Leaders as Multipliers: The Secret to Unlocking Your Team’s Potential

Unlocking the full potential of a team is similar to solving a puzzle – it requires the right pieces, patience, and knowledge of how they fit together. In business, good leaders are like puzzle masters, guiding their team to success by leveraging each member’s strengths and creating a cohesive unit that can achieve more together than on their own.

At the core of this leadership style is the idea of being a Multiplier, a concept I learned about from Liz Wiseman’s insightful book, “Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter.” Reading Liz’s book, I was inspired by the idea that exceptional leaders do more than just use their own skills; they bring out the best in their team members, too.

Drawing insights from Wiseman’s book (which was a fantastic read!), this article explores the concept of becoming a Multiplier. We’re going to look at how to spot Multipliers during the hiring process and the significant impact they can have on a company’s success.

What is a Multiplier Leader?

According to Wiseman, Multipliers are “genius makers” who bring out the best in their team and create an environment where everyone can contribute and grow.

They do this by using their own intelligence, skills, and experience to amplify the talents of their team members. Instead of being the sole source of knowledge and decision-making, they encourage their team to take ownership and contribute their unique perspectives.

Characteristics of a Multiplier Leader

Multipliers exhibit certain key characteristics that set them apart from other leaders. For these leaders, it’s less about command and control and more about creating a collaborative and empowering environment.

Here are some common traits of Multiplier Leaders, as brilliantly outlined in this blog by Tanmay Vora:

  • They recognize and nurture the potential in each team member, often identifying abilities and strengths that individuals themselves might overlook.
  • Multipliers create an environment of intelligence, where everyone is encouraged to think, and the collective brainpower of the team is harnessed.
  • Their support is unwavering, yet they set high expectations, inspiring others to push their capabilities and achieve heights they may not have thought possible.
  • By presenting challenges, they motivate team members to exercise their problem-solving skills and build resilience.
  • Multipliers excel at setting the stage for others to succeed, clearly defining the parameters that enable team members to perform effectively and confidently.
  • They understand the value of stepping back, allowing team members to take the lead on projects and make decisions that foster ownership and accountability.
  • In critical situations, these leaders trust their team to handle challenges, offering guidance that empowers them to act independently and efficiently.
  • Through their unwavering commitment to coaching, they unlock the full potential of their team, ensuring that each individual feels supported and valued.

The result? Their team puts in more effort, revenue increases, and the organization thrives.

What is a Diminisher?

In contrast to Multipliers, Diminishers are leaders who often drain the intelligence and capabilities of their team. They may have good intentions but tend to be overly controlling, dismissing others’ ideas and micromanaging their team. This stifles creativity and hinders collaboration, leading to a decrease in productivity and innovation.

Some common traits of a Diminisher include:

  • They use less than 50% of the team’s intelligence and capabilities.
  • They hinder innovation and talent by doing all the thinking themselves.
  • They have a tendency to take full control of everything.

Consequently, the workplace becomes filled with diminished morale, decreased innovation, and a talent drain as individuals seek an environment where they can truly thrive.

Image source: qaspire.com

The Relevance of Multipliers in the Hiring Process

Understanding and identifying Multipliers during the hiring process can give your organization a significant advantage. It not only benefits the team but also ensures that new leaders align with the company’s cultural values and growth objectives.

For hiring managers, recognizing Multiplier potential in candidates can be the deciding factor in building a high-performing team. Leadership is not just about skills and experience but also about cultural fit and the ability to inspire growth across the board.

Companies that attract Multiplier leaders naturally attract top talent-seeking environments where they can excel under such guidance.

How to Spot a Multiplier Leader When Hiring

Now that you know what a Multiplier Leader is and the benefits they bring to an organization, let’s discuss how to spot one during the hiring process.

  • Look beyond the résumé: While traditional markers such as career progression and achievements are important, look deeper at how the candidate achieved these milestones. Were they part of a collaborative effort, or did they single-handedly drive each project?
  • Check references: Talk to former colleagues and managers. Ask how the candidate motivated, inspired, and utilized the potential of the team. Also, don’t forget to look into how they handled challenges and failures — true Multipliers use these moments as growth opportunities.
  • Position the right scenarios: In interviews, present hypothetical scenarios that would require the candidate to leverage the collective intelligence of a team. Their response should hint at their approach to leadership: are they directive or empowering?

Final Thoughts

After reading Liz’s book, I came away with several thoughts about what it means to be a good leader.

First of all, wisdom doesn’t just come from the top. It comes from all across the organization. As a leader, you must encourage people to speak up and share their thoughts on improving processes or ideas that could contribute positively to the company. Give them a safe space above the water line to make mistakes, and allow them to produce their best work and set up the environment for their success.

In addition, encouraging your team to put their best foot forward is crucial, but it’s also essential to ask them regularly, “Is this your best work?”

Cultivate a culture where sharing mistakes is welcomed as well. As a leader, you can set the tone by publicly sharing your mistakes and the lessons you’ve learned from them. Encouraging your team to share their missteps can help to alleviate the fear of making mistakes, allowing everyone to feel more comfortable. By creating an environment that recognizes that making mistakes is a part of progress, you can signal that it’s okay to fail and help everyone understand where failure is acceptable and where it is not.

Multipliers demand the best work from their team by defending the standard. Take, for example, our approach as a high-touch executive search firm. We tailor every single search so that every person we speak to about the job feels like they are talking to a stakeholder in the company – i.e. our client’s firm.

In comparison, a Diminisher is like a tyrant. They bully people, demand things that infuse anxiety and stress, and generally create an oppressive environment. On the flip side, a Multiplier, through sharing a clear vision of the standards required, gets the best out of people. They do this by setting up a more nurturing environment, multiplying people’s efforts through more effective work, and producing better quality work.

Thanks for reading, and I hope this provides some useful food for thought. I’d love to know, have you read the book? If so, what other traits do you think are essential for a Multiplier Leader? Have you ever worked with one? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below, or feel free to send me a message.

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