The 80/20 of Everything

Being an executive coach is unbelievably rewarding and incredibly frustrating. Clients often seek understanding of themselves, but once they have it, just as often, ignore it.

How then do you find a way to create an enduring effect of self awareness, EQ and social intelligence in your clients?

The only solution I’ve found that even partially works is by instilling some basic “go-to” principles. Seeking universal principles for executives to apply in any situation is the ultimate panacea every coach aspires to find and instil in their clients. Such principles underlies the sustainability and resilience of the coaching value and creates effectiveness and effect for the client.

My favourite “go-to” is the “80/20 of Everything” principle.

There are essentially three levels an executive has to worry about:

  1. Leading Yourself
  2. Leading Others
  3. Leading the Ecosystem

Leading yourself

Applying 80/20 to yourself is about applying the idea to nurture your personal resilience and sustainability whilst also creating personal focus and value alignment. Personal resilience and sustainability comes from four key areas: sleep, exercise, food and stress management. If you can sleep well, exercise, fast and meditate regularly (that is 80% of the time or 8 days out of every 10 business days) then you will succeed.

Leading Others

Leadership of others is about applying the 80/20 rule to different models of leadership. My favourite is the Goleman-Harvard 6 Styles of Leadership model where 4 culture building styles should be used 80% of the time, whilst 2 more destructive, but necessary, styles should be used sparingly or 20% of the time.

Leading the Ecosystem

Leadership of an entire company, market or industry is next level stuff and incredibly difficult. It rests on your ability to develop, execute and adapt great strategies. In this instance I would argue the 80/20 rule applies in reverse, where a great strategy needs only be right 20% of the time to have enormous and lasting effects as many of the new generation of multi-billion dollar companies prove with beta releases and product trials. The ability to be agile dictates that you need to be able to quickly try and rapidly withdraw 80% of your attempts in order foster the 20% of brilliance that such approaches strive for.

The 80/20 of everything is not an all conquering panacea, but I reckon it works about 80% of the time…

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