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  • Jonathan Parker

Great Leaders Understand the 80/20 Rule


I remember going to the movie theater as a teenager to watch the movie Titanic, an epic-romance film about the night the Titanic sunk in 1912 after striking an iceberg. The ship that was believed to be unsinkable sustained damaged below the water line after striking an iceberg, and now rests 12,000 feet below the surface.

The picture of an iceberg presents a powerful lesson on leadership. Only about 20% of the iceberg is visible above the surface of the water. The other 80% is hidden below the surface.

According to Ken Blanchard in The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do, "Leadership is a lot like an iceberg. Below the water is the character of a leader. Above the water are the skills of the leader." He goes on to point out that many years ago, ships were sunk by striking the part of the iceberg that wasn't seen. "Character - or lack of it - is still the nemesis of most leaders in our world today."

Great leaders who understand the 80/20 rule will spend a proportionate amount of time developing their character in a day when most people simply focus on skills. Think of our professional athletes, movie stars, music stars...all have great skills but few have the character or morals worthy of being emulated. They present one divorce, drug overdose, domestic dispute, or disastrous headline after another.

Consider addressing motives, morality, self-control, patience, attitude, emotions, and temper.

If you want to be great; if you want your organization to be great, then focusing on developing the character that can withstand disaster and sustain success.

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