Developing Habits that Make You a Better Manager/Leader

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Developing Habits that Make You a Better Manager/Leader


Sean: What would be something that you would suggest for people to build into their habit routine to become a better leader and manager at the same time with their work or career?

Darby: Yeah, so I think it’s going to be different for everybody. However, what I would say is that what everybody should focus on because this is related to habits is, as you analyze, like sitting down and thinking about what are the activities that you do throughout every day. And I mean, like the main things you do to accomplish what it is you do at work, to accomplish your goals as a company or whatever. What are the things you’re doing every single day? Just list out everything and then go through that list and pick whatever that top 20% is. Now, this list, depending on how big it is, could be 10 things. It could be 20, it could be 5, it could be 2, whatever that is. Find the top 20% of activities. A lot of times folks will call these high payoff activities. And those activities are the things you should be setting as habits that you complete first every single day.

Darby: The reason being is, you’ve heard of the 80-20 rule. So the idea behind this is that this guy named Vilfredo Pareto in the late 1800s came up with this idea. He was studying wealth distribution in Italy, and he basically determined that 20% of all people held 80% of the wealth, which this holds true today, maybe even more lopsided than that. But eventually, he obviously didn’t call it that. Eventually it became known as the Pareto principle. And what we know is the 80-20 rule. And basically what it says is that 20%, no matter what it is, 20% of activity results in 80% of the results.

Darby: So Microsoft uses this to their advantage. They determined early on that 20% of all their bugs accounted for 80% of their support calls. So what that meant was, if they went back and only focused on those 20% first, they could eliminate the bulk of their support calls. And it worked. This applies to customers. 20% of your customers usually account for 80% of your sales. 20% of your products account for 80% of your revenue. It may not be exactly that ratio anymore, but that’s the idea.

Darby: So in your life and in your daily activities, if those highest 20% of things account for 80% of your results, do those first every day, build those into your habit. Because if you accomplish that 20% and you don’t get to some of the other things each day, at least you are 80% of the way there – on completing and helping you achieve success.

Darby: The other part about that is, that those things will change over time, based on your priorities, based on your career. So you should be reassessing those every now and then. You should be sitting down and making a list of everything and then figuring out the top things and constantly reassessing them because they will change and they’re different for each individual. So my list I would not list in my high payoff activities checking email. It’s probably not for a lot of us. However, if you’re an executive assistant that works for a CEO whose main goal is to direct the email and sort that out for their CEO to keep them focused on higher level things. If that’s their role, then that may be in their high payoff activities. So it’s different for everybody.

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