Strangely, this week, I found myself explaining the 80/20 principle to everyone I know. Though this principle is well-known by leaders, it is rarely applied. Leaders around the globe get flooded with information, sometimes more than they can handle. However, they have to make swift decisions and keep their most important objectives in mind.
To extract value and positivity in every situation, to improve our daily life, our institutions, our efficiency, our processes, our achievements, it is detrimental to understand the 80/20 Principle.
Wondering how to generate goals and focus on the most important ones using the 80/20 Principle?
What Is The 80/20 Principle?
The 80/20 Principle is actually known as the Principle of Imbalance, the Principle of Least Effort or the Pareto Law, uncovered in 1897 by Vilfredo Pareto, an italian economist. In the 19th century, in England, Pareto noticed that 80% of the wealth and income was accumulated by only 20% of the population.
Furthermore, Pareto remarked that the wealth was not evenly distributed and that not only wealth was distributed in this manner. The Pareto Principle was consistently reproducible in different countries, in different times and with different sets of data.
The Pareto Principle :
has been justified by Professor Zipf who demonstrated that 70% of marriages happened to people living 30% within each other.
has been used by Joseph Moses Juran during the industrial revolution, in Japan, in order to improve the quantity, the reliability and the value of customer goods.
is illustrated in every cause to effect relationship. For example,
20% of employees or customers are responsible for 80% of the company profits.
20% of criminals commit 80% of the crimes.
20% of your clothes in your closet will be worn 80% of the time.
80% of our achievements happen in 20% of our time.
According to Richard Koch, author of The 80/20 Principle The secret of achieving more with less, the principle either requires 80/20 Analysis or 80/20 Thinking:
80/20 Analysis: Before taking action, Prior analysis of the non linear relationship between cause and effort. This analysis is time-consuming but more detailed.
80/20 Thinking: Before taking action, intuitively identify what is most important, then verify the usefulness of the 80/20 principle in the given situation. This is faster.
Why It Will Change Your Life
Generally, the 80/20 is used to prioritize, to set goals, to achieve more in less time and with less effort. It can be applied in business, in life, in any social grouping and in various cultures. For instance, in business, it helps you identify the areas where you lose time, money and where it is possible to cut your losses.
To exploit its full potential, the 80/20 principle exerts us to:
Spot the most important and ignore the massive unimportant.
Understand that every action doesn’t lead to the same outcome or even lead to one.
Apply it in business to reduce costs and to generate more revenue.
Putting The Principle Into Practice To Set Tangible Goals
The 80/20 is for those who want more of their life, for the ambitious, for the goal-oriented and for the self-disciplined. Being ambitious is not synonymous to bein overworked, busy, or sacrificing yourself. To harness the 80/20 Principle, to make your dreams more feasible and to grow exponentially in any field:
Discover what you are more enthusiastic about in life.
Avoid investing the same amount of energy in everything that you pursue. Be strategic and identify the best 20% and invest 80% of your effort.
Most people believe that goals are wishes, mere desires that they don’t believe they can achieve. Get clarity and be specific on what you want. There is no unrealistic goals.
Make your goals big. The bigger the goal, the bigger the impact on your life, the higher the motivation and the longer you can maintain the vision.
Make sure that these goals are self-imposed.
Keep your goals simple. Simple is rare but simple is effective. Choose simplicity first. For example, identify the simplest and most standardized product, nurture the simplest 20%, make it high quality and eliminate the rest. In addition, simple businesses are better than complex ones because they deliver better value and perform better.
Find ways to make your goals achievements fun. Avoid spending time on easy tasks and tune out distractions. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said it best: “Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least”.
Avoid focusing on the negative and waiting for a positive outcome. It is necessary to let go of the customers, employees, products and processes that don’t bring profits
Know your values and purpose. Then, align your goals with your values in order to feel more fulfilled.
Analyze the reasons and the costs of these goals beforehand. Applying the 80/20 Analysis will indicate whether or not you would pursue them.
Write down your goals for various parts of your life (career, work processes, leadership styles, lifestyle, health) and accomplish the most important goal. These goals must have value. Writing down goals allows you to solidify them subconsciously and to get everything into place.
