Leadership Means Babysitting

Leadership and babysitting have unfortunately been synonymous for years in too many companies. Over and over, I’ve heard leadership from around the country express the disappointment with having to babysit team members.

And while that’s an issue, it’s not the kind of babysitting I’m talking about today. Instead, I mean real babysitting. Yep, it’s a part of leadership.

A few years ago, Aaron West, the genius A/V coordinator on my team, asked if I would be willing to watch his beautiful baby girl, Ariana. Now, if you know anything about me, you know I absolutely love children. I always have. So, I was very quick to say yes.

Well  that, and I had a wedding that day. Not knowing how long the wedding would be, a baby was a great excuse to duck out if it went really long. I’m kidding … kinda!. But seriously, I was excited to watch Ariana. Now, with that said, I can hear all the guys out there who just said that I’m crazy.

It’s OK. Maybe babysitting isn’t your thing. It doesn’t have to be. But you know what does? You have to at least know the names of your team members’ children. You have to know when one of their parents is in the hospital with a problem. You have to know how their vacation went. The only one they took this year.

You should know what their dreams are. Their actual ones. Not the one they told you in the interview process of hopefully staying with your company until they die. You should be able to tell anyone about some of exciting things in their life.

Why is all of this so important? Because they have decided to come and spend more of their time with your company than anything else they do. And while a paycheck seems like the logical reason to not have to be in their lives, it’s not enough to keep them motivated.

As the old saying goes, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” So today … show them. Spend just a few minutes in your meetings, walking through the office, whatever, getting to know your team members personally.

You never know … maybe someday they will trust you enough to ask you to watch their most precious possession.

Question: What does this kind of crazy talk do for you? 


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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.

124 thoughts on “Leadership Means Babysitting”

  1. Just so everyone knows, this wasn’t a one-time thing.  Chris and Debbie have been great leaders to my wife and I both in business and in our personal lives.  Thanks, Chris, for leading by example.

      1.  @ChrisLoCurto  @1AVGuy  @lilykreitinger  @Skropp Before long, Chris, you’re going to have to become a foster parent, open an orphanage, or just run a gigantic daycare!

  2. This one is a challenge for me. As a high C on the DISC profile, I’m more about the details of the work than the people side of things, so I have to actually make an effort to connect on a personal level, write thank you cards, etc. But that being said, the times when I have done that have really paid off in a stronger team. Think I’ll schedule lunch with my new direct report and get to know her better. Thanks for the great advice, Chris!

      1.  @Bret It’s a huge advantage in understanding how I work, and how to work with team members. We did a short version with our whole team, and it’s been a great benefit to working with each other more effectively – people know they need to give me enough details to work through a project or I’ll ask a million questions, and I know NOT to give my boss too many details because she’s an I and is more about the people. Look forward to hearing what your profile is!

        1.  @lilykreitinger Bought it a few minutes ago. Just have to find a quiet 20 minutes today to complete it. May have to stop watching blog comments to get that done. Hmmmm, decisions, decisions.

        2.  @Skropp  @ChrisLoCurto  @Bret  @lilykreitinger Would you believe it? I had to leave the building and go off grid until just now. Starting the test as we speak…..Go.

        3.  @Skropp  @ChrisLoCurto  @lilykreitinger I’m apparently a high “S”. Now to read up on what that means, exactly. My numbers were 42-53-77-67.

        4. @Bret @ChrisLoCurto @lilykreitinger That’s fairly close to what I am! I’m a high S with C second highest too!! We should be friends!!! Haha. Isn’t it neat to read about it and say “oh ya, I DO like communicating that way” etc?

      2. @Bret @CarolDublin Lily convinced me to take it about a month ago!!! It is AWESOME to have your eyes opened to why you do what you do!!!

      3.  @Bret I’ve read about it and listened to several podcasts about it. I’ve thought about it. But I still have to take it, too. I think I have an idea, but I’ve been wrong once or twice in my life.

