Jeff Marquez recently authored this piece for mid-level leaders on LinkedIn.
I have advised CEOs, owners, and senior executives that if you want to get the pulse on your organization, ask the mid-leaders—the heart and soul, the core of the company, business, or agency. They straddle the strategic and tactical levels of an organization, oscillate their thinking to increase value and impact up, down, and across, manage a finite set of resources, and are responsible for day-to-day operations more than any other manager or leader. More importantly, they are the critical link to employee recruiting and retention and, ultimately, to mission or project success.
Mid-Leaders shoulder a lot of responsibility. How do you get it all done? It is because of your Team. You know you cannot do it alone. But are you leveraging the full intelligence of your Team? In her book, “Multipliers,” Liz Wiseman describes how two types of leaders leverage intelligence:
Diminishers: Some leaders seemed to drain intelligence and capability out of the people around them. Their focus on their own intelligence and their resolve to be the smartest person in the room had a diminishing effect on everyone else. We’ve all worked with these black holes. They create a vortex that sucks energy out of everyone and everything around them. When they walk into a room, the shared IQ drops and the length of the meeting doubles. In countless settings these leaders were idea killers and energy destroyers. Other people’s ideas suffocated and died in their presence and the flow of intelligence came to an abrupt halt around them. Around these leaders, intelligence flowed only one way: from them to others.
Multipliers: “Other leaders used their intelligence in a fundamentally different way. They applied their intelligence to amplify the smarts and capability of people around them. People got smarter and better in their presence. Ideas grew; challenges were surmounted; hard problems were solved. When these leaders walked into a room, light bulbs started going off over people’s heads. Ideas flew so fast that you had to replay the meeting in slow motion just to see what was going on. Meetings with them were idea mash-up sessions. These leaders seemed to make everyone around them better and more capable. These leaders weren’t just intelligent themselves–they were intelligence Multipliers.
Perhaps these leaders understood that the person sitting at the apex of the intelligence hierarchy is the genius maker, not the genius.
Are you a diminisher or a multiplier? You used to be the one doing “it.” You might have been the smartest one in the room on “it,” but now your job is to be the genius maker of others. How do you do that? How do you inspire others to contribute their ideas, their intelligence? How do you become a multiplier? Wiseman offers five disciplines:
1. Attract and optimize talent – you are a talent magnet because you attract and deploy talent to its fullest regardless of who owns the resource.
2. Create intensity that requires the best thinking – you create a space where everyone has permission to think and do their best work; a comfortable, safe, and intense climate.
3. Extend challenges – plants seeds for opportunity by challenging others, stretching the organization.
4. Debate decisions – you drive decisions by engaging people in debate upfront, leading to decisions that they understand and can execute efficiently.
5. Instill ownership and accountability – transfer ownership, allowing your Team to own their work and expect complete work.
Add these two habits to accompany your multiplier discipline:
1. Ask great questions. Make them broad and open, so your Team will tap into and share their intelligence.
2. Listen more and learn to appreciate the intelligence and genius of your Team.
Be a multiplier. I often say the best ideas do not always come from the top. Carving out time and space for you to engage your Team’s genius is a low-cost, secure investment with a high payoff.