Many in our field work as front line fundraisers and work our way into leadership positions. As we transition, it is often easy to maintain our habits of “doing it yourself.” After all, we have been recognized for our achievement and hard work with promotions that put us in charge of other staff and often groups of volunteers. However, the new role requires a new skill set: maximizing the talent and performance of a group of people.
It was with this desire to learn more about how to maximize the talent with which I had been entrusted that made me so energized by the book Multipliers by Liz Wiseman. I heard Liz speak at a conference a few years ago and her presentation was very intuitive, yet powerful. She speaks of leaders who are “multipliers” versus those who are “diminishers.” In other words, even though you may not know it, you may be a “diminisher,” behaving in a way that lessens the productivity of the teams you lead, rather than multiplying their talents and skills. All of us know these bosses, the ones for whom no idea that is not their own is ever good or who have to revise everything someone else writes until it is unrecognizable. The diminisher is sometimes someone whose ego leads them to believe they know best, but often their acts of diminishing are accidental and done with what they believe is a good intentions.
One example is someone called the “rescuer.” This is the leader who sees a subordinate in trouble and, rather than help them work their own way through a problem, swoops in and takes over. This behavior teaches staff that they are incapable or undervalued and they start producing less as they feel the boss will always complete the work. The multiplier is the person who sees the problem and asks the subordinate, “What have you learned?” and “How would you propose to turn this into a win?” There is much more in the books Liz has written, as well as other resources at her website here. I commend these resources to the reading of anyone who is a leader, who will be a leader or who strives to be empowered by their leaders.