Multipliers

If you run a company that aspires to grow, you have two ways to support said growth.

You can either try to amass more resources (often translating into hiring more), or you can aim at achieving more with the resources that you have at your disposal.

And while following the logic of addition (add resources) instead of the logic of multiplication (same resources) might seem more humane (nobody wants their people to burn out), it turns out people who work for multipliers are more motivated, more engaged, more satisfied, and eventually turn out achieving more. Both for their organizations and for themselves.

Multipliers understand the power of continuous development.

They are talent magnets. Not only because people want to work with them, but also because multipliers are capable of appreciating different types of talent across the boundaries imposed by organizational charts. They can identify what people can do easily (without effort) and freely (without conditions), and they then find opportunities to employ this natural genius, allowing people to grow beyond their current capabilities.

They are liberators. They resist the temptation to take things in their hands, and they create space. They focus on the execution rather than the outcome, and by doing so they allow people to learn from mistakes. Indeed, they often talk themselves about their own mistakes.

They are challengers. Instead of giving answers, they provide just enough information to provoke thinking, and they then establish the challenge so that it represents a (possible) stretch to the current capabilities. They create a vacuum. Not between what they know and what others know, as many managers do, but between what people know and what they need to know to complete the challenge.

They are debate makers. They spark debate by framing the issue, setting the rules (and reiterating whenever necessary), creating safety (they encourage opposing views even when there are none, and they speak last), and demanding rigor (evidence is the price to pay for having an opinion). As for those who should participate in the debate: those with needed knowledge, those with a stake in the decision to make, those who are responsible to drive the outcome.

They are investors. They give ownership, they spend time teaching and coaching, and nonetheless they hold people accountable. So much so that they respect natural consequences: instead of jumping in to fix things, they talk about what has happened and focus on the next thing.

If you are a multiplier, or want to be one, you will probably find yourself asking these questions a lot.

In what way is this person smart?

What is the next challenge for you?

What other roles could this person shine in?

Thanks for sharing this criticism, what does it look like when I do that? How do I avoid this?

What if this would happen, instead?

In a perfect world, what would you do?

What do you need from me as you lead this?

How do you propose we solve this?

Being a multiplier does not usually come natural. Most cultures have a different ideas of leadership and it is easier for us to think we are better and we could do things better than others in most circumstances.

It is an investment, though, that comes with a pretty high return.

Multipliers don’t necessarily get more with less. They get more by using more—more of people’s intelligence and capability. As one CEO put it, “Eighty people can either operate with the productivity of fifty or they can operate as though they were five hundred.” And because these Multipliers achieve better resource efficiency, they enjoy a strengthened competitive position against companies entrenched in the logic of addition.

Liz Wiseman, Multipliers – How the best leaders make everyone smarter
Multipliers, book cover

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