean, there’s a ton of information that I’m constantly teaching them that I’m constantly sharing with them and I’m constantly pushing them to grow in. So you might as well start by writing down the things that you want to teach them. If you want to teach them about, one of the number one things, serving people and how to be a servant leader, then write that down.

If you want to teach them how to communicate better, write that down. You know, how are you going to lead people to success? So how are you going to lead this person? If it’s their job, as a leader to lead their team members to success? Well guess what? These guys are your team members that you need to lead to success. What a successful leadership look like?

Write that down. Take a look at somebody that you believe is a successful leader, a great leader, somebody that you can look at and go, wow, that person really leads people well. You can see that that person’s team is being successful and when I say successful, I’m not saying that they’re a dictator who are getting people to do things because they’re yelling at him what to do, and if you don’t get this done, I’m going to ring your head and all that kind of stuff or wring your neck.

Instead, you want to make sure that you’re looking at somebody who has set their team up for success. Write down the things, write down the things that you see are consistent with successful leadership. How am I going to train my leaders to do those very same things? How am I going to mold my leader to be a servant leader?

How do you teach them to hold team members accountable? How do you teach them to gain quality perspective instead of ripping somebody’s head off? How do you teach them to solve problems? The people problems first, you got to focus on the people problems and then moved to the business problems.

Are you walking the walk?

So if we take a look at this, the first thing we have to ask on these specific things we want to teach them is, are we good at it? If you’re not doing a great job of holding your team members accountable, then guess what? It’s going to be very difficult to train your leaders to do the very same thing, right? If you’re not doing a good job, then how are you going to train them? So these are things you’ve got to focus on yourself. If you’re in this building long enough, you will discover that I’m constantly asking questions for multiple reasons.

One: to gain quality perspective. I want to make sure that I’m taxing the collective intelligence. I want to know what people think. I want to know what they’ve experienced. I want to know what they’re experts at or they may be seeing something from a different angle than I’m seeing it, but also it’s a way that I use to grow people. I ask question after question after question. Next thing you know, they start training their brain to get to the answers. Instead of me just telling people what to do, so you got to teach your leaders how not to solve every problem. We kind of talked about this a tiny bit on episode 281, but if all they do is solve problems and they don’t actually teach people how to solve problems, that’s not going to be very good leadership is it?

People problems first

So how are you going to train them how to solve problems? But solve the people problems first. Then move to the business problems. If you solve the people problems first, funny thing is it usually tends to solve a bunch of the business problems. How are you going to teach them not to rip somebody set off when they’re just absolutely frustrated? How are you going to train them how to treat people with dignity? These are all things. These are all examples of things that you need to sit down and make a long list of all the things you want to train them on, and then I would prioritize that list. What should be the number one focus? How do you train them on number one first?

Leading Servant Leaders

What’s that plan going to be? Another aspect of this is knowing that you’re going to have to mold them into being a servant leader. No matter what. Listen, once again, when you take a look at the definition of leadership, if you think you’re a leader turn around, if nobody’s following you, you’re not technically leading anybody, right? Telling people what to do, dictating things is not a leader, so if you know how to lead people, which is take them from one place to another place that they may not even want to go to know how to get to, had no clue they’d be going to whatever that is.

If you’re good at leading people, then you’ve got to do the same thing with your leaders, but you need to start by teaching them how to be servant leaders. Understand that you don’t want a leader in a role who’s not a servant leader, so what is that going to look like?

The Leadership Team Meeting

Next thing, make sure that you’re setting up leadership team meetings that you teach and guide them in. Almost every single Monday I have got a long lunch, it’s a two hour lunch meeting that I do with my leaders. That is time for me to pour into them. This is a great opportunity for you to not only train your leaders on how to lead, but also how to get your leaders unified. You want a unified leadership team. You want to make sure that your leaders are leading the same way, that they’re doing things the same way, that they are carrying over the same core values, that they are serving people.

All of this stuff needs to be tied together. The only way that you can get all of that tied together is by having a unified leadership team. and this is a great opportunity for you to not only train them, but yes, call them out. Our leadership team meetings can be tough. It can be a meeting where I’m calling somebody out, somebody is calling me out.

It’s not a problem, because we’re so unified as a team that we discuss heavy, deep, tough stuff. If we can’t discuss it in that meeting then I can guarantee you my leaders cannot have those tough conversations or tough discussions outside of that meeting with their team members. This is an opportunity for you to really train them up on stuff to really help them to see how to lead.