    1.  @CarolDublin Absolutely Carol. It’s also difficult for high C’s to not do this as a checklist. It must be personal or others will feel it’s fake. I know you’ll kill with this!

  3. Chris, you are a shining example of what true leadership really is supposed to be.  I’ve been in a lot of different positions, and ironically, it was my commander in the military that actually exhibited this very trait, while none of my private sector bosses have ever even remotely remembered how many kids I have, let alone their names.  It’s a good thing to keep in mind that there needs to be another aspect to a leader other than just doing the work.  I’m going to go talk to some of the newer parents in the office right now, even though I’m just a cube dweller like they are.

    1.  @steelegoing  In the world of law suits and harassment policies, we have lost our soul. We are so afraid that connecting on a personal level will be viewed as weak or inappropriate that we have forgotten how to be human. And this is not only in the workplace.  How many of us actually talk to our neighbors? Or the people at church who are not close friends?

      1.  @lilykreitinger Very true. I have to say that I know very little about my neighbors. Part of that has to do with me working odd hours, but I need to work on that more. We recently joined the neighborhood association, so that should help.

  4. Royce Phillips

    This is very true. My managers through the years have always shown great interest in my family. Since we have 6 kids, there’s ALWAYS something going on. One of my best managers even came to my house (I was working remotely at the time 5 hours away from the Regional office) and he took my 2 oldest boys out for pizza! Wow, what an impression that made on them…and on me! That spoke volumes to me about the type of man he truly was. I have strived to follow that example as I have now assumed a leadership role in another company.

    1. How great is it to have your manager teach your kids what a great manager looks like.  Seems like you had a great role model and you’ll now be that kind of leader to others.

  5. This pays off big time.  It can seem like a big time suck from your day but once you realize that those extra minutes create a team member who engages their job just a bot more because they feel like their life is important.  We have a couple team members that show up well before their scheduled shift regularly. They hang around the office and often stop into mine just to chat.  These “therapy sessions” (what my fellow supervisor and I have started calling them) seem to allow them to get in the right frame of mind as they get ready to begin their shifts.  We are always mindful that these times can become a hindrance to our work, but whenever possible we engage.  It really helps to know whats going on in their world when dealing with performance as well.

    1. @Domerskee You’re right, there’s certainly a line, but I’m sure if those employees were honest with you, your willingness to converse with them person to person greatly helps their performance and happiness!

    2.  @Domerskee Those team members probably don’t even realize that the time they spend has such a benefit!

  6. That would be huge!! I was thinking about this as I listened to the lesson from Dave in yesterday’s podcast. Having the boss care enough to come visit in the hospital when you’re having a baby, or send flowers for a funeral…HUGE!! This subject was one of my favorite from EntreLeadership! Treating employees how you’d want to be treated will do wonders for productivity, retention and happiness!

      1.  @ChrisLoCurto  @Skropp  I think also caring has to come from the right place. It’s not “I’ll show that I care so you can make more money for me”.   If it’s not intentional and sincere, it will never work.

  7. I’ve shared this before, but my best leaders have been the ones who have connected with me as a person and not only an employee.  I’ve told you guys about my leader visiting my dad in the hospital when he had a heart attack and at home when he was in the terminal stages of cancer.  Those are moments that you hope you never have to go through and that make you thankful when your coworkers are there to lend a hand or show their support.  I’ve had the opposite (just once, thankfully). My “boss” blew a gasket when I missed a work event (on a Sunday)  because my brother got in a terrible car crash and my parents and I went to pick him up and take him to the hospital.   I don’t like to live to work. I work to serve others with my skills and make a living.  The leader who shows respect for me as a person and is interested in who I am beyond my work responsibilities will definitely have my respect and loyalty.

    1.  @lilykreitinger That’s crazy! It drives me crazy when leadership/management says that family is important and that they care about people, but then do stuff like that “boss”.

      1.  @ChrisLoCurto  Our work relationship was short-lived.  I was very close with his wife and kids before I started working with him.  I came over frequently to their house and played with the kids. Once he came in the picture, our  friendship vanished.