Write down what you really want and write it down as if you are writing it from the future, having already achieved your goal.
Work on this one goal all the time. 20 Percent of your activities will result in 80 percent of our results. It is a known fact that you shouldn’t put all your eggs in a basket. Instead, choose the basket to put all your eggs into.
Review these goals on a daily to keep your commitment to yourself.
Divide your goals into smaller steps to make your plan more coherent and easier to achieve.
Identify the obstacles, the knowledge needed, the relationships that you have to build to achieve your goals.
Measure your progress with parameters like money, time, energy, emotional investment. You can even create a deadline. If you miss a deadline, create another one.
Share your goals with those that will implement it.
Last Words Of Advice!
Don’t beat yourself or your team up for not realizing all your goals. Have you used the 80/20 principle and what have you noticed? What is one of the goal that you want to accomplish?
Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!
Don’t forget to like, share and leave a comment below.
When I travel, I don’t like making plans in general.
I rather wander, roam through the streets and get lost so I can ask people my way back, practice a different language, find hidden treasures and test my ability to be resourceful.
Getting lost and finding my way back gives me more confidence in my abilities to successfully take care of myself. I can then return home with the conviction that I can solve anything I put my mind to.
5. You get healed
Travelling provides healing for your entire being and reminds you that there is still beauty in the world.
You acquire the opportunity to get to know yourself better, to try different things, to get out of your attributed role.
You become present and aware of your surroundings.
You listen to yourself more and get in touch with your intuition.
You treasure your experiences more than material things. Your positive memories will help you overcome difficult times.
6. You balance your work and life
Leaders don’t always have time to relax and travel as much as they would want to. Travelling improves your work-life balance because:
You don’t have to worry so much about work and your coworkers.
You remove yourself from toxicity and enjoy people who enjoy you.
You break from your routine and from zombie mode.
You take a well deserved break from your drama.
You recenter yourself and you realize that we are all human beings.
Stress has a direct impact on the corporate culture, on the leader’s leadership style, performance, and health.
People express stress differently: some people get angry, some get exhausted and withdrawn, and others go into fight or flight mode.
11 Best Strategies For Leaders To Fight Workplace Stress
There are several ways to remain calm under pressure, manage your stress and use it to your advantage.
#1. Be more self-aware & develop your emotional discipline
It becomes critical to always take a step back from a situation, seek deeper insights in your thoughts and behaviors to identify stress triggers, weigh out the outcomes of the situation. How important is this situation for you?
In Leaders Eat Last — Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t, Simon Sinek believes that every single employee is capable of becoming a leader, of being remarkable, of exercising courage and sacrifice, of investing into the company, and of finding fulfillment at work.
The General Role Of The Leader
In addition, Simon Sinek considers humans as hunters, organizations as tribes and leaders as those who put order within the tribe.
In modern days, leaders are perceived as dominant, are the ones that eat first, are the ones who make the most money, who get preferential treatment and most importantly are those who are supposed to protect. Indeed, they have more resources at their disposal and have to use it appropriately to ensure the survival of their tribe.
However, for long-lasting results, to gain the loyalty and respect of their employees, they must not consider their well-being above the well-being of the tribe.They must eat last.
It is the role of leaders of an organization to be courageous, to demonstrate empathy, to lay down the foundation for success, to show employees appreciation and to allow them to take appropriate risks.
The Circle Of Safety
The Circle Of Safety contains all the people of an organization. It is a safe space where employees feel fulfilled at work, don’t dread Monday morning, are willing to advance the company’s purpose.
It is an environment of increased commitment, fulfillment, gratitude and happiness, where employees are more relaxed, thrive, collaborate and work for each other.
In the Circle Of Safety, leaders and employees share the same values, pull their respective loads and are committed to the Circle.
Everyone feels valued by their peers, they know that their colleagues have their backs, they believe that they belong to something greater than themselves, that they can safely drive innovation, share ideas and express themselves freely.
By the same token, employees and leaders must independently weigh their decisions and ponder whether or not their decisions are beneficial to the group. It is wise to remember that working toward individualistic goals will hurt the group.
Leaders In The Circle Of Safety
Besides, leaders are the gatekeepers of the Circle. They set the standards, they decide who gets in and who stays at the door.
