10-80-10 Leadership

Today I want to talk to you about one of my favorite principles and it’s called 10-80-10 leadership. Now, this can be used in a lot of different contexts, but the one I’m going to show you is how to get it done with projects within your life or business.

Imagine that you decide that there’s a new initiative, something that you need to implement in the company and it’s going to require a group effort. It’s going to require multiple people or divisions to pull it off. The first 10% is clarifying the vision for the project, why it exists, and what it’s going to do for the company. If you’re the leader, you want buy-in, you want people to understand why they’re putting their time and resources into this idea. Spend the time truly articulating this and you’ll find it sets the next step up for much smoother success. What is it that we’re doing and why?

Next, the 80%. This is where the work has to be done. As you know, if you’re the CEO of a company, your job isn’t always to do the work. Your job is to make sure that the work is done. The 80% is where the members of the team divide and conquer. They’re going to divide up and ultimately decide how to build out and implement the project. One mistake CEOs and leaders make here is offering too much guidance. Getting involved in the 80% can screw up the flow and creativity of your team. Let them figure this out. Leadership isn’t about teaching others what to think. It’s about teaching them how to think. Unless you absolutely know they are heading down the wrong path stay out of this part of the process.

The last 10% is where the leader returns to review, revise, and ultimately sign off. What they’re doing is looking at the work that was done in the 80% and asking a very simple question, is this what we set out to accomplish? And if not, what do we need to tweak? What needs to be added and/or changed? Now, this isn’t an opportunity to be a perfectionist because perfection is the enemy of done. This section of the process allows the leader to relax knowing that the project will not go fully into implementation until the leader has laid eyes on it.

One helpful example of this process can be found in a fine restaurant. Recently, I was having dinner with a group of four friends and my wife Rochelle. We were seated at a table that faced the kitchen. It was so amazing. The sights, the smells, the team working in an orchestra with each other were fascinating to watch. One thing I noticed was the head chef and his role. He was not behind the line preparing meals or chopping veggies. He was standing on the other side carefully observing each dish before it went out making certain that each one was up to his standards while adding a few finishing touches. This was the real 10-80-10 leadership process at work.

The Head Chef designs the menu, the team cooks it, and then he reviews, revises, and ultimately sends it out. A great restaurant that doesn’t follow this process is going to be hard-pressed to keep up with the demands of a full dining room. Just as the leader of a company will have the same challenges.

We all have roles to play inside of our companies and households. As leader get familiar with this question…

Am I the Chef or the Cook?

So, there you have it. One of my all-time, favorite principles, is 10-80-10 leadership. Try it out. Let me know what you think.