Recently, I attended the Connecting Leaders Conference: Learning for Changing Times in Richmond, BC. This is a yearly conference put on by our British Columbia Principals’ and Vice-Principals’ Association (BCPVPA). I signed up for this conference in August and was patiently waiting for the day to come! The day was full of great connections, questions, and thoughtful reflections (thanks Chris, Darcy, Trevor, Scott, and the #SD36 crew). What more can one ask for when being involved in professional development?
In our Friday keynote, Liz Wiseman talked about her book, Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter. What a great title for a book! To say I was intrigued, is an understatement. Who doesn’t want to be a great leader? I was interested in hearing what Liz had to say.
Liz Wiseman divided leaders into to categories: Diminishers and Multipliers. She states that Diminishers are leaders who “are absorbed in their own intelligence, stifle others, and deplete the organization of crucial intelligence and capability.” These people always need to be the smartest people in the room. They operate under the assumption, “People won’t figure it out without me.” According to Wiseman, there are five disciplines of the Diminisher: 1. The Empire Builder, 2. The Tyrant, 3. The Know-It-All, 4. The Decision Maker, and 5. The Micromanager. Diminishers are those who make negative comments, are critical but not constructive, can be condescending, and focus only on mistakes. These are the leaders who continually make you feel inadequate. According to a study by Wiseman, et. al., as a result of these characteristics, the Diminisher actually gets less than 50% of their employees effort and results.
Mulipliers, on the other hand, are “genius makers and bring out the intelligence in others. They build a collective, viral intelligence in organizations.” These leaders operate under the assumption that “People are smart and will figure it out.” According to Wiseman, there are five disciplines of the Multiplier: 1. The Talent Magnet, 2. The Liberator, 3. The Challenger, 4. The Debate Maker, and 5. The Investor. These leaders find what people are naturally good at and put that to work. They have high standards and ask people to solve hard challenges. They make people uncomfortable, but in a safe environment. They are empowering and allow (encourage) risk-taking and they value the opinions of others. The result is that a Multiplier can get twice as much work/effort from an employee as the Diminisher.
So, where do you fit in? Are you a Diminisher or are you a Multiplier in your leadership style?
It is important to note though, that many of us are in the middle – we may be a Multiplier, but can be an accidental Diminisher quite easily. Wiseman describes Accidental Diminishers as being separated into 6 categories: 1. “The Idea Guy”, 2. “Always On”, 3. “The Rescuer”, 4. “The Pace-Setter.”, 5. “The Rapid Responder.”, and 6. “The Optimist.”
To be honest, I can see myself as a Multiplier in many ways, but I can also see myself as an Accidental Diminisher, in different situations. I often find myself “Rescuing” others. It is a fine line though, as we discussed at our table group, between providing support or rescuing. Some people need support, while many (Wiseman would say, most) just come to their leaders for an ear to listen to their issues and to let the leader know what is on their mind and how they are going to work through it themselves. They are not coming for any answers. In fact, answers drag them down. What they need, is questions. As we learned from Wiseman, questions can help clarify ones thoughts and feelings and can help bring others to important realizations on their own.
I can actually see myself in many of these “accidental diminisher” characteristics. At times, I see myself as a “Rapid Responder” and really need to slow down in some areas. Furthermore, if you have read my blog much, I think you’d probably agree that sometimes I can be “The Optimist” always believing there is a way to solve any problem that may come up. I try not to get weighed down by negativity, but, instead, look at things positively. I must remember though, that others may perceive this as being something that it’s not – overly self-confident, perhaps? The awareness of how I may be accidentally diminishing others is powerful and extremely important.
One of my goals will be to stop being a “rescuer”. Ask more questions. Really deep, meaningful questions. Questions that will get to the underlying why.
So, my question for you . . . can you be an accidental diminisher to one person, but a multiplier to another? Is it always just one or the other? My thought is, if you are accidentally diminishing one person, others will pick up on that as well and there will be a negative consequence for them, as a result.
How do you challenge people to become more creative in their work, take on more ownership so they are not just “busy, but bored”?
How do you ensure you are a true multiplier who does not accidentally diminish those around you? If you do diminish, what do you do and what can you do to help limit this?