  8. I once had a suprevisor drive over an hour out of his way on his way home from a business meeting to come to the visitation at the funeral home after my grandfather died. This is so important for employees to know that you value them. But just as importantly it allows the family of the employee to understand that the company understands and respects that family is the most important thing in your life and not the job.

    1. @bonniemann That’s a great point Bonnie. I work a TON of hours and stay out town 2-3 nights a week and little gestures like the ones discussed here would do WONDERS for my good wife even more than for me!!

    2.  @bonniemann So true. One of the most profound lessons I ever learned, was from my pastor’s wife. She said to always be there when they’re hurting. Powerful. 

  9. I’m glad you like to babysit….I’ve got an almost 18 year old that has brought his Posse home for the summer. They need a sitter so I can go to dinner with friends. Let me know when you’re available. All they do is eat and play video games.

      1.  @ChrisLoCurto  @kimberlylitt let’s see…up all night, eats when they want to, throws a fit when they don’t get their way, tries to be sneaky, naps, eats more, laughs when someone gets hurt…

        1.  @JoshuaWRivers  @ChrisLoCurto  You pretty much locked in on them….only thing you don’t have to do is burp them, they’ve mastered that.

  10. I watched a Dennis the Menace show a couple weeks ago (the one from the 50s/60s). I think it was actually the very first episode. Dennis’ parents were trying to find a babysitter – ANYONE that would watch him. I’m sure they would have asked @ChrisLoCurto if he was there!
    Anyway, it really is a good thing to learn what is important to your team members. Listening to other podcasts (can’t remember off hand which one I got this from), they said to write down what you learn about others. Kids names, birth dates, etc. If you have a larger team, it would be near impossible to remember everything without writing it down. And for me, I am terrible with names.

    1.  @JoshuaWRivers Another great way is to friend them on Facebook. People always post what’s going on in their life. When you come in, you ask the person who’s mom has been sick for a few days how’s she’s doing. You’ll be shocked at the look on their face when they try to figure out how you knew about it. It’s priceless. 

      1.  @ChrisLoCurto  @JoshuaWRivers  That’s another one that will spook a few leaders.  Facebook is for “private life” posting.  It’s like letting someone open your sock drawer.

        1. @lilykreitinger @ChrisLoCurto @JoshuaWRivers Could spook employees too. If there’s a low trust level they’ll feel like the leader is trying to spy on them!

        2.  @Skropp  @lilykreitinger  @JoshuaWRivers 
          Keep in mind, they don’t have to give you access. If they trust you, they won’t have a problem. If they don’t, YOU have a problem. 

        3. @ChrisLoCurto @lilykreitinger @JoshuaWRivers Absolutely right Chis. I almost didn’t give you access on fb…but then I remembered you’re not my boss…and I’m FAIRLY certain you’re trustworthy 😉 haha

        4.  @lilykreitinger “letting someone open your sock drawer”!! That’s so exactly right – great analogy, Lily! Made me smile (and reply too!)

      2.  @ChrisLoCurto I friended my boss on fb. And he said, after a former employee, he was always going to do that in the future. (of course, I can be almost impossible to find on fb–name is too common) His is not the same goal as yours…. but I have found the more my boss knows we have in common, the more he likes working with me 🙂

    2. I have one co-worker I don’t talk to very much and have trouble remembering his wife’s name.  Before each gathering in which I know I am going to see her I go back and look up her name to make sure I get it right.  Erica, her name is Erica.

  11. Love this Chris.  It is all about the CARE.  You said it. When you CARE for your people, they will CARE about you. When they feel “A Part of” instead of “Apart From” they will be happier and more productive.  Yes, indeed.
     Thanks again for this and for the connect on linked in, too.
    Take CARE.

