Have you ever worked with a boss that you disliked? A lot of us can relate to bad bosses; we don’t see eye-to-eye, we feel overworked and underappreciated. Why do you think “The Office” is so popular? Michael Scott and the rest of the Dunder Mifflin crew are so relatable because we see aspects of the characters in our daily work lives. But here’s the question. Do you know how to be a great leader?
Strong leaders are able to attract talented people and find ways to challenge them. They are able to bring people to their highest potential, making space for continuous learning and stretching their boundaries. Leaders allow open, transparent discussion to share ideas and also invest in the success of others. Effective leaders get the most out of their team.
What are the differences between a great leader, and a poor leader?
In her book Multipliers, Liz Wiseman discusses qualities that are commonly found in strong leaders. She calls these leaders “multipliers”, because these leaders bring out the genius of their team to accomplish more than their separate parts. This is contrary to the “diminishing” leader, who decreases productivity and well-being of their team.
5 Key Disciplines of a Great Leader
Liz outlines 5 key disciplines that she found were common among great leaders. Here are the factors that can help you become a multiplier.
The Talent Magnet – Attract and Optimize talent
Multipliers have the ability to attract talented individuals and put them in situations to succeed. The leaders build a reputation of treating their people well and allowing them space to grow and be successful.
When you lead by investing in others and giving them the best opportunity to have success and grow, these individuals will turn from great team members to exceptional. Over time, you will gain the reputation of fostering a place where people grow, attracting further talent. From there on, the cycle continues to repeat!
The Empire Builder – Diminisher Mindset
On the other hand, a diminisher mindset is on building a large empire for themselves, controlling and owning resources. They tend to think in terms of efficiency, slotting people into positions that they may be deemed the best at. This is detrimental to their careers as they aren’t challenged or grow.
The same cyclical effect can be seen in an empire builder, where people will learn over time that this is the place where people’s careers can die. Make sure that you treat your team’s needs first, providing their careers a place to flourish instead of wither.
The Liberator – Require people’s best thinking
Liberators promote collaborative working environments so ideas can be shared freely. They put an emphasis on education and enforce a rapid learning cycle. To allow teams to be productive, liberators create an open space and listen to their team. They admit their own mistakes so others are more willing to take calculated risk without fear of failure. Mistakes are part of the process but you should still demand high expectations so your team is required to put their best foot forward.
The Tyrant – Diminisher Mindset
Contrary to liberators, tyrants create a tense environment that closes people off and suppresses people’s thinking and capability. With harsh opinions and “my way or the highway” attitude, people often are scared to speak up, or resign to the tyrant’s decisions because the effort to challenge them are not worth it. With this leadership style, people are stunted in growth and choose the path of least resistance, following the diminisher’s orders.
Tyrant leaders may not always know that they have a diminisher’s mindset. People with naturally strong personalities that voice their opinions may become an accidental diminisher. Especially with leaders that have decades of technical experience, you can have a tendency to choose the fast, quick fix by telling your team what to do. However, remember to keep opinions soft and allow input from the whole team to cultivate a safe environment for everyone.
The Challenger – Extend challenges
Multipliers challenge their team and nudge them to grow and stretch over time. They understand that intelligence is fluid and continuous learning is part of life. To become a challenger, you should provide clear opportunities for your team to take on. Ask hard questions and challenge assumptions laid out by your team. Although you may have some answers, remember not to hand-hold and allow them space to solve it themselves. This causes a motivating and more fulfilling environment where teams are frequently growing and taking on impactful responsibilities.
The Know-it-all – Diminisher Mindset
The diminisher usually gives directions to their team to do day-to-day tasks. Leaders are more susceptible to becoming a know-it-all if they come from an extensive technical background, since usually it’s easier to give orders than to wait for the team to solve challenges. However, this can cause the team to be too dependent on you since you’re always there to save the day. Do not be a superhero. Without challenges, people get bored and unmotivated, and inevitably leave for other opportunities.
The Debate maker – Debate decisions
Healthy debate is very important in planning and decision making. Whether you are a seasoned veteran with decades of experience, or a fresh graduate, each person brings their own perspective. Multipliers provide a safe, transparent environment for people to share ideas and drive the best decisions for the team. They encourage others to speak up in order to spark healthy debate.
The Decision Maker – Diminisher Mindset
The diminisher values a select group of people’s opinions strongly, and has a small inner circle. Within that room, they come up with decisions efficiently and tell the broader team and company to execute on their choices. They may be sound decisions, but the process is opaque to others and can cause confusion in people that are in the dark.
The Investor – Instill accountability
Investors invite others to take ownership of their project and become accountable. In this way, team members become engaged and take up initiatives and improvements on their own. They have a sense of inclusion and ownership of their work. You can become a multiplier by investing in your teams’ success by giving them all the necessary resources and space to grow.
The Micro Manager – Diminisher Mindset
Diminishers tend to be micro managers because they don’t trust their team. Sometimes, leaders can be unwittingly diminishers by jumping in too quickly when seeing their team fail. Without the experience of handling fires by themselves, the team can become reliant on you and not grow to take ownership. Diminishers are heavily involved in the day-to-day, managing and directing people.
Become a Multiplier
Have you recently been promoted to team lead? Started volunteering as a project manager, or become a store-front supervisor? It is a challenge to switch mindsets of doing work yourself versus becoming a leader of a project. Liz Wiseman identifies 5 disciplines that you can incorporate into your life to become a multiplier; someone who cultivates growth and success for their team. Try to remember these disciplines in your every-day life:
- The Talent Magnet – Allow people to grow and succeed. Always look for people’s natural genius
- The Liberator – Create an environment where people offer their best thinking and effort
- The Challenger – Define opportunities so people can push their boundaries
- The Debate Maker – Cultivate an open environment for discussion
- The Investor – Give project ownership to your team and invest in their success
As leaders, we are responsible for the long-term success and well-being of our team. Even the most well-intentioned leaders can be hurting their teams by being unknowing diminishers. Remember to take a step back, reflect, and apply Liz’s 5 disciplines to become a multiplier! Unlock your team’s growth today 🙂
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