From Manager to Leader to Multiplier: 4 Characteristics of a Multiplier Leader

In distinguishing between management and leadership, a common – and good – differentiation is that we have an obligation to obey managers, but we choose to follow leaders.  That has engendered a whole literature on what it takes to be a leader who is worthy of being followed, and it’s resulted in training of leaders to be more strategic, more compelling, better delegators, better communicators.  And yet, the essence of what makes an outstanding leader is not about what he/she does personally; it’s about what he/she does in relation to other people.  The best – the very best – leaders make more leaders.  They develop leaders out of every person they encounter and multiply their value to an organization.

The problem with the concept of ‘developing’ someone is that we too often think of it as something done to someone, when really, the true leader’s role is to facilitate someone doing it for himself.

To be a Multiplier Leader, you must continually facilitate the discovery, expression, and growth of others’ talents.  You must facilitate both individuals and groups of people.  And you must facilitate not only direct reports, but their employees, and your peers, and even your business partners.  The Multiplier Leader does four things exceptionally well:

  • Elicits Contribution to Vision:  Not only articulates well a vision for the organization – but asks well the questions that draw out each individual’s and each team’s vision for how they can most credibly, confidently, and enthusiastically contribute to the organization vision.
  • Invites and Fosters Goal Achievement:  Not only delegates well – but invites a commitment to delivery of significant bottom-line organizational goals by individuals and by teams, and fosters their success in meeting their commitments.
  • Encourages Innovation:  Not only encourages working as a team – but models and rewards learning from others and building on each others’ ideas.  Not only encourages ideas from within, but challenges people to look outside the company, the industry, and the business model for new ideas.
  • Promotes Development of Others:  Asks not only for a commitment for what each person will do himself/herself – but asks how he/she will develop others to create their own visions and make their own commitments.

To develop yourself as a Multiplier Leader,

  • Begin by asking open-ended questions to draw out others’ ideas and passions,
  • Express appreciation for good efforts at self-development,
  • Encourage reasonable risk-taking and exploring the feasibility of novel ideas,
  • Ask for stretch commitments, and
  • Continually identify ways for you, your colleagues, and your reports to extend development opportunities to others.

Who is the best Multiplier Leader you know?  What does that person do particularly well?

Written by Marge Combe, VMC Consultant

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