The leadership ratio

There is a ratio leaders should be aware of. Whether you have defined it or not, I’m not sure. The ratio is how much technical work you can do as compared to how much people work you need to do. It’s an inverse proportion. If you are the team leader for a three person team (you plus two others), then you simply have more time to work on technical tasks than others who have more direct reports. Once you start getting four, five, six or more people on your team, the ratio dictates that the amount of technical work you have time to do should go way down. I say *should* because I know many leaders who don’t abide (unlike The Dude). They stay face down in the technical work and then run out of time to do the people work. One-on-one meetings get missed, feedback disappears, staffing plans are not done, hiring (and firing) is delayed, etc. And the problem–the problem–with that approach is that the leader is creating a work vortex. They have a lot of technical work to start, then someone on their team stumbles and the leader takes on some of the extra work, then somebody leaves, then a new project comes in, and so on. The leader gets upside-down. Yes, the people work is hard to quantify, but respect the ratio for long term success.

by Jonathan Wilson

Jonathan is the Head Coach at Sandcastle Company, a Seattle-based leadership training organization. His first book, Future Leader: Rebooting Leadership to Win the Millennial and Tech Future [link], is now available. Jonathan regularly writes and speaks about The New Leader Way, leadership resilience, and the future of work. He has years of leadership experience in both the public and private sectors, a master's degree from Seattle University, and professional coach training from the University of Miami.

Filed under: Leadership

Published on March 22, 2019

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