on 15 January 2013
Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown's Multipliers is perhaps the most influential book on leadership that I have read. I came across it in June last year and, according to my Amazon account, to date, I have bought 18 copies for my senior leadership team and other colleagues!
In essence, Multipliers is an eloquent case for a "distributive" approach to leadership, which empowers everyone in the organisation to take responsibility (and, to some extent, risks). Multipliers divides leaders broadly into two camps: Diminishers, who "drain intelligence, energy, and capability from the ones around them and always need to be the smartest ones in the room"; and Multipliers who "use their intelligence to amplify the smarts and capabilities of the people around them." A Multiplier is the antithesis of being a "control-freak".
"A leader is someone who helps others to lead." (p.167)
Multipliers develop people, they look to their team/organisation to solve problems, and they attract talent to the organisation. Multipliers is packed full of practical strategies to bring out the best in the team and is illustrated with examples from a range of industries.
Wiseman and McKeown have identified five skills and practices that can be learned that distinguish Multipliers from Diminishers:
1.The Talent Magnet - attracts talented people and uses them at their highest point of contribution
2.The Liberator - creates an intense environment that requires people's best thinking and work
3.The Challenger - defines an opportunity that causes people to stretch
4.The Debate Maker - drives sound decisions through rigorous debate
5.The Investor - gives other people the ownership for results and invests in their success.
This is a book that makes you reflect on your leadership style and context. I found myself writing extensive ideas and questions in the back of my copy which became the basis of a major review of how we do things here at Berkhamsted.
The one significant weaknesses of the book for me was that it doesn't really address the issue of under-performance. What if people in the organisation don't want to be empowered, or are unwilling to take responsibility? The book recognises the need at times of "removing blockers" (p.52-56) and "pulling weeds" (p.62), but, apart from the need for removing prima donnas, it doesn't develop the circumstances in which this might happen.
The Multipliers project has developed beyond the book. There is a Multipliers network on LinkedIn which provides a platform to share ideas, and there are some excellent resources to help you develop as a Multiplier leader. There is also an education version of Multipliers to be published in March 2013.
In this book written with Greg McKeown, Liz Wiseman juxtaposes two quite different types of persons whom she characterizes as the "Multiplier" and the "Diminisher." Although she refers to them as leaders, suggesting they have supervisory responsibilities, they could also be direct reports at the management level or workers at the "shop floor" level. Multipliers "extract full capability," their own as well as others', and demonstrate five disciplines: Talent Magnet, Liberator, Challenger, Debate Maker, and Investor. Diminishers underutilize talent and resources, their own as well as others, and also demonstrate five disciplines: Empire Builder, Tyrant, Know-It-All, Decision Maker, and Micro Manager. Wiseman devotes a separate chapter to each of the five Multiplier leadership roles.
Wiseman cites dozens of real-world examples that suggest how almost any organization (regardless of its size or nature) can plan, implement, accelerate, and sustain a human development program that strengthens participants' leadership and management skills that (a) will enable them to multiply the intelligence and capability of the people around them and (b) avoid behaviors that can diminish people's ability and enthusiasm
As Wiseman clearly realizes, people combine some of the best and worst traits of both the Multiplier and Diminisher. Strengths can become weaknesses or vice versa if carried to an extreme. A Talent Magnet, for example, could be especially effective recognizing and attracting high-potentials and then hoard their talents, exploiting them to her or his advantage. A Micro Manager could be especially alert for significant details that others ignore but deny other people's professional development by refusing to delegate tasks to them. In the healthiest organizations, there are constant efforts to increase (multiply) positive and productive engagement while reducing (diminishing) waste.
In Appendix B, this is one of the FAQs that caught my eye: Are people either Diminishers or Multipliers or are there people in the middle? Here is Wiseman and McKeown's response: "We see the Diminisher-Multiplier model as a continuum with a few people at the extremes and most of us somewhere in between. As people have been introduced to this material, they almost always see some of the Diminisher and some of the Multiplier within themselves. One leader we worked with is illustrative. He was a smart and aware individual who didn't fit the archetype of a Diminisher, and yet when he read the material he could see how he sometimes behaved in a Diminishing manner. While we studied this leadership phenomenon as a contrast, we see the model as a continuum with only a very few people at the polar extremes and the majority of us somewhere in the middle."
Most supervisors need to increase some behaviors (e.g. providing clear explanations of performance expectations and how performance will be measured) and avoid other behaviors (e.g. withholding information others need). The same is true of those whom they supervise. The challenge is to do more of what will add value and less of what diminishes it.
To me, one of the most valuable insights in this book suggests that, especially during the current economic recession/depression/whatever, the total cost of what must be done (in terms of dollars and hours) is probably much less than what would be saved by doing it. According to Wiseman, Multipliers extract so much more from their people that - in effect - they essentially double the workforce at no additional cost. If that isn't doing more with less, I don't know what is.
on 2 March 2011
Everyone wants to elicit more from the people with whom they work (or live). Liz Wiseman and her colleague and primary contributor Greg McKeown show you how. They know you can draw more from people by making more of them - by multiplying their contributions. This book names the ways in which managers help others grow to become more than they thought they could be - or halt their growth and make them less than they wanted to be. Anchored in the research of the authors, as well as work from Carol Dweck and multiple-intelligences guru Daniel Goleman, this book will challenge you at every turn, adding value to your work and life. Readers with a natural distrust of dichotomies may question the ease with which the authors find a yang for every yin. For every "Challenger" there is a "Know-It-All." For every "Investor" there is a "Micromanager." Instead of being suspicious, think of these opposites as a continuum between those who "Multiply" and those who "Diminish" the talent around them. getAbstract recommends that leaders at all levels follow the suggestion of K.R. Sridhar, CEO of Bloom Energy: "I have zero tolerance if someone does not run the experiment." If even a single person reports to you, run the experiment. Read the book.
on 28 June 2012
This is an awesome book! It is very readable, practical and applicable. No management jargon - lots of examples and ideas for developing your leaderhip skills. I especially like the last chapter which helps you build your own plan on how to take the ideas forward. I have read it cover to cover and now am embarking on the online assessment so I can "work my extremes" using "The Lazy Way Strategy".
Just going on line to buy the book for my manager - she is already a great leader but even the best can improve :-)
on 7 November 2012
I have always tried to delegate to others and to build skills so that my team are not reliant on me to solve problems and this book validates that approach. It also gives me incite into all the behaviours where I am still, in the words of the book, a diminisher. Managers and intellectual leaders in all organisations can learn something about realising people's potential from this book. Some of it may be common sense but this book recognises and documents the behaviours of good, and bad, managers in a way that will strike a chord with anyone working in any organisation.
on 2 June 2011
Hi, I just wanted to say that this is one of best management books i have read in ages. It is really thoughtful and full of good case studies and ideas that we should all apply in our management practice. Definately read this book, a great read.