Accountability and Responsibility

Revisiting the “80/20 rule”

I had lunch recently with a friend who referenced the “80/20 rule” because someone had referenced it to her.  When we compared notes on what it means, we realized that neither of us was entirely sure. I realized in that moment that the term “80/20 rule” is part of my vocabulary but I have lost touch with it’s actual meaning. In the spirit of “Words Matter,” a blog I posted in September last year, I thought it was time to revisit the meaning of these words. In addition, I closed out 2014 by asking the question, “how are you spending the 24 hours you are given each day?” and this concept of “80/20 rule” is completely relevant, as I know that it relates to focus and leveraging time for the greatest impact and value.

What I re-discovered about the “80/20 rule” also known as the Pareto Principle, is that it means that 80% of the effect comes from 20% of the causes. 80% of the sales comes from 20% of the customers. 80% of the complaints come from 20% of the clients. 80% of the sales come from 20% of the products. In other words, as it relates to time management and focus…focus on the 20% that matters. Focus on the 20% that will drive results.

I, in fact, had this wrong. I was operating under the belief that 80% matters, so don’t sweat the last 20%. My interpretation was that once you get to 80%, the effort to achieve that last 20% going from 80 to 100% was not a good return on investment of time. Based upon this incorrect interpretation or recollection of what the “80/20 rule” means, I was devoting my attention to 80% rather […]

Who do you want to be in 2015?


Last week I reflected on the question of how we each spend the 24 hours we are given each day. I am going to continue this line of reflection as we move into 2015, with the annual opportunity to define new beginnings. What are we going to finally start or stop doing? What New Year’s Resolution can I put into place that is going to have a profound and significant impact on the quality of my life? The challenge that many of us share is that we live in overly-scheduled, overly-demanding worlds that make it difficult to pack in all that we desire. My life is no different. I don’t have time to do all that I desire to do? Or do I?

I found a compelling answer in a book called Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul authored by Bill Hybels. Last August I attended the Willow Creek Global Leadership Conference led by Bill about which I wrote two blog postings at the time (What kind of leader do you want to be? and Words Matter). I found the conference to be inspiring and engaging that challenged my thinking on a number of topics. In Simplify, Bill reframed the question that we often ask ourselves as we manage the exploding demands on our time. Rather than asking “what am I going to do today, this week, this month, or this year”…ask “who do I want to BE at the end of today, this week, this month or this year?” As I evaluate each opportunity regarding how I spend my time against the question of who I want to BE, what I choose to do becomes much more clear. The question of who I want to […]

What Kind Of a Leader Do You Want To Be?

Welcome to JoinDrPam.  After months of not blogging, I attended the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit last month and was profoundly inspired, both personally and professionally.  To learn more about this annual event please visit the Willow Creek website.  The next few blog posts will address topics on which I have been reflecting for the past few weeks.  The first installment of this set of musings asks the question, “What kind of leader do you want to be?

Bill Hybels, Founder and Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church characterizes two kinds of leaders.  Legacy Leaders act as owners and have a grand vision for what they want to achieve.  Legacy Leaders are working for the greater good, and are concerned with the gifts they will leave behind.

Alternatively, Bill spoke of Hirelings, defined as people who work purely for personal material reward — ladder-climbers.  Hirelings, unlike Legacy Leaders, have no concern for leaving great gifts. but rather, only concern for receiving great gifts.

I suggest that there is a third kind of leader: the Lame Duck Leader.  Lame Duck most commonly refers to a political leader approaching the end of his or her term, but an alternate definition is someone who is in a game, cannot win, yet remains in the game.  Unlike a politician with term limits, a Lame Duck Leader is someone without term limits, who is not retiring or a short-termer waiting for his or her successor to take the reins.  This leader is simply coming to work everyday clocking in and out. This leader is neither building a legacy, nor lining his or her pockets, but is simply hanging on and hanging around.

As I reflect on these three kinds of leaders, I find it […]

Building A Culture One Coaching Conversation At A Time

Welcome to JoinDrPam.  For the past several weeks we have focused on some of the challenges and opportunities of leadership: the dark side of performance differentiation, how leaders show up during turbulent times, and how leaders can build culture through coaching.   This week I want to continue the discussion regarding how leaders build culture, focused more specifically on building a culture of personal accountability.

Culture has been defined as “how we do things around here and what we value.”  Leaders signal what they value by how they spend their time and what they focus on.  As such, I think the questions that leaders ask as they walk around and engage with employees are critical. Additionally, how they respond both in the moment, and over time, to what they hear during those walk abouts will influence culture.

