As a high school athlete, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, was so good at basketball that his coach had his teammates get him the ball as often as possible. The team won a lot because Johnson was great at making shots. There was only one problem―at the end of each game, Magic felt disheartened at the sad faces of his teammates and their parents who didn’t get to see them shine.
The nickname “Magic” came after Johnson implemented an idea he had to fix this problem. Rather than being the center of attention and all the team’s points, he decided to see how he could utilize his skills to help his colleagues be their best. Eventually, he developed the astounding art of improving the abilities of every teammate.
Magic’s story is an example of a Multiplier, or a leader that takes the talents of their team and multiplies them. In Liz Wiseman’s Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, she outlines the key traits of a Multiplier leader and how to become one. You’ll also learn how to handle a Diminisher boss if you might have one.
These are my 3 favorite lessons from the book:
- Diminishers reduce the effectiveness of their team and Multipliers expand their team’s capabilities.
- If you’ve got a Diminisher boss, there is hope in learning and applying some defensive strategies.
- Becoming a Multiplier and improving your workplace is as simple as following a few quick practices.
Get your calculator ready; let’s learn how to become a Multiplier!
Lesson 1: Bosses who are Multipliers make their team better by magnifying their strengths, while selfish Diminishers pull their team down.
Although frequently intelligent, Diminishers drain the enthusiasm and skills from their team. They focus more on their own strengths and qualities than exploring how to utilize those of others. Employees often feel inferior and unfulfilled in the presence of a Diminisher, who reduces people’s potential and productivity. An example is a leader that smothers others ideas, taking a large chunk of meeting times with their own plans.
Multipliers, on the other hand, are good leaders that leverage the strengths of their team to improve output and intelligence. There are five types of Multipliers:
- The Liberator invites team members best ideas and work by fostering an intense environment. They step back and let the team work while expecting the best results. Liberators are not afraid to fail, provided it comes with lessons.
- The Challenger helps others stretch themselves by looking for opportunities. Challengers motivate others to believe that reaching their goals is possible.
- The Talent Magnet searches for talent, attracts it, notices individual’s greatest areas of expertise, and uses it in the precise place required. Talent Magnets also eliminate hurdles to allow the team to reach peak effectiveness.
- The Debate Maker improves decisions by creating an open environment for debate where all options are considered. They look to reach a resolution that fosters confidence.
The Investor welcomes people’s success and lets them have ownership over their projects. Investors check that everyone gets the resources required to succeed and hold them accountable.
Lesson 2: A little actionable advice on how to handle a Diminisher boss can go a long way toward improving your workplace.
Have you ever had a terrible boss? Between shows like The Office and even your typical workplace, there are far too many examples of bad bosses. Normally, when we encounter a Diminisher, we are likely to avoid them, lay low, confront them, ignore them, or just quit. None of these knee-jerk reactions make any difference.
Instead, follow a few defensive strategies. Whenever you’re tempted to react quickly to a bad situation, instead take the time to examine the problem and how you can calm the conflict. At Apple, one leader took the time to relax and cool off after criticism from Steve Jobs. After regrouping, she presented another solution that satisfied both of them.
One boss I had was a terrible micromanager. He diminished my capabilities and self-confidence. I’m grateful to learn that, should I encounter this in the future, I can emphasize my own qualifications to do the work without someone looking over my shoulder. One acquaintance of the author used the wording of “loosening the choke chain” to defer a micromanaging boss.
An employee under a difficult leader can even turn the tables by being a Multiplier toward their boss. Look to your manager’s skills as a way to effectively direct their attention. Looking back at Apple, one team member requested Steve Jobs’s expertise at the right moment to restrain his efforts to control everything.
Lesson 3: To improve your work environment, become a Multiplier by following these swift and simple rules.
So you’ve examined yourself and notice some Diminisher tendencies, what can you do about it? Well, here are some easy ideas to help you get started.
Rather than attempting to be the best at everything, look at one strength you can improve. Next, test the assumptions you make against the qualities of Multipliers to find your weaknesses and improve your attitude. Look to the five types of Multipliers for guidance on where you shine as well as the specific areas you can improve.
Most importantly, keep going after you’ve become a Multiplier to help others become Multipliers as well. Spread the word of what being a Multiplier means with your workplace to help the entire team uncover their special talents and skills. No matter what their position is, each individual in an organization can become a revolutionary Multiplier.
Multipliers will make you think hard about your workplace and the role you play in it. I found myself looking at how others are Diminishers, but I also think it would be wise to check myself to see if I exert some of these tendencies also. These ideas will revolutionize any workplace and team, whether healthy or not. Be a black man with a plan brothers.