Category Archives: Leadership Strategies

The 90/10 Leader


For those of you who haven’t heard of him, Jeffrey A. Fox is a management and executive consultant, and a great leadership author. I enjoy reading his books for a number of reasons, some of which are because he succinctly gets to the core point of what he’s saying. Each chapter is a precious nugget of richness, solid in truth and invaluable to those yearning to grow.

While not his latest book, “How To Be A Great Boss” is a read that I have thoroughly enjoyed every page of the way. One of the chapters hits the nail on the head about where your time should be spent among your people. It’s entitled “Spend 90% of Your Time With Your Best People”.

It seems that so much of leaders’ time that they spend on their staff is consumed with the so-called “high maintenance” employees. They are the ones that literally cost the company precious time and money due to their lack of performance, disruptive behavior, or both. A few years back I reported to a C-level executive who confided in me that 80% of their time was lost constantly on 20% of their “problem children”. While they didn’t know how to swing that around (and couldn’t see how they themselves had created this culture that they were drowning in), I used my personal experience to shed some light and help them understand what Jeffrey Fox layed out for the rest of us.

Years ago I knew a manager who was charged with creating a new department for an entertainment company. This department was an offshoot of an existing one, yet it was to run co-dependently at first then become self-sufficient within 60 days. It was an on-the-fly task that was literally dumped on him; part of his benefit package for being promoted.

The staff that he and his supervisory team were given were the employees that none of the other supervisors wanted to invest time in. They were deemed “unproductive” and by jettisoning them to this new area, they were relieved of any further obligation to work with these employees. So this manager had a staff of about 50 untrained and unmotivated employees to start a department with.

He immediately started to recognize three types of employees: those that worked hard no matter what, those that worked well but not always consistent, and those that were never motivated and failed to do the job at all. Unconsciously, he started investing the bulk of his time with the hard workers, as he needed them to anchor the day to day tasks. He then spend most of the rest of his time with the second group, realizing that they had potential but were never properly trained or shown they had value. He did spend time with the unmotivated group, mostly in corrective action, but never let them consume his valuable time.

Well, a peculiar trend started to happen in this manager’s new department. He noticed that the hard workers dug in and worked harder, and set a great attitude and pace for the entire team. He then saw that the middle group felt needed because they were given attention finally, and, seeing the first group energized, started to perform on a pace close to the hard workers. But what the manager saw in the unmotivated group literally shocked him. He noted that many of these workers, previously deemed problematic, started to perk up and step up their game. Their attitude and performance improved remarkably. When asked, they generally said that they had never been a part of such a team before, and didn’t want to be left out, or left behind. Granted, there were a few dissenters that needed to be groomed out, but the vast majority clicked with the team dynamic and their first year brought incredible sales success and profitability that they did not forecast they would attain for at least 3 years.

By focusing on your 90%, Fox states, you invest in the biggest return in your company. If you invested in those underperforming stocks, you would most certainly look for better returns in higher potential stocks. Why should it be any different with your staff? Invest where it counts, and you’ll be surprised at the results. And so will your team.


Guest Post by Jack Quarles: Decision-Making: A Hidden Source of Fatigue and Inefficiency


Today’s post is offered by Jack Quarles, author whose new book “Expensive Sentences” launches this week. 

In “Expensive Sentences”, Jack’s lays out how terms like “It’s too late to turn back now”, “We trust them”, and “it’s crazy busy around here”  are cliched wisdom that offers nothing more than wasted time, excuses, and lost opportunity. Jack breaks apart these phrases and challenges our thinking to reject how we fall back on those mindsets that cost us tremendously.


In honor of his book launch (which I highly recommend you get a copy), Jack has offered the following post about how we process decisions each day. 


Let me take you back for a minute. Can you remember the first week of your current job, or the first month you lived in a new city?

If you’re able to recollect your state of mind in those days, it probably included a good measure of exhaustion. You were tired.

Part of the reason change is so exhausting is that a new environment deprives us of routine and habit. At a new job, for example, we can’t go get a cup of coffee on autopilot, because we may not even know where the coffee is. We can’t drift through a normal day because there is no normal yet… we have to learn about our environment and make decisions on how to spend our time.