Some of the things that I discuss, you know, I will bring up current situations that need solving and ask them, you know, individually how would you do this? How would you handle this? What would you do in this situation? So it’s not uncommon for me to bring up a situation that maybe a team member is struggling with or something that I see in the office or something that gets brought up in staff meeting with the whole staff or something

I just see in somebody’s weekly report. It could be anything, and I’ll bring that situation up and say, what do you think we should do about this? How do you think this should be handled? What do you think your responsibility here is? And the thing I do is I make sure I don’t lead them into their answers.

I let them squirm, it can be tough because I want them to have to process through and come up with answers. I don’t want to solve the problem for them. I want them to come up with it. Right? And so I’ll allow that whole process of, well, let me give you all the things I’m thinking and then if it’s spot on, great, well done. That’s awesome. If it’s not, hey, let me press into here.

What about this? What about doing this? What do you think about this? How do you think this is gonna affect this over here? And I spend all of that time training them how to lead and solve the problem. Right? That is one of the things I’ll do by bringing in those current situations and asking them how would they handle this? I hold them accountable to the situations that they’re not leading in.

So if I see something going on, let’s just say that a team member just keeps showing up late and I’m noticing this. Well instead of me going and tackling it, which sometimes I might, but most of the time I’m not gonna do that. I’m going to pull the leader aside or I’m going to pull him into this leadership meeting and I’m going to ask them, hey, so how’s everything going with so and so? Yeah. Okay. Is there anything that you’re noticing or seeing?

Which, it’s the funniest thing for me to watch my leaders when I ask an open ended question like that, when they know I know something, but they have no clue what it is, they just scramble. You could just see their brain just going, “Oh crud. Obviously Chris knows something because he’s asking this question. What could it possibly be? You know, what is it that he’s seeing that I don’t know? Either I haven’t noticed or I haven’t put great emphasis on it?”

So I’ll ask things, and the goal is not to surprise them. The goal isn’t to dump something on them. The goal isn’t to be a jerk and try and catch them. The goal is I want to see what they’re noticing. This is a way of training somebody to look. Training somebody to find things, trending somebody to recognize things are going wrong. Right?

And the reason why I do this is because, believe it or not, not every single person in leadership is ready to go eat conflict 24/7. So sometimes it is possible that your leaders are selectively recognizing things. They may be selectively understanding things that are happening or seeing things that are going on and then they be selectively not, at the same time. And it could just very well be that they’re so busy doing what they’re doing, they’re so focused on something that they’re doing that they’re not noticing or paying attention to team members.

If that’s true, then we need to make sure that they’re not overloaded and we need to kill the leadership crazy cycle. Or we just need to say, hey, don’t be so head down, you know, get your head up, spend some time looking around, go around, see what’s going on with the team, all that kind of fun stuff. So make sure that you’re holding them accountable to situations that they’re not leading in.

How To Train Leaders To Lead

Next thing is prepare them how to lead team meetings, reviews, interviews, et cetera. Listen, most folks coming to you as a leader, have not ever led team meetings, have not ever lead reviews or interviews or if they have, it’s been terrible. The person who trained them did not do a good job, so make sure that you’re preparing them on how to lead those. Those are vital pieces of your business that you cannot keep doing.

As you grow your business, you need to make sure that you’re training up leaders who can actually do a quality interview and I’m not just talking about sitting down and asking a few questions and going, “I like this person. Yeah, what did they say? Nothing, but they smiled a lot.” You know, actually sitting down and really understanding what it means to ask a ton of questions, to watch body language, to see how responses are, to see if somebody is a culture fit.

To really dig in and understand and those of us that have been doing this a very long time, even those of us that are great at it, right? We do a great job here interviewing and we can still not interview everything that we need to know about a person, right? Because somethings you just can’t ask or find out. Even those that do it really, really well may have a tendency to bring somebody on who isn’t a fit, right?

If you don’t train them on how to do this, then guess what? You’re going to get their level of quality of interview, the best that they could do, which is going to frustrate the daylights out of you, because then you’re gonna turn around and go, is that all you’re going to ask? Did you not look at this? Did you not want to know about this?

Well, if nobody’s trained them, why are you frustrated? You can’t be surprised. So teach them, teach them how to do interviews, teach them how to do reviews. What is it like to review a team member? Teach them how to have tough conversations. What is it like to sit down and have a tough conversation with a team member? Right? You can role play a lot of this stuff as well.

As I’m saying this, I know some of you are going, “Chris, I never have this amount of time that the stuff that you’re talking about is going to take for it. Gosh, it’s so much time. That’s very time consuming.”Well, guess what, leader, that’s why you’re living in the Leadership Crazy Cycle because you’ve not been able to train up great leaders around you, so the time and effort I put into my leaders gives me more time back because then I don’t have to lead their teams.

