One of my favourite reads of 2018 was “Multipliers” by Liz Wiseman. In it, she contrasts two types of leader: Multipliers and Diminishers.
(All quotes from Wiseman’s book).
Multipliers “make us better and smarter. They bring out our intelligence…[and] get more from their people because they are leaders who look beyond their own genius and focus their energy on extracting and extending the genius of others.”
Conversely, Diminishers “drain intelligence and capability out of the people around them. Their focus on their own intelligence and their resolve to be the smartest person in the room [has] a diminishing effect on everyone else.” They “believe that really intelligent people are a rare breed and that they are that rare breed. From this assumption they conclude that they are so special, other people will never figure things out without them.”
I’ve worked for Multipliers. I’ve also worked for diminishers. I bet you have too. I want to be a multiplier. Jesus was the ultimate Multiplier. But here’s the scary thing: I know how easy it is to become an accidental diminisher. Let’s be honest though; no one diminishes others on purpose. Do they?
Of course, we all want to be the multiplying-est multipliers that ever existed, right? But how do we go about it? The author offers some suggestions:
- Strive to bring out the intelligence in others. Operate from a “core belief that people are smart and will figure things out.” Don’t be absorbed in your own IQ or shut down the ideas of others.
- Create space for people to flourish. Don’t stifle or silence thinkers; allow them to learn. Don’t micromanage; invest in people and watch them reap the rewards.
- Don’t be a dictator. Encourage conversation and debate. Bring soft opinions (“a perspective to offer, and ideas for someone else to consider”), and reserve hard opnions (“a clear and emphatic point of view”) for when they matter.
To ensure a shift from accidental diminisher to an intentional multiplier, Wiseman encourages leaders to:
- Assume positive intent
- Address one issue at a time
- Celebrate progress
You’ve probably heard the somewhat cliché phrase, leadership is influence. We are all influencing people in some way. So the big question for all of us is this:
How can we ensure that we are multiplying the abilities of those around us and not diminishing them?
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