Last week’s newsletter described how some leaders unintentionally stifle their employees, clients, students, parishioners or other followers. Leaders who stifle others are called diminishers in Harvard Business Review article (May, 2010) titled “Bringing Out the Best in Your People.” Based on a series of in-depth interviews and behavior analyses covering four continents, researchers Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown discovered that diminisher leaders underutilize people and suppress or ignore their creativity, capabilities and ideas. The diminisher leader likes to be in control. He or she is a micro-manager who needs to be seen as “the smartest, most capable person in the room,” the decision maker who gives directives and makes the decisions. These diminishers squelch morale and ultimately drive away talented people, especially those who are younger.

In contrast to diminishers, multipliers are leaders who bring out the best in others. They lead (teach or coach) by:

  • Managing talent. Multipliers pull others “into their orbit with the explicit understanding that accelerated development is part of the deal.” Multipliers attract talented people, acknowledge their capabilities and use them to their highest potential.
  • Creating a productive environment. Multipliers explicitly encourage people to think, speak, express bold ideas and take action. These leaders are not controlling tyrants. Instead they are motivators who stimulate the best thinking and action in others.
  • Setting direction. This is not top-down instruction. Multipliers ask hard questions encourage creative thinking and stretch their people to come up with fresh and innovative solutions to problems.
  • Engaging people. Multiplier leaders cultivate debate, stimulate rigorous interaction, and give individuals or team members a chance to express their ideas and possibilities for action.
  • Coaching. This involves encouraging self-sufficiency, decision making and action. It means asking insightful questions that encourage others to “stop, think, and then rethink.” Ask questions to clarify issues, dig deeper into promising ideas, and determine next steps.

Multiplier leadership stimulates mental and physical energy bringing more of the fresh ideas that facilitates success. How can you lead, teach, and coach like a multiplier?

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