by Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown
the affirmative response is about 99 percent.
Then I ask a second question: “Who here feels the pressure to produce more from less?” Again, a sea of hands goes up. When you put those two questions together, you can see the challenge.
- from the Foreword by Stephen R. Covey
If he is a good pastor, he continues: What if God is asking us to lead some new and exciting thing he is doing? What if God has a new season of blessing and favor and breakthrough, and wants us pressing into his promises toward Kingdom victory?
How tragic would it be if God’s dreams failed... not for lack of gifts, but lack of their release? Not because God did not give and reveal, but because people did not use them?
How sad would it be if such a pastor, in spite of his dreams, was actually part of the problem... and did not even know it?
On the other hand... Imagine a parish or Christian community, led in such a way that NO gift, NO talent, NO intelligence, NO charism, NO money, NO resource was left on the table. Is such a thing even possible?
While it may be rare, some organizations come close. Closer than others, at least. The common differentiator between those that tap all their potential and those that don't?
World class business consultant and best-selling author Liz Wiseman calls them “Multipliers.” They are leaders who consistently get the best out of people. Multipliers have something better than genius: they have the ability to draw out the genius in others. They are genius-makers.
Conversely, a “Diminisher” seems to drain intelligence and capability out of the people around them. They are “idea-killers and energy destroyers.” They are often the smartest person in the room - and make sure you know it. Their intelligence flows one way: from them to others.
The main assumption of the multiplier: People are smart and will figure it out.
The main assumption of the diminisher: People will never figure this out or succeed without me.
This excellent book has given me an invaluable reference point for pastoral leadership. It ties in nicely with Catholic social teaching, particularly the principle of subsidiarity. I find myself returning to, thinking about, and applying “Multiplier” principles every day. This book may prove to be among the most helpful and useful tools I have encountered as a pastoral leader.
1) The Talent Magnet - These leaders are genius watchers. They spot people’s gifts and then connect them to opportunities and needs of the organization. “They attract talent and deploy it at its highest level of contribution.” They create “cycles of attraction” as they develop a reputation as someone great to work for. They plug people in where they can most contribute and remove obstacles preventing them from doing what they do best.
Diminisher: The Empire Builder hoards and under-utilizes talent; they “collect” geniuses but then let them languish. They may actively seek and acquire talent, but they are oblivious to its development. Their organizations become knows as the place where talent comes to die.
2) The Liberator - These leaders find a stage for others, not themselves. Instead of seeking control, they give people space allowing them to do their best work. They give freedom to think, speak, and act with reason. They create intense environments where people are given lots of space to step up, with the expectation that they give their best work in return. Liberators are “ferocious listeners” and know that “people’s best thinking must be given, not taken.”
Diminisher: The Tyrant shuts people down through a spirit of control, stifling creativity. They create tense environments of unease and fear, encouraging risk-averse paths of caution and mediocrity. Leaders in hierarchical organizations need to be especially mindful here, as the playing field is uneven from the beginning.
3) The Challenger - These leaders define opportunities that stretch people to go beyond what they thought possible. They know how to ask the right, leading questions that can re-frame problems and challenge assumptions. They are unafraid of mistakes, whether their own or others; for they know that mistakes can result in greater learning and growth. They lifelong learners with an insatiable curiosity to know more and get better. They are not afraid to “seed opportunities,” lay down audacious goals, and trust their people to rise to the occasion.
Diminisher: The Know-it-All does’t ask; he tells. He gives directives showcasing his own knowledge, and may indeed be a genius... but not a genius maker. So used to being the smartest person in the room, these leaders forget that others might have something to contribute. Fear of appearing smarter than the boss breeds yes-people padding their leader’s ego to get ahead.
4) The Debate-Maker - These leaders access a wide spectrum of thinking in a rigorous debate before making decisions. They want to leverage every ounce of intelligence and capability before making important decisions, and so they ask questions that demand the most rigorous thinking and answers. They get great thinking through provocative questions and rich debates, and must include data and evidence. “Your greatest contribution might depend on your ability to ask the right question, not have the right answer.”
Diminisher: Decision-Makers only engage a select few in their decision-making process. They under-utilize the majority, overwork their inner circle, and make poorer decisions by missing out on valuable input that a vigorous, data-driven debate could have provided. Many potential great ideas and solutions are left on the table.
5) The Investor - These leaders give people ownership for results and invest in their success. They know people perform at their best - and provide the greatest “return” - when they have natural accountability. They are not “fixers” but rather, challenge others to come up with the fix. Investors love giving people real responsibility and then holding them accountable for results. They do not shelter people from negative consequences, because they know “real intelligence gets developed through experimentation and by trial and error.”
Diminisher: Micromanagers manage every detail of the work to ensure it is completed the way they would do it. Under them, people are dependent and passive, waiting to be told what to do. “Micromanagers hand over work to others, but they take it back the moment problems arise.” The message they send: leave the thinking to us.
I felt mixed emotions when reading this book (I read it twice, plus listened to the audio book). I was excited by the possibilities of becoming a Multiplier pastoral leader and seeing more of this style of leadership in church cultures. On the other hand, I was saddened to realize how often I have been an unwitting Diminisher. Wiseman calls us “accidental diminishers.” But thankfully, the book has grown my awareness and made it easier now for me to succeed as a Multiplier.
Wiseman insists that Multipliers are hard-edged leaders. There is nothing “soft” about them - they expect and demand results. But they get them by counting on and pressing into people’s intelligence and gifts, assuming they are smart and can figure it out. People respond by giving their best work.
The world is facing a crisis of leadership which affects everyone, including the church. Although Multipliers is not a church book, its principles are for me solid, applicable, relevant, and extraordinarily useful. I find that they ring all too true. This book has given me some categories and terminology to help me clarify what winning looks like as a pastoral leader. I’m pretty sure I myself, and the people I spiritually lead and serve, will benefit the more I lead like a Multiplier.
I am grateful for the authors and so many like them, who diligently study best practices of organizations so people can thrive and flourish in this world in which we all must live and work. I believe Liz Wiseman is contributing to the Kingdom in her own way by helping us improve the natural order, create more humane and productive environments, and enable people’s intelligence and creativity to flourish.
From what I have experienced, we have a long way to go until our Catholic organizations become Multiplier-friendly. Too much Catholic ministry is still marred by Diminisher ideas and models. A thriving lay apostolate as envisioned by Vatican II and recent popes is too often thwarted by entrenched clericalism and a parent-child model of ministry where clergy act as service providers and laity as consumers.
I would be interested to see what a more thorough and thought-out application of Multiplier principles would look like on the ground in real life Catholic organizations that are serious and intentional about releasing people's gifts and equipping mature, well-formed disciples for the renewal of the world.
Join with me in praying that God will raise up a new generation of Multipliers for the church and for the world!
- Was Jesus a Multiplier leader? How about the Apostle Paul? Other saints? What are some examples you can think of from Scripture and church history?
- Have you personally known some faith leaders who led like Multipliers? How did they help you grow and contribute to advancing the Kingdom?
- How can local church communities foster Multiplier styles - and hinder Diminisher styles?
- The church world, unlike the business world, has a clear clergy/laity distinction. How might this change - or complicate - the application of Multiplier leadership principles?
For more information:
Liz Wiseman "Read to Lead" podcast interview #030
Great, brief synopsis of Multipliers in Harvard Business Review
SUBSCRIBE to PQ