  12. This kind of crazy talk makes me want to kiss you right on the mouth!  
    This is exactly the work environment I have the privilege of working in and I believe, the one Jesus meant for us to be in.  Sure, it’s risky.  I might open myself up to be hurt if I’m in a real relationship with another human being; in fact, it’s a given.  At times, we fight like cats and dogs.  In the end, we’re grown-ups, so we forgive, grow and move on once a problem is solved.  I would take a bullet for my boss and co-workers–THAT kind of atmosphere makes it easy to get up in the mornings.  

  13. Ah my old football nemesis, Aaron West. 
    It was so…SO hard for me to realize this: That other people have lives outside of work and like to actually talk about them. I know, crazy. Geesh.
    When I took over the marketing department at a previous company, I was in way over my head at first.
    The first thing I did was start one-on-one meetings every week with my team. 30 minutes long.
    The meetings went like this:
    10 minutes for them to talk about personal stuff
    10 minutes for them to talk about work
    10 minutes for me
    Here is what I wanted to do:
    28 minutes for me to talk about things I need them to do
    2 minutes for them to tell me about the things they are going to do for me
    Needless to say, intellectually I knew the former method would probably work better. But dang it was hard.
    But I faked it until I maked it. (* Yes I know proper grammar but I like that)
    Here is what happened:
    1. I began to actually care about them.
    2. I began to take action on that caring. Like one guy had a son who wanted to learn golf. I knew a golf instructor who specialized in kids. I got a huge discount on lessons and bought a gift certificate for him. Meant the world to him. 
    3. I learned from them. We talked about kids a lot. One guy had 7 kids. My wife was pregnant with our first (and only to date) child. I got more out of those meetings than he did I think. But he loved sharing stories. That same gut was also a New Testament Greek minor in college. I truly learned what Jesus was saying to Peter at the end of the gospel of John. When you know the Greek, it changes everything.
    4. I laughed with them. 
    5. I cried with them…and gave some hugs. One guy’s dog died and when he told me, there was nothing I could do but sympathize with him and hug him.
    6. I got “inside information.” What was truly going through their minds? What were their fears at work? What skills did they lack? What were some skills that weren’t being leveraged?
    7. In short, we grew closer, more efficient, and we simply got stuff done.
    The old saying that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason was tough for me. But when I forced myself to follow this formula, the results were amazing.
    Here’s the cool thing though…
    I rarely used my 10 minutes. Of course, sometimes there was something I genuinely needed to convey in a one-on-one setting and on one occasion we broke the formula due to an elephant in the room that needed to be addressed with one team member. But usually it worked like this:
    10-20 minutes they talk about personal stuff
    10-20 minutes they talk about work stuff
    0-5 minutes I talk about my stuff
    I grew a lot in a short time doing those meetings. I dare say that formula works with anyone…team members, peers, friends, kids, spouses…anyone.

    1.  @MattMcWilliams2 That’s really great advice!  I’m sincerely moved by your dedication to that process.
      Did you tell them up front how you wanted to the meeting to go or did you just steer it that way?
      Did you have any trouble keeping it to 30 minutes?

      1.  @selfemployedbob I told them up front. The great thing I learned over time with new hires is that when we hit the mark where their time was “up” and I didn’t say anything, they couldn’t believe it.
        Same as how I used to leave my phone (work phone that is) on during meetings in my office and then I would not answer it. I wouldn’t even look at it. They usually asked “aren’t you going to get that?” To which I replied, “No, I am meeting with you right now.”
        As for the 30 minute time frame, yes. About 30% stayed in the 20-25 minute range, 30% in the 25-30 minute range, 30% right at 30 minutes, and about 1/10 meetings went over, some as much as 15 minutes. It was worth it every time.
        I budgeted 45 minutes just in case.
        Oh and one more thing…the meetings were always at the same time every week. 

