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80/20 Principle in Leadership

AUDIO: How the Rule of 80-20 can Exceed Your Imagination

by Greg Yates | Breakthrough Leadership

How to become the most effective version of YOU.

What do you do when your stress level is going up and the quality of your work is going down? Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin?

I got angry. I wish I could say it was calculated and that I had mulled a clear strategy all the way through. They were one of our largest customers and the idea of losing their volume scared me to death. They were also completely impossible to keep happy. We ran on a tight schedule and with our cellular operations a change in our spinning department meant a change in our paint line and assembly schedule. A lot of people were affected.

The customer was a nationally known company. We manufactured safety equipment for them and it was lucrative work. Still, at times I didn’t know if it was worth dealing with their purchasing agent. Then it happened.

I walked into the front office and Martha was crying. I found out that she had just been chewed out by that same purchasing agent. It pushed me over the edge. I told her to call him back. I took the phone and informed him that their tooling would be at the loading dock ready for pickup by the end of the day, and their rush orders could be fulfilled by someone else. I was not going to tolerate his abuse of our people any longer. I hung up before he could respond.

I went to the shop floor and shut down the job currently running, giving instruction for the tooling to be consolidated. I was mad. I had put up with this for long enough. Yes, I thought they were a 20% customer, one that was key to our business, and I had just thrown them out the door. As my adrenaline cooled, I remembered hearing it is five times harder to get a new customer than to keep an old one. But, I also knew that it was an intolerably painful relationship.

I wish I could say that it was a well-planned decision based on the 80/20 rule. The truth is, it was an impulse that accidentally flowed into the 20% and showed me the power of being willing to focus there. Within the week our prices had been upgraded and our relationship with the customer had found new parameters.

Become Unwilling to Settle in Order to Leverage the 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 rule exceeded my imagination when I became unwilling to settle for a customer who was creating 80% of our stress. This was less about the customer and more about my comprehension of the power of the 80/20 rule as it applied to our business.

Staying True to the 80/20 Rule will Multiply Your Efforts

The 80/20 rule works the same way in life.

20% of your decisions are getting 80% of your good results. That means 80% of your decisions are only keeping you busy!

80/20 is just a concept. I believe it’s possible for this equation, used properly, to create a sum that exceeds 100%.

My dad used to take me to watch horse pulls. You’ve probably never seen one. It’s amazing to watch these huge animals struggle to drag these weighted sleds. Two horses on a team can pull more than four times what one horse can pull alone. It’s a proven fact. That’s the way I’ve experienced the 80/20 principle in my life.

I haven’t always gotten it right, though. 80/20 is a lever. It can also work against you. 20% of your bad decisions can leverage 80% of your trouble.

80/20 can exceed your imagination because you imagine that 100% is the limit. But, 80/20 began with God and his relationship with us.

Choose Your Battles Wisely

Be aware of the 80/20 at work in your life. Instead of being burned out, become the influential, game-changing leader you were created to be. Only 20% of your efforts will lead to Breakthrough. Choose wisely.

Add your comments to the conversation: What is one area you need to focus more of your leadership efforts on each day? What’s one area you need to stop focusing on? Post your reply below.

About Greg

Greg Yates has been a Chicago area businessman for over 30 years. He’s the author of the book, "Broken - How Being Broken Unlocked The Greatest Success of My Life". He has simultaneously owned 14 different businesses in a variety of industries; including real estate, manufacturing, payroll, and technology. Greg has also been an investor and a board member. He attended Olivet Nazarene University. He has a passion for flying. He’s had a pilot’s license for over 30 years and owned a variety of airplanes. Greg and his wife Vicki have been married over 37 years. They have a son, a daughter and seven grandchildren.

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