One of the questions that leaders are taught to ask in order to show concern and to connect to the front line employee is “what can we do to make your job easier?” Maybe the question that leaders should be asking to drive cultures of ownership and accountability is “what are you doing to improve your ability to do your job, and how can I help?” Firstly, is it the job of a leader to make other people’s jobs easier?  Some jobs are tough! Secondly, is it the job of the leader to identify those things which will improve the ability of the employee to have impact and deliver value?  Finally, once employees have identified their needs, perhaps it is the job of the leader to wherever possible help them meet those needs.  And when it is not possible to deliver on what people have asked for, how can the leader coach others to accept […]

Great Leadership = Culture of High Performance?

Welcome to JoinDrPam.  The blogs for the last few weeks have been dedicated to questions about leadership, and the great impact that leaders have on driving performance excellence.  This week’s question is, “Does great leadership always lead to a culture of high performance or a magnetic culture, as Kevin Sheridan, author of Building A Magnetic Culture would say?”

Certainly a great leader has tremendous influence over the culture for a particular team or segment of the business…what some refer to as climate. But what if a great leader, who might create a great climate for his or her team, is operating with (1) unmotivated, low accountable people, or (2) within an organization that creates barriers to creating a high performing team or culture?
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Teams are made up of individuals, and all individuals are not created equal in terms of their commitment to be high performing and to deliver results. Even a great leader cannot motive people to perform if it is against their will to do so, as motivation is an internal drive that develops within a person and not from external drivers. Once someone is motivated or committed to perform, a great leader can (1) understand and leverage what motivates them, (2) create an environment or climate to make the most of their desire to contribute, (3) tie what motivates them to the needs of the business, (4) manage organizational roadblocks that will interfere with their ability to contribute and (5) reward those that are already committed and motivated to contribute and succeed (external reinforcement).

#5 above is the one that can create a dilemma for leaders, depending upon the corporate reward structure, and how much autonomy the individual leader has for allocating […]

How Do You Show Up During Turbulent Times?


Welcome back to JoinDrPam.  If you missed my 4-part blog series exploring the potentially negative outcomes of traditional performance management systems and processes…check it out.  We covered role definition, goal setting, performance management, and compensation.

This week I am recalling an article I read back in January, and exploring an interesting leadership question: How do you show up during turbulent times?


On  January 20, 2014 Glenn Llopis shared 7 Ways Leaders Maintain Their Composure During Difficult Times in  In the article, Llopis shares that it is important for leaders to “avoid showing any signs of leadership immaturity…that will make…employees feel unsafe and insecure.”  I could not agree more. I often think about flight attendants during a flight.  The last thing you want to see as a passenger is a flight attendant…the person you rely on for your safety…showing fear, anxiety or concern when the plane hits that inevitable turbulence.  It is the same thing in the workplace…we look for signals from our leaders during turbulent times that things are going to be OK.  We look for mature leaders!

The 7 tips for maintaining composure are: (1) Don’t Allow Your Emotions To Get In the Way, (2) Don’t Take Things Personally, (3) Keep A Positive Mental Attitude, (4) Remain Fearless, (5) Respond Decisively, (6) Take Accountability, and (7) Act Like You Have Been there Before.

While they are all clearly important for a leader, I particularly like #s 1, 4 and 6.  If leaders can maintain their composure, project confidence, and assume responsibility for solving the problems at hand…people will follow them anywhere.

What do you think?

Dr. Pam

The Dark Side Of Performance Differentiation


Welcome back to JoinDrPam.  Over the last few weeks we have explored some of the potentially unintended negative consquences of traditional talent management systems.  If you missed this 4-part series, check it out.  We covered role definition, goal setting, performance management, and compensation.  The next few weeks will be dedicated to some of the challenges of leadership.

What’s one of the toughest jobs of a leader?  Making the tough decisions that impact people’s lives… strategic choices, tactical decisions, resource allocation decisions, and perhaps the most difficult of all…the decision to terminate someone’s employment. Part of managing talent is sometimes making the tough decisions.

Good Leaders Fire People is the title of a December 27, 2013 post on LinkedIn, and a month later it has been viewed 13,377 times, with 609 Likes and 272 Comments.

The fact that we still need to state what seems obvious, and that so many people want to engage in online dialogue about this, may be somewhat surprising.  Some things just seem self evident and not worth discussing anymore.  In the competitive business environment in which we live today, with limited resources (both financial and human), is it surprising that the notion that good leaders fire people is at all novel? Managing and differentiating performance of our people has been a leader’s job since the beginning of time.  One could argue that it is a given that good leaders have to fire people.

But people are still discussing it, so the question I want to pursue is WHY?  Maybe it is because while we all love the positive side of performance differentiation, which is that we get to reward and recognize our top performers, there is the dark side of performance differentiation…dealing with the low performers…and that is hard.

When leaders don’t […]