        1. Jillian in Nashville

          I can’t stand when you’re in a meeting with a specific purpose and other people multitask the other things they have going on. I prioritized my time for you, please do the same for me? I’ve even had a guy in the same building say that he’d prefer to cal in because he has other emails he needs to be working on. Seriously?!?!
          Awesome points about the 30 min 121s though! My boss and I usually do the same (60 min monthly meeting, and 45 of those minutes are about triathlons or vacation) and we have a great working relationship – maybe because of it? We understand better how the other one functions fundamentally and can get more done the way WE each function better in doing it. He’s kinda off in strategy land and I prefer a today to do list. 🙂

        2.  @Jillian in Nashville It’s particularly hard in a remote environment when people mute themselves on calls. Am I supposed to believe they are actively listening or buying a cow on Farmville?

        3.  @MattMcWilliams2 Hmm.  I can hear our “managers” already…we don’t have time for that.  Then why are you in a leadership position??
          Thanks for sharing!  I will definitely practice this – someday!

        4.  @MattMcWilliams2 Impressed with you not answering the phone. Not answering the phone was something I “required” of my boss at my last job, when we were in a meeting. Reeeeeeaaallly difficult for him. He would stare at the phone, and conversation would cease, until it stopped ringing. 🙂

        5.  @selfemployedbob Yeah that is a load of crap. I know of managers with 20 direct reports that spend 30 minutes with each team member, each week, one-on-one.  That’s 10 hours a week!
          Leadership is about getting others to do great work. It honestly took me a few months to understand that my 30 minute investment in a team member was 30 minutes less work from me and probably 3-10 hours in increased productivity from them. That is a pretty good trade off.
          Plus, I used my time quite often to delegate 🙂

        6.  @Laura Johnson Yeah in his case he should have just turned it off. 
          Admittedly it was a little manipulative of me to leave it on and then ignore it but I can live with that.

        7.  @MattMcWilliams2  @selfemployedbob My dad used to call the time he spent with his team “LBWA”. Leadership By Walking Around. Actually, I think he called it “Management”, but I think what he was doing was more Leadership than Management.

      1.  @ChrisLoCurto Well I have like 60 posts in queue…quite a few for you actually. Long story why I haven’t submitted yet. Oh wait, it’s a short story…I can’t freaking get the domain I want even though it’s expired. 
        I have something I want to share on the way Chris!

  14.  Bravo, Bravo!  Things are so much more productive when your team counts on you like a family member or good friend.  If you make that connection your team will band together no matter what the obstacles are.

  15. Sorry, I know I’m getting in late on here today, but this post really resonates with me because I often tell how hard it is to apply Entreleadership principles in a large Healthcare organization 17,000 strong. Despite that, my manager (of 140 team members) is one of the reasons I love working where I do.

    An example of her dedication (and to steal a phrase from Kung Fu Panda, her “awesomeness”) was her offer to me to watch my two boys last year, when the prospect of no babysitting existed. And it was unrelated to me being needed at work.

    What was amazing was not only was she willing to watch a 4 year old and 2 year old as a single mom of a 15 year old teenage girl, not only is she my manager, but she lives 65 miles away!

    THAT’S “crazy talk!”. And that’s why I love working where I do!

    1.  @skottydog So totally didn’t realize I borrowed a phrase from Kung Fu Panda, until I read your comment 🙂
      Sounds like you’ve got a pretty amazing manager!

      1. @Laura Johnson She is pretty awesome. She’s a “high I, low S”, which goes great with my “high C, low S”. We’re a great combo! I’ve never worked for someone before like her who says they “have your back”, and actually mean it!

  16. This is just an extension of “Love Works” – a reprise, a followup, a rerun, a reiteration, a great example. Loved reading the comments. No kids, no babysitting requests (but could someone look out for my one remaining cat – Bad Coyote Summer around here!)

    1.  @cabinart Maybe your cat could hang out with our almost all white, three legged cat…. 😉
      No, maybe that wouldn’t be a good idea. Our cat is easy coyote bait.

  17. I love it!  Most of my offices are equipped with a “kid’s room” so there is a place for the kids to hang out after school if they need to – or in between dentist appts. and home, etc.
    And yes, I think babsitting for your team is GREAT!  Love it

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