How to Produce More with Less

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. Their research sheds light on the important differences between the geniuses and the genius-makers:

  • It isn’t how much you know that matters, but the access you have to what other people know.
  • Team members should be smart, but success depends on how much of that intelligence you can draw out and provide opportunity for them to use.

These fundamental differences in mindset separate the geniuses from the genius-makers.

People who work for genius-makers say they give more than 100 percent of their energy and abilities (often citing 120 percent). Genius-makers encourage people to stretch their capabilities and “get smarter.” Conversely, those who work for non-genius-makers report giving only 20 to 50 percent on the job.

Many leaders tackle productivity challenges by hiring more people and achieving linear growth. Genius-makers have a more efficient and cost-effective approach: They extract the capabilities of the people already employed, achieving more with the same headcount. Genius-makers know that most workers are underutilized and their aptitude can be leveraged with the right kind of leadership.

Wiseman and McKeown divide leaders into two camps, based on the results they achieve: multipliers or diminishers.

Leadership effectiveness can be judged on a continuum. Some leaders, for example, are unintentionally diminishing, but they can switch directions when armed with the right mindset and communication tools.

Leaders are likely to act on one of two extreme beliefs:

  1. Diminishing leaders believe their people will never be able to figure things out without explanation from a leader who provides all the answers.
  2. Multiplying leaders believe their people are smart and can come up with solutions on their own.

In the work I do with executives, some are naturally supportive of others. They bring out the best in their team. Consider this concept in your own work group. Is your leader typically trying to multiply your abilities? Or diminish them? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you.

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