Multipliers and Diminishers - Steve Barkley

Multipliers and Diminishers

Attending and presenting at the recent Learningforward Conference in Anaheim, CA, I had the good fortune to hear a keynote by Liz Wiseman the author of Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter (Harper Business June, 2010 ) Along with Greg McKeown, Wiseman studied 150 leaders and identified two categories:

Multipliers: These are the leaders who inspire others to stretch themselves to deliver results that surpass expectations.They use their intelligence to amplify the smarts and capabilities of the people around them. When these leaders walk into a room they generate participation… ideas flow and problems get solved. Diminishers: These leaders drain intelligence, energy, and capability from the people around them and always need to be the smartest person in the room. These are the idea killers, the energy sappers, they diminish talent and commitment.

Using five disciplines, which Wiseman and McKeown suggest are based on skills that we can all develop, multipliers generate twice the capabilities of their team than do diminishers.
1. The Talent Magnet: Attracts and deploys talent at its highest point of contribution.
2. The Liberator: Creates a climate of safety and ambition that both invites and demands people’s best thinking and work.
3. The Challenger: Defines an opportunity that causes people to stretch.
4. The Debate Maker: Drives sound decisions through rigorous debate.
5. The Investor: Delivers extraordinary results again and again without direct management. Let’s explore just two of these disciplines as they apply to teachers and instructional leaders and coaches: Liberator and Challenger

 In Wiseman’s presentation she discussed two teachers as examples of leaders who were multipliers. They maximized the capabilities of their students.

 Liberators create an intense environment that requires students’ best. Thinking of these classrooms, I envision lots of problem based  approaches… especially REAL problems…often problems that the students have identified as worth solving. As a Challenger this multiplier teacher limits his or her help to just the right touch that keeps a student struggling but not giving up.

The diminisher teacher is likely creating a tense environment…perhaps trying to motivate effort more with grades and test. Telling students what they need to know or do to be successful. These teachers are unlikely to learn from or with their students.

Being a multiplier is a great goal for instructional coaches. Too often teachers perceive a coach as one who should have the solution to the teacher’s problems or the person who will take the student, fix him, and bring him back. If coaches take the role of problem- solver, they will become diminishers.  Wiseman suggests that diminishers give directions that feature “how much they know” (a Know-It-All)…a big mistake for coaches.

She suggests that multipliers are Investors who give the ownership of the results to others and invest in their success…an ideal image for successful coaches.


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One Response to “ Multipliers and Diminishers ”

  1. Aventine View Says:

    Hi Steve, I love your blog. Your post reminds me of a comment a colleague said to me. She said “a good leader empowers others, they down power over people.” To bring out the best in others means entrusting and encouraging others. The Christian model is to be a servant leader. To serve others, so they can be their best. I think I’ll buy this book “Multipliers.” Thanks

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