Don’t Let Teachable Moments Pass You By…

I don’t have to constantly be calling them out. Instead I get to bring it down to a small period of time every week and then they do a great job. So make sure that you’re preparing them on how to do all of those things. Also, do not let teachable moments pass you by. We have a teaching culture here where we are constantly…I am always teaching.

I’m always finding opportunities to teach, whether it’s in staff meeting, whether it’s in devotionals, whether I see something happening during event, whether it’s during a conversation, I’m always looking for teachable moments and probably about once a quarter there might be something that comes up that I just on the spot, call everybody in, “Hey, let me teach you on this. Let me let me help you on this. Let me help you to understand the situation.” So don’t pass up the teachable moments.

I know it’s going to seem like that the amount of stuff you’re teaching is going to cause your team members to roll their eyes back in their head, but I can promise you this, if their eyes are rolling back in their head, they’re probably not the person you want in the leadership role. All right. There’s just a few things actually that’s a bunch of stuff off of just a couple of highlights from our much bigger lesson.

We’ve been talking about how to raise up leaders inside of your business and a few things that we’ve hit so far is you need to know what you want to teach them. You need to make sure that you’re sitting down and making a huge list of all the things you want in your leaders. What are the characteristics, what are the qualities, what are the things that you want to train them on? Also the opportunities: the team meetings, the leadership team meetings, the opportunities to train them on how to handle situations or be accountable to leading their team members well, and teaching them how to do things like team meetings, reviews and interviews.

How To Teach Leaders To Solve Problems

Next thing you need to do as you need to teach them how to solve problems. The way that I do this, I’ve been doing this for a really long time. I am somebody who cannot stand the blame game. I cannot stand victim mentality. I cannot stand when people throw people under the bus. If there’s a problem, solve the problem, solve the problem. We have a tendency to try and hide or blame or you know, become victims. It’s so counterproductive. It’s insane. So one of the things I teach is when a problem comes up, we start with five questions.

The Five Question Framework

What happened? How did it happen? Why did it happen, how do we fix it, and how do we make sure it never happens again? When you solve problems with those five questions, it’s amazing how much people are free to go ahead and not have to blame people, but solve the problem and take responsibility. What happened? You know, oh my gosh, we got this fire over here. Well, what happened the first place people want to go as well, so and so. Nope. And I will call them out and I will call them out hard if I need to. “No, no, no, no. We do not play the blame game. What happened?” Now it doesn’t mean that they’re not going to be able to share. Well, so and so was working on this project and something happened. My goal is to make sure that they’re not looking to blame somebody.

I want to know the specifics. What specifically happened? How did it happen? Why did it happen? That is a huge one for you, because understanding the why… for somebody like me, I am a problem solver. I love solving problems, and by the way, those of you leaders who are just like me, understand I don’t solve a lot of problems for folks. Why I train them, how it’s the old concept. Give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day, teach him how to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.

So I don’t go around just solving problems. I’ll ask people, what do you think you should do there? You know how? How are you going to solve this? Why did this happen? Why did it happen? Helps you to see that there may be another issue that needs to be solved, so the fire that you’re currently dealing with may just be a result of a much bigger fire that’s happening somewhere else or something that you know you don’t even see going on.

How do we fix it? Do not solve the problem unless it’s an actual fire, right? Help them to learn. How are we going to solve this? What are we going to do about it? Get them thinking, get them processing, and then how do we make sure it never happens again? This is a big piece for me because otherwise we continue to make the same mistakes and my team around here understands I do not have a problem with you making mistakes.

I don’t want you to make any fatal errors, but I don’t have a problem with you making mistakes. Just don’t make the same mistake twice. When you do that frustrates the daylights out of me because you should have learned from it and you should have put something in place that keeps it from happening again. So how do we make sure that this never happens again?

Does it go on a checklist somewhere? Is there a reminder that gets set? Do you need to put a post -it on something? Whatever it is, we need to make sure that this doesn’t happen again. So teaching them how to solve problems is paramount. If they can’t solve problems than leadership is going to be a big issue, right? If they don’t know how to do this, then leadership is going to be a big issue.

What Will Hold You Back Every Time

Now, none of this you can do if you are stuck in the Leadership Crazy Cycle, so all the things I’m suggesting, all the things I’ve been talking about on this episode, if you’re stuck in the Leadership Crazy Cycle, guess what? You are not going to pull this off. Instead, you are going to run through these things and drop little pieces on them of what they should do. “Hey, make sure you’re solving problems. Okay?” Well sure. Thanks. Instead of teaching training, find the teachable moment. Find a problem. Go to the leader, go, Hey, what do we do here? You know, walk through that whole process. If you’re stuck in the Leadership Crazy Cycle, then it’s going to hold you back from leading your leaders. All right, well hopefully this was helpful for you today. As always, 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.

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