CEO Tribe Logo

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." John Quincy Adams

Are you a Multiplier or a Diminisher?

Do you inspire your people, drawing out their genius and empowering them to innovate? Or are you invariably the smartest person in the room - causing your talented employees to literally diminish in confidence, engagement, and productivity? Wait. Don't answer yet. Think about it - and think about the exponential power you can wield, and results you can yield, if you start multiplying.

The Multiplying Benefits of Multipliers

In Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown propose that some leaders are "Diminishers." These folks "drain intelligence and capability out of the people around them." Surely, you've had a boss or two like that in your career! Others, though, are "Multipliers." They use their own intelligence to draw forth and magnify the talents of others.

According to Wiseman and McKeown's research, Multipliers extract three times more capability from their teams. They don't have to add resources, spend more, or hire more staff to increase productivity; instead, they leverage - and stretch - the skills and talents of their current employees to achieve extraordinary results. Because of this, Multipliers "don't get a little more; they get vastly more."

By analyzing over 150 leaders, Wiseman and McKeown identified five disciplines in which Multipliers excel:

  • Attracting and optimizing talent.
  • Creating intensity that necessitates best thinking.
  • Extending challenges.
  • Debating decisions.
  • Instilling ownership and accountability.

Let's take a look at each in turn.

The Talent Manager: Attracting and Optimizing Talent

Talented people flock to these types of leaders because they know they'll be pushed, prodded, and stretched to achieve even higher levels of performance - regardless of organizational structure. Talent Managers look for skilled people, everywhere, constantly, and when they find them, they figure out ways to maximize their skills. In such cultures, people, and productivity, flourish.

The Anti-Talent Manager:"Empire Builders," on the other hand, hoard resources and limit the potential of those who work under them. Why? Because they don't want to share credit; they don't want to risk anyone outshining them (even if subconsciously). Thus, they diminish the capability - and engagement - of their direct reports.

The Liberator: Creating Intensity to Facilitate Best Thinking

Liberators free their people from organizational and positional restraints and allow them to take smart risks. They create conditions in which innovative thinking thrives and capabilities expand. It's both comfortable (people feel that they can make mistakes) and intense (they feel a mandate to push their performance). As Wiseman and McKeown write, "They create pressure, but they don't generate stress."

The Anti-Liberator: Tyrants adhere to rigid hierarchical structures, preventing talented players from reaching new heights. Rather than freeing critical thinking, they constrain it. And they most certainly generate stress.

The Challenger: Extending Challenges

Challengers don't have all the answers; rather, they feel their role is to present opportunities and let their people figure out new ways to seize them. They strive to get "themselves and others to push beyond what they know," and they believe their team can surmount challenges. This belief is infectious - and self-fulfilling.

The Anti-Challenger: Know-It-Alls have all the answers; rather than empowering team members to develop solutions, these leaders just tell them what to do. Their results are limited to what they know how to do versus what their team can figure out how to do. (Sounds like they could use a math lesson in multiplication.)

The Debate Makers: Debating Decisions

Not every decision requires consensus; but Debate Makers are able to discern those that benefit from the input of the group. They lead rigorous debates, which "stretch what people know," make the organization "smarter," and create the impetus to execute decisions.

The Anti-Debate Maker: Decision Makers decree rather than debate. They rely on their own knowledge, again limiting input and insight to that which is between their own ears.

The Investor: Instilling Ownership and Accountability

Investors provide their people with the resources, tools, coaching, and support they need to meet, and exceed, expectations. Through their investment, they empower their team members to become independent high-performers. Let's be clear: "It isn't just benevolence. They invest, and they expect results." Accountability is a key term of their investment.

The Anti-Investor: Micromanagers have to leap in and save the day. Their personal involvement is a must in any activity, and if they are not hovering over their direct-reports' shoulders - why, nothing would ever get done!

Do you see yourself in any of these Multiplier or Diminisher roles? If so, that's good. The key to changing, improving, and honing your leadership skills is to recognize that growth is both necessary and possible. The key to changing, improving, and honing your team's ability to function as a well-oiled machine, though, lies in multiplication. Take the steps now to become a Multiplier and see your results...well, multiply.


Larry Hart

You Might Also Like..