The One Principle That Improved The Effectiveness Of My Leadership

Though there are many things that a leader needs to do well, there was one thing that I struggled to master. Not having a good grasp on this caused me to limit the influence I had with others. Most of all, learning and applying this concept allowed me to see things in a new light and forever changed me. Let’s get plugged into leadership!

It is a simple idea, named the Pareto Principle. Maybe you have heard of this principle before and never gave it much thought. Perhaps, like me, you don’t even know what this is. Save your google search for the end.

Simply stated it says 20% of your priorities will give you 80% of your production, IF you spend your time, energy, money, and personnel on the top 20% of your priorities. Simple to get, but I find it is much harder to apply.

John Maxwell has a full chapter on this idea in his book “Developing the Leader within you”. He also discusses it as part of Law 17 The Law of Priorities in his best-selling book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. I suggest grabbing one of these books and reading it from start to finish. I find it best to read it with a group of people and discuss each chapter as you go. This is what we, at the John Maxwell Team, call a Mastermind. Contact me for more details about the next one.  If you are going to attempt to apply this principle the first thing you need to do is sit down and set some goals. Set some personal goals, career goals, family goals, or whatever type of goal you’d like. Once you have done the hard work of setting goals now it is time to prioritize your time, energy, and resources accordingly. John says “It’s not how hard you work; it’s how smart you work”.

There are a ton more details in the chapters I mentioned above, but I’d like to share a few starter questions you can answer to get you started.

1. What is required of me?
What do you have to do that no one else can do but you? These things should be the highest priority. If you are a leader it could be things like casting vision, assembling the team, securing resources and modeling leadership. Distinguish between what you have to do and what can be delegated to someone else. This was the hardest question for me to answer. One thing that Maxwell used as a guide was asking “can someone do this 80% as good as I can?” If the answer is, yes, he would delegate it. Just this simple thing helped me so much.

2. What gives me the greatest return?
When you look at your team are you getting the results you expect from the amount of work that is happening? Maxwell suggests asking yourself “Am I doing what I do best and receiving a good return for the organization?” Terms like “best” and “good” need to be evaluated through the lens of your goal. If your goal is to have 1000 people attend your weekend services, but you have been stuck at 500 for years, it might be time to look at what you are doing, and asking yourself this question.

3. What is most rewarding?
What would you do for free? When you are the happiest, what are you doing? These are important questions! For me, I love to learn, teach others, and help them succeed. I did it all the time! I watched hours of Youtube videos and read book after book on apologetics, leadership, business and many other subjects.  John says that once you find that thing, do it until people pay you to do it. I have spend years learning, living what I have learned, and now I want to lead others to that learning. What is that one thing that lights you up?


A solid understanding of the Prieto Principle improved the effectiveness of my leadership, and it can improve yours too. Set some goals and follow the three R’s – Requirements/Return/Reward. Remember, the work is not all on you, as it can (and should) be delegated, your efforts should be effective (and efficient), and passion is the key to making something great (so determine what work makes you happiest). If you follow these steps, you will be amazed by the power of the Prieto Principle when applied to your leadership methods.


As always, if you have questions or need help, click here to see if I can be of service.


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