If you’re like me, you were taught to give 100%, or even 110% effort. According to the Harvard Business Review, that’s wrong.
The best leaders demand 85% effort. Why? Because it’s the optimal level of effort for achieving maximum results. This so-called 85% rule counterintuitively suggests that to reach maximum output, you need to refrain from giving maximum effort. Operating at 100% effort all of the time will result in burnout and ultimately less-optimal results.
Instead of “maximum effort = maximum results,” a better formula is: “optimal effort = maximum results.” And that optimal effort is about 85%.
The most important thing you can do as a leader is model 85% effort. It will not only help you do your best work, it will encourage others to do the same. What does this look like?
Determine what 85% intensity looks like for you. This likely includes taking regular breaks and avoiding working more than 10 hours in a day, if possible. For example, you might take a couple hours off in the afternoon so you can be at your best for an evening meeting. Then, let those you lead know how you are managing your time.
I served as the Executive Director of a nonprofit for 23 years. In my 10th year I started running. It became part of a morning routine where I did spiritual practices, focused work, then exercise. It also meant that I was routinely arriving at the office at 9:30 or 10am.
At first, I felt guilty about this. Was I setting a bad example? I knew that I was actually more productive and less likely to burnout, but I wondered what people would think. In the end, I just told people what I was doing and that it was working well for me. It gave others permission to determine what would work best for them.
Leadership in the church is demanding. It will take everything you have to give, and more, if you let it. Instead, give 85%. It will help you and those you lead.