Apply the Pareto Principle to leadership

Apply the Pareto Principle to leadership

Vilfredo Federico Damaso Pareto was born in Italy in 1848 and became an important philosopher and economist. One day he noticed that 20 percent of the pea plants in his garden generated 80 percent of the healthy peapods. This observation made him think about uneven distribution.  This imbalance of inputs and outputs became widely known as the ‘Pareto Principle’ or the 80/20 rule.  A rule that can be very valuable in the context of leadership and organisational success.

Leaders should indeed ask themselves the question: “What 20 percent of my time generates 80 percent of my value?”  If they focus their attention on activities that rank in the top 20 percent in terms of importance, they will have an 80 percent return on their effort. 

Think about leading people: if you have ten employees, you should dedicate 80 percent of your time and attention to the best two.  However, reality is sometimes different.  We may have the tendency to focus on the weakest members of the group; the ones who ask for the most time and attention.  However, it’s more valuable to invest your time in the best 20%: those with the greatest leadership potential.  If you develop the best, then the best will help the rest.  If you just attract followers and you never develop them, then you don’t increase the value of those you lead.  

So leaders use the Pareto Principle to develop other leaders and to receive the value of their new followers.  In this way, they multiply the growth and the success of their organisation. 


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