The Mindset of Effective Leaders

In the book Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter (HarperBusiness, 2010), authors Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown interviewed and assessed more than 150 leaders on their managerial practices.

The authors divide leaders into two camps, based on the results they achieve: multipliers or diminishers.

Leadership effectiveness can be judged on a continuum. The following table outlines the differences in these leaders’ approaches:

Challenge Diminisher’s Mindset Multiplier’s Mindset
How would you manage talent? I must closely supervise people if I want them to complete assigned tasks. If I can identify people’s genius, I can watch them succeed on their own.
How would you motivate for outcomes? Pressure increases performance. People’s best ideas must be given, not taken.
How would you solve problems? I need to have all the answers. People get smarter by being challenged.
How would you run debates? There are only a few people worth listening to. With enough minds, we can figure it out.
How would you develop your people? People will never be able to figure things out without me. People are smart and will figure things out independently.

(Source: Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, by Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown)

Leading like a multiplier requires more than mimicking the approaches described above. You must believe in your people’s capabilities and trust them to use their intelligence, strengths and creativity to develop their own solutions. Act as a guide instead of an expert to achieve buy-in and self-sufficiency.

It requires that leaders truly believe that people are smart, motivated, and respond well to coaching. In the work I do with executives, some are naturally supportive of others. They bring out the best in their team.

Others are concerned (unnecessarily so) that without micromanaging, things will go wrong and it will reflect poorly on them as leaders. This diminishes confidence and trust, and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What’s been your experience with leaders like this, who tend to diminish rather than multiply capabilities? I’d love to hear from you; leave a comment.

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