I first learned the principle of the ‘last 10 percent’ from a man I worked for. And he learned it from Bill Hybels. Once I absorbed it, it totally changed the way I communicate with my family, friends, coworkers, church members, and even acquaintances.
What is the last 10 percent?
The last 10 percent is the stuff we won’t share because it’s often hard to do. It’s everything we’re thinking or feeling with our spouse. It’s the tough love we give our kids or our friends because we care about their future. It’s the honest wisdom we share with church members or acquaintances.
I use this principle with my team at Church Community Builder. In fact, it’s even become a little bit of an inside joke. The thing I love about our team is that they value this principle just as much as I do. We value a teachable spirit over everything on our team, even sales results, which makes it easy to be honest about the last 10 percent.
Whenever we’re talking through ideas, next steps, or issues, I always preface the conversation with, “Now let me share the last 10 percent.” Not only does it help them mentally prepare for the next thing I say, it also brings a different level of authenticity to our conversations and relationships.
The power of the last 10 percent
The last 10 percent is also where the real issues are. It’s where people struggle, wrestle, and face issues head on. While the last 10 percent will always be uncomfortable, it’s essential if we want to continue to learn and improve. If we don’t share it, people can’t grow.
Christians struggle to be ‘direct’. We don’t want to share the last 10 percent because:
- We are too nice.
- We don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings.
- We don’t want to lose our influence with staff.
- We don’t want to drive someone from the church.
But as a result, we don’t really help people and we are ineffective leaders.
Becoming a leader who shares the last 10 percent
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to sit in a breakout session led by Rob Cizek at the
XPastor Forum. During the session, Rob shared some brilliant ideas on the power of being direct. While teaching leaders how to adopt directness as a lifestyle, he also shared real stories about tough conversations he’s had as a leader. He also shared how those conversations served as hinge moments for the people involved, totally changing their direction for the better.
Rob understands the power of the last 10 percent. While being direct is never easy, “knowing yourself will give you an indication of how difficult it will be for you to ‘speak the truth in love’.”
Sharing the last 10 percent doesn’t hurt your influence. In fact, it can only enhance it. The key is to learn how you can effectively communicate it. If you struggle to communicate the last 10 percent, I encourage you to try it. Check out Rob’s post to learn how you can start adopting it in the way you communicate.
How has this principle impacted your leadership? Do you know a leader who is good at communicating the last 10 percent?