To create safety, leaders have to meet certain conditions and build a soothing company culture. Company culture in modern days is unnatural because they go against all natural needs, instincts, rights for safety and fulfillment.
If leaders want to create a Circle Of Safety, to establish an innovative, stable, robust, lasting, successful company, they must:
Understand that employees are not a means to an end and shouldn’t be exploited.
Increase employee cohesion and inclusion.They must no longer fear each other but must be willing to fight external challenges together. Moreover, there is power in numbers: when challenges arise, employees in the Circle Of Safety must put all their differences aside to reach a common goal.
Avoid placing money above people but place people above everything else.
Remember that they are the models for the organization. Therefore, they must define a clear set of values and beliefs for themselves and for their employees.
Inject empathy into the workplace culture and treat everyone fairly. This will make both employees and leaders more human, and make work more enjoyable.
Extend trust to earn trust. Trust also lies in the fact that leaders know when to follow the rules and when to break them in order to guarantee the safety of their employees.
Help people solve problems.They will in turn, help each other.
Listen to their employees.
Protect their employees internal conflicts and promote collaboration.
The Feasibility Of The Circle Of Safety
Making people feel safe, putting their well-being first is idealistic but impractical.
On one hand, people work out of necessity, are willing to stay in a job that they hate to provide for themselves and for their loved ones. They don’t want to selflessly commit to and invest themselves into the company. They are reluctant to put forth the time and effort because they are not in control and might not receive the proper rewards.
On the other hand, it is quasi difficult to find organizations that genuinely care for their employees safety and well-being. Most of them tend to care more about reaching numbers and are willing to sacrifice people to get there.
The truth is most companies and leaders display poor character and induce a stressful and fearful culture. Employee disengagement, high employee turnover and health problems ensue.
Abundance and Abstraction
Finally, when leaders have everything in abundance, which is often the case today, they lose the real value of things.
As a consequence, the more their companies grow, the more they are out of touch with their employees and their consumers, the less they empathize with them. To solve this abstraction, leaders should:
Get to know their employees personally. Investing time and energy in them will transpire as appreciation.
Observe the real impact and results of their time and effort, alongside their employees’. This will consequently increase everybody’s quality of work.
Give people the time needed to trust, to find their way and place with the Circle Of Safety.
The Influence Of The Company Culture
The culture severely impacts the survival of the company. When there are no values, no principles, no particular beliefs, when the culture is based on numbers, reports and performance, the company is doomed to fail.
Moreover, leaders with poor character fabricate a bad culture that in turn breeds bad leaders. This is why, leaders are required to:
Rely on integrity and trust, spend time with the people they serve and shift their focus to the latter.
Find someone to lean on and to help them through hardships.
Discover their life purpose.
Work hard for what they have in order to value it.
Hold on to their responsibilities.
Simon Sinek, in Leaders Eat Last — Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t, provides an innovative leadership strategy to build a successful organization, to increase employee engagement and fulfillment.
In this great book, Sinek places people at the forefront of the company and demonstrates that building a company from the ground up takes on a whole new sense. He believes that leaders have to take care of the well-being of their employees first and their employees will take care of the rest.
Besides, he doesn’t claim to be an idealist, to believe that all workers love their jobs and that all leaders treat their employees well. He understands that most people work out of necessity.
Lastly, he analyzes our biological needs and transposes them to the modern working world. Our natural needs are powerful forces that we cannot control.
In our modern world, advancing our careers and trying to find happiness and fulfillment are the definition of success. But the systems inside us that guide our behavior and decisions still function as they did tens of thousands of years ago. Our primitive minds still perceive the world around us in terms of threats to our well-being or opportunities to find safety.
Being a leader is like being a parent, and the company is like a new family to join. One that will care for us like we are their own . . . in sickness and in health. And if we are successful, our people will take on our company’s name as a sign of the family to which they are loyal.
This feeling of belonging, of shared values and a deep sense of empathy, dramatically enhances trust, cooperation and problem solving.
Quite often, what’s good for one is not necessarily good for the other. Working exclusively to advance ourselves may hurt the group, while working exclusively to advance the group may come at a cost to us as individuals.
Leadership is about integrity, honesty and accountability. All components of trust.