Eighty Twenty Leadership

Efficiency is doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right things.” -Peter Drucker

The 80/20 rule sounds like a mathematical formula and in some ways, it is but don’t fret, this isn’t a lesson on statistics.  The rule came from an Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto, who stated that 80% of the Italian income was earned by 20% of the Italian population.

What this means is that 80% of your outcomes come from 20% of your inputs.  To put this another way, 20% of your activities equate to 80% of your productivity, your happiness, or any other area you are seeking to improve as a leader.  Instead of focusing on your individual productivity or happiness, we will focus on the overall engagement or productivity of your team. 

To prove this theory before we move on, look at the distribution of wealth, and lately, with the shrinking of the middle class, this is even more apparent that a small portion of the population controls much of the economy.  Look at business, the top earners are a small percentage of companies and earn the largest portion of income.  And if you look at your habits, you most likely spend most of your income on few things like your mortgage, car payment, food and you probably spend most of your time with a few people each day. 

So how can you use the 80/20 rule to maximize your team’s outputs and overall engagement?  Let’s look at John Maxwell.  He talks about the fact that he is only good at a few things.  Therefore, he doesn’t waste his time with those things he cannot do or does not want to do.  By getting others focusing on what they are good at – those few things, and not waste time on those things they are not good at, you maximize their efficient self and can improve upon and increase their skillset on what they are good at and what they love to do.  Look at your team. How can you apply this concept to each of them? Are you placing them in their sweet spot where they can best utilize their strengths and feel more engaged in the work they are performing? 

Malcolm Gladwell speaks of how to become an expert; the common thread is spending 10,000 hours perfecting one’s craft.  If you spread yourself across the board, become a Jack of all trades, master of none, then your efficiency rate decreases and no longer will the 80/20 rule work in your favor.  The same holds true for every individual. If you are seeking more quality productivity and engagement out of your team, then you as the leader must look for ways to get them in their strengths more often.

Take a moment and consider each person on your team what do they love and what are each of them good at and then list out those things that cause you to waste time and decrease your efficient self when trying to “manage” vs. “lead”.  If you are able, hire someone to do those tasks that fall on that list.  Share duties with your co-workers, team members, etc.  Trade your time and skillset for theirs.  You will find that focusing on those 20% tasks, the 80% yield will be worthwhile. 


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