80/20 Rules

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Many of you are familiar with Pareto's Principle, or the 80/20 Rule.

This principle can be applied universally to a number of different situations, but application relating to this article roughly translates to 80% of an organization's personnel challenges are generated by 20% of its people. In contrast, 80% of that same organization's people do not require the "intense leadership" required of the other 20%.

Obviously, there are differing perspectives on whether and/or how this can be used to compliment leadership styles. My position, however, is that it can enhance, and should be used, with a more concentrated, yet limited focus on the 20% group.

Our younger generations are entering the Air Force with natural skills that are vital to our missions. However, some seem to continuously struggle to make the transition to Air Force standards and requirements. This is one of the key areas where focused leadership comes into play. Leadership by example setting, inspiration, mentorship, and obviously, patience, are just a few of the tools worth mentioning.

As time and other resources continue to become more scarce, self-driven, maximum-effort teammanship becomes progressively more critical to an organization's efficiency.

On the other hand, autonomy and trust hover somewhere near the top of a true leader's desires. While it's apparent that this is an earned status, this group represents the 80%, and in many ways they work diligently to achieve or maintain that status. For this group, reinforcing desired behavior, recognition, and yes, even more tasks and challenges, are all validations that your organization values your contributions.

Suffice it to say that any substantially-sized organization has their 80/20 groups. In an attempt to make positive changes to this ratio and become more efficient, leaders need to understand how those numbers fill out their organizations, and of equal importance, members need to understand which of these groups they fall into.

We've all heard the phrase "either you're part of the problem, or you're part of the solution", and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that solutions are much more desirable than problems.

Leaders, take charge!