How to Transform Diminishing Behaviours into Multiplying Ones

In: BlogDate: Sep 27, 2018By: Billy Burgess

Could you be an accidental diminisher? In this blog, Billy looks at some of the ways that managers can reshape their behaviour to multiply their team, giving their team more autonomy and trust.

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Multipliers are leaders who stimulate progress and get more done with fewer resources. They do this while also shunning scare tactics and micro-management.

This is the core argument made in Liz Wiseman’s best-selling book, Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, which underlines the attributes necessary for leaders to maximise the intelligence and unique capabilities of the entire workforce.

Previously on this blog, we detailed the five multiplier disciplines: talent magnet, liberator, challenger, debate maker and investors. We also discussed the difference between multipliers and more autocratic leaders known as diminishers. Diminishers tend to destroy workplace energy with aggressive micromanagement, ultimately frightening employees from expressing themselves.

But can diminishers be reshaped into multipliers? Perhaps not overnight, but Wiseman believes such a transformation is possible.

Recognising your mistakes

Multipliers relates the story of Bill Campbell, former CEO of financial software company Intuit, to illustrate that rebirth is possible for long-standing diminishers. In various high profile positions, Campbell was prone to directing every decision and action, pushing co-workers around and pouncing on anyone exhibiting weakness.

But after being made aware of his diminishing leadership, Campbell learnt to listen more and tell less. As a result he came to appreciate his colleagues’ unique know-how and liberated them to make innovative contributions.

Resolve to multiply

Converting diminishers into multipliers isn’t a walk in the park, but there’s no reason it can’t be done. It firstly depends on the leader comprehending the destructiveness of their diminishing leadership style. In Campbell’s case, once he recognised that macho micro-management was detrimental to preserving his team and using the vast talent that surrounded him, he was able to transition into a successful multiplier.

Most of us have worked under leaders who fit description of a diminisher and know that this doesn’t mean they’re bad people. Often diminishers are coming from a good place – wanting to succeed and make sure nothing goes wrong. So becoming a multiplier requires recognition of the premier benefits offered by this leadership style.

Three lazy strategies

Rather than beefing up the workload, Wiseman advocates the lazy way of becoming a multiplier. She lays down three strategies to accelerate the transformation.

1. Focus on the extremes

Leaders don’t need to be good at absolutely everything. In fact, striving to be an all-round guru will quickly become overwhelming. Start by refining a small number of skills while also getting rid of any screeching weaknesses. I.e. focus on the extremes.

Wiseman says leaders don’t need to be strong in all five disciplines to be multipliers. Strength in two or three is sufficient as long as they’re not held back by any glaring weakness. A weakness is anything that prevents the progress of the workforce, the company or leaders themselves.

2. Start with the assumptions

Diminishers assume important details can’t be resolved without their expert input. All subordinate workers are working for them (not with them) and are thus denied the opportunity to take charge of decision-making.

Multipliers assume workers wouldn’t be in the job if they didn’t already possess the intellect and problem-solving abilities apt to be successful. Multipliers aren’t afraid to defer responsibility to other workers and allow them to take ownership of certain projects.

3. Take the 30-day multiplier challenge

It takes 30 days to form a new habit. Based on this research, Wiseman recommends the 30-day multiplier challenge. Instead of leaders trying to reinvent overnight, Wiseman suggests initially spending 30 days focused on a single discipline. Then follow that up with another 30 days focused on a different single discipline.

There’s no guarantee leaders will become star performers in the chosen discipline after 30 days, but even gradual improvement is worthwhile. And besides, mastery is only possible with repetition, time and reinforcement – that’s true of even the quickest and smartest learners.

Will you take the 30-day multiplier challenge? How could your organisation be different if you focused on becoming more of a multiplier?

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Billy Burgess

Billy has been writing blogs for Happy since 2017, covering mindfulness, stress management, confidence building and emotional intelligence as well as offering handy tips for Office 365 users. As an arts, culture and lifestyle writer, his work is regularly published in Music Feeds, VICE, RedBull.com, Beat magazine and Mixdown.

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Want to learn more?

We offer a one-day workshop called Becoming a Multiplier.

Using the best thinking from the book, Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman, Happy’s Group Managing Director Cathy Busani will show you how to become a Multiplier of others. This next takes place on 6th August at Happy's HQ, or contact us for pricing and availability of private inhouse options.