Decisions Require Energy

Decisions take energy. The more decisions we have to make, the more tired we are likely to become. It’s also true that our energy to make decisions is finite; there are only so many high-quality decisions we can make in any one day. With this in mind, we might consider how many decisions we have on our plate, and when we have them.

Rob Hatch says “decisions are distractions.” That’s not to say that decisions are unimportant and can simply be ignored. Yet we can and should manage when and how we make our decisions.

One application of managing decisions is used in many different approaches of time management: task planning. Your morning will be almost certainly be more productive if you decided what your priorities and plan was the night before.

If you arrive at your desk with an open slate, it’s easy to spend 45 minutes spinning in startup mode and sorting through different tasks to figure out the right order. On the other hand, when you are looking at a list that tells you your top priorities and the order of their importance, no motion is wasted on wondering where to begin.

What is your Plan?

Can you make your plan for tomorrow morning? Or, if you’re already into the day, try taking ten minutes to plan the next three hours. Then follow through on your plan, and look back at the end of the day.

Did your focused “deciding session” make you more productive?


 Jack Quarles is a speaker, trainer, consultant, and author of Amazon #1 bestsellers How Smart Companies Save Money and Same Side Selling, as well as the upcoming Expensive Sentences. He has saved companies tens of millions of dollars over two decades in the field of expense management. Jack has co-founded several companies, serves on two non-profit boards, and received degrees from Yale and Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Business. Connect with Jack on LinkedIn or Twitter (@JackQuarlesJQ).  

(image courtesy of Weaving Influence)

More Than “Profit” – Beyond The 3 P’s


The TV series “The Profit” which has aired for 4 seasons features Marcus Lemonis’ principles on how a successful business should operate.

He centers each business that he hope to strike a deal with and help succeed around his 3 P Principles:

  • People
  • Product
  • Procedures

These 3 P’s are a vital recipe for any organization to succeed. People are your core resource and by far the most important component. Their skills and talents will expand your own reach and be the face of the company. Product (and/or service offers) is the medium in which the business exists; having the right product or service that meets or exceeds the market need will perpetuate your impact in the industry. And your procedures of how you produce, serve, and sell dictate how you show up at the marketplace each day.

However, there are 2 key P’s that are even more vital and are an umbrella to these 3 foundation principles. Those are the principles of:

  • Purpose
  • Promotion

Purpose can be defined as mission, vision, culture, and/or core values. Simon Sinek has defined this as the “Why?” Purpose gives the reason for existing, selling, and serving your customers that elevates the work to a broader scope. Purpose will get your people engaged, drive goals, and dovetail the macro-purpose of the organization with the micro-purpose that your people willingly bring to their jobs. Your purpose may be to hire great people that manufacture great tech products that enrich other’s lives. It may be to provide quality training to industry professionals that causes a positive disruption in their lives or industry. Purpose should thread through every other core value you identify.

Promotion is a three-fold principle. It’s the building of the brand in a marketing sense, yes. Promoting the durability of a new tire, the flavor of a bold new recipe, or the attentive service in your hotel differentiate your brand, but it’s the other two arms of promotion that drive your business to greater heights. First is the promotion of your brand in it’s execution. Sometimes your most crucial marketing is how your procedures add to the value of your product or service. If you fail to have a reliable delivery schedule, or quality issues, no amount of marketing can compensate for that. Procedures executed consistently and successfully will give you confidence to market externally. Secondly is promotion of your people. Not just in the developing of your people into greater roles, but in the making of your people be the face of your company. Your frontline staff is who your customers see – sales, delivery, direct care personnel. By featuring them in your internal and external websites and being the ringleader that promotes their star acts, promoting your people will show how you value them and will pay dividends in their engagement of your company and your customers.

Making these 2 P’s as the wraparound of the central 3 P’s, you will ensure you can consistently deliver what Lemonis’s title states” profit.

Determine to give Purpose and Promotion to your People, Product, and Procedures. Connecting these parts will ensure an organization that performs well.

(image: pixaby)

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