The 5×10 Leadership Rule

5x10 Leadership Rule ImageTeam size is a critical factor in the success or failure of an organization. Most organizations permit – or expect – too many direct reports for each team lead. This logic ignores the reality that good people leadership takes time and great people leadership requires more time.

To minimize the bad boss syndrome, organizations should follow the 5×10 rule of people leadership. The rule says team leaders should have no more than 5 direct reports and should spend at least 10% of their time on each team member.

5 People Each at 10% of Time

A good people leader invests about 10% of their time on each direct report. If the leader has more than 5 direct reports, this means spending more than 50% of their time leading their team. As a result, the leader has less than half of their time for their own work.

Why 10% Per Direct Report?

Some of my clients question the 10% of time per direct report. The issue is this seems like a great deal of time. Yet, when reminded this 10%, based on a 40 hour work week, is only 4 hours, it seems less substantial. This also includes everything:

    • One-on-one meetings
    • Clearing obstacles
    • Professional development
    • Routine communications and more

In most cases, the reality is people leaders don’t realize how much time they actually spend – or should spend – on each direct report.

If you show me a bad boss, I bet there is a good chance that boss is out of balance on the 5×10 rule. To be certain, there may be occasions and periods where leaders need to break this rule. However, exceeding 5 direct reports should be the exception, not the rule.

Is the 5×10 rule practiced at your organization?


Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner is the founder and principal of Modern Servant Leader and Radiant Forest, LLC. He has studied and promoted servant leadership awareness and adoption for over 20 years. He is the author of 2 leadership books and has 2 decades of corporate management and leadership experience. His corporate experience spans CIO, VP, Director, and many management roles at Fortune 500, INC 500, and Nonprofits. Ben’s education includes a B.S. in Management Science & Information Systems from Penn State University and an MBA from Lehigh University. Ben's Full Profile Here: About Ben Lichtenwalner

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