How Should Leaders Allocate Time Among Team Members?


Kevin Kruse, Contributor

July 17, 2015

Should you spend more of your time developing the weaker members of your team, or focus on making your star performers even better?

As I’ve led teams over the years, one of the most difficult challenges is where to spend my limited time and energy.  Everyone on my team wanted more of my attention in some way, I often wondered who to give the most time to, and in what ways should I focus my time and energy.

In their new book, Lead Inside the Box, authors Victor Prince and Mike Figliuolo present a useful new framework to help leaders become much smarter about how they spend their time and energy – resources they refer to as “leadership capital”. Their approach helps leaders view their teams as a portfolio of talents that need different amounts—and different types—of attention.

An interesting aspect of the approach is the explanation of the distinct performance patterns that team members fall into. The “box” that is referenced in the book’s title is a metaphor for the two by two matrix that team members can be classified by. The four types of team members are:

  • Exemplars—the stars of your team who produce the best results and require little direction from you. A leader’s goal should be to nurture this group and look for new challenges to keep them motivated.
  • High Cost Producers—achieve above average results but also require a lot of costs in doing so. A leader’s goal should be to “reduce the friction” that these employees create with others.
  • Passengers—produce below average results but have potential. Leaders need to increase their investment with these team members to keep their attention focused on results-producing activities.
  • Detractors—are simply not getting the job done either because they don’t have the skills or don’t have the motivation. A leader must move quickly to get them what they need or move them off the team.

The authors have even created a simple free assessment for evaluating where you’re spending your leadership capital and the resultant performance you’re getting back.

Most usefully, the book shows leaders where they should reduce their time investments with some team members so they can invest more time with others. The net effect of this shift is better team results that require less time and effort to achieve. The book is all about working smarter, not harder.

This book reminds me of a common business strategy framework that has companies milk the “cash cows” (highly profitable parts of the business that are no longer growing) to feed the “stars” (no profits but large growth potential). As popular as it was, that framework didn’t include a key aspect of business – people leadership. With their new book, Prince and Figliuolo have added a useful approach for leaders to be as strategic with their time and energy as corporate finance wizards are with their cash.


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This article was written by Kevin Kruse from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

There is 1 comment

  • Week 30 | import digest - 09/06/2015 00:48
    […] Forbes perspective on how leaders should be spending their “leadership capital” using a 2×2 matrix of results vs. degree of oversight.   The conclusion seems to be to focus attention on those who are self-motivated and directed but produce below average results.  The matrix itself seems broadly similar to Joel Spolsky’s Smart and Gets Things Done grid. […]

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