3-5 Rules: for Your Team

Today is the second in a 2-part series called 3-5 Rules. Last week, we discussed developing 3-5 Rules for Your Kids. Today we’re taking a look at how creating 3-5 rules for your team can actually help to empower them.

As we said in last week’s post, we’ve found that people are most successful when they have 3-5 key expectations or “rules” that can guide their behavior, their choices, and their thinking as they face the myriad of decisions they have to make in any day or week.

The key to developing powerful rules for your team is to keep them broad enough to allow for independent thinking but bounded enough to provide a structure within where the people using them can achieve success.

The goal is to identify those things that are critical
to success that can be kept “front and center”
as your teams are doing their work.

Think about your own experience of rules. We’ve all had bosses who seemed to have a ton of rules—sometimes rules that were contradictory or changed mid-project—which left you confused and unable to be truly successful.


If you create expectations that are time bound and specific, you’ll need to revisit them over and over again. But, by answering a few simple questions, you can develop 3-5 rules that are timeless and emphasize higher-level behaviors.

  1. Answer the following questions to get clear about the 3-5 rules that will set the standard for how your team can demonstrate success:

      • What really matters to you as a leader and to the company?
      • What does success look like to your clients/customers?
      • What does success look like for the team members?
      • What will your department look like if you’re highly successful with …….?
      • What could sink your efforts?


Here are some examples of rules that our clients have come up with.

My team needs to:

      • Be clear about the rationale for decisions.
      • Come to me with the problem defined and an initial idea for solving it.
      • Own success, and when it’s not happening, demonstrate a sense of urgency and clarity about getting it right.
      • Bring me in if there’s a risk to the department or the organization.
      • Care as much about relationships within the organization as they do about results, and aim for excellence in both.
    1.  
    2. Sit down with your team and let them know the 3-5 rules that will guide your assessment of how things are going. Make sure to explain to them your rationale behind the rules and invite questions and conversation.

      Remember, we define leadership as a willingness to influence your world and be influenced by your world.


      This process can help your team feel like they have the ability to influence you and to learn how they can be influenced by you. People are more likely to get behind things that they’ve helped create!

      Tell them that they can count on you to let them navigate independently within the boundaries of these rules.

    3. Document what you’ve said in a summary to your team, and use the rules over and over and over again to drive home the importance of working within the 3-5 rules.


    What you see in some of these examples is that they can support an organization over time. They don’t need to be rewritten with each reorg or new initiative, and they guide leaders and staff to work in ways that matter to you—as their leader—and to the organization as a whole.

    Knowing what truly matters to you as a manager will increase your effectiveness. Sharing your 3-5 rules with others empowers them. They’ll know what you’ll hold them accountable to and then they can ask that you give them room to navigate within the boundaries of those 3-5 rules.

    This week, try to notice what really matters to you—what you actually look for to measure success, and what you need from others to feel confidence in them. Your clarity will help you and others to shine.

    We’re here for you!

    If you’d like support in creating 3-5 rules
    for your team, contact us today
    about Executive Coaching.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

  • Categories

  • Archives