Are You a Multiplier or a Diminisher?

Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Multipliers is on my annual reading list for each January and is one of my top leadership book recommendations. As a learning leader myself, I constantly challenge myself to be a Multiplier. Here is a brief summary of the disciplines required to be a Multiplier and not a Diminisher.

So, exactly who would be a Diminisher?  Have you ever worked for someone who seem to drain intelligence and capability out of the people around them?  I know I have.  They focus on their own intelligence and their resolve to be the smartest person in the room? This in turn has a diminishing effect on everyone else. While other leaders use their intelligence as a tool rather than a weapon. They find ways to amplify the capabilities of people around them.

This type of leader is a Multiplier, a term coined by author Liz Wiseman. Multipliers are genius makers. Multipliers create an atmosphere of genius—innovation, productive effort, and collective intelligence. 

Multipliers apply the logic of multiplication.  They expect great things from their people and drive them to achieve extraordinary results. They look into people and find capability, and they want to access all of it and utilize people to their fullest.

Multiplier Discipline 1: Attracting and Optimizing Talent

Multipliers are Talent Magnets; they attract and deploy talent to its fullest, regardless of who owns the resource, and people flock to work with them because they know they will grow and be successful. The Four Practices of the Talent Magnet:

  1. Look for talent everywhere.
  2. Find people’s native genius. 
  3. Connect people with opportunities.
  4. Remove the blockers.

Multiplier Discipline 2: Creating Intensity that Requires Best Thinking

Multipliers establish a unique and highly motivating work environment where everyone has permission to think and the space to do their best work. They liberate staff from the shackles of restrictive practices. Multipliers are liberators. Key Practices of the Liberator:

  1. Create space and the right environment.
  2. Demand people’s best work.

Multiplier Discipline 3: Extending Challenges

Multipliers act as Challengers, continually challenging themselves and others to push beyond what they know. How do they do this? They seed opportunities, lay down challenges that stretch the organization, and, in doing so, generate belief that it can be done and enthusiasm about the process. The Three Practices of the Challenger:

  1. Seed the opportunity.
  2. Lay down a challenge. 
  3. Generate belief. 

Through these steps, Multipliers make people believe in themselves. Like the best sports coaches they can pump up people to believe they “are the greatest”.

Multiplier Discipline 4: Debating Decisions

Multipliers operate as Debate Makers, driving sound decisions through rigorous debate. The decision-making process they foster contains all the information the organization needs to be ready to execute those decisions. The Three Practices of the Debate Maker:

  1. Frame the issue: the Question, the Why, the Who and the How.
  2. Spark a great debate that is engaging, comprehensive, fact-based and educational.
  3. Drive a sound decision. 

During a debate ask questions that challenge conventional thinking. Ask the questions that unearth the assumptions that are holding the organization back.  Multipliers pursue debate with a clear end: a sound decision. They ensure this in three ways. First, they reclarify the decision-making process. Second, they make the decision or explicitly delegate it to someone else to decide. And third, they communicate the decision and the rationale behind it. 

Multiplier Discipline 5: Instilling Ownership and Accountability

Multipliers deliver and sustain superior results by setting high expectations across the organization. They serve as Investors who provide the necessary resources for success. In addition, they hold people accountable for their commitments. The Three Practices of the Investor:

  1. Defining ownership 
  2. Investing resources (teach and coach)
  3. Holding people accountable 

A Multiplier leader knows how to keep accountability with their people. They are fully engaged, but the leader does not take over. The leader lets people be self-determining but retains a tight rein. They expect complete work and won’t tolerate omissions or shortfalls.  That said, a multiplier respects natural consequence. The multiplier is aware of the wider influences and constraints and is sympathetic to outcomes if these detractors have an effect.  Through their multiplying abilities, the feeling of care and trust arising creates an increased desire for the staffer go the extra mile and push harder to succeed.

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