Abundant Living Vol. XV, Issue 24

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up . . .” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11 

In her bestselling book, Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, Liz Wiseman distinguishes between two types of leaders. One she labels as “multipliers” – thus the title of her book – the opposite being “diminishers”. Multipliers, she observed, behaved like this: “They applied their intelligence to amplify the smarts and capability of people around them . . . Ideas grew, challenges were surmounted, hard problems solved. When these leaders walked into a room, light bulbs started going off over people’s heads. . . These leaders seemed to make everyone around them better and more capable. . .” In contrast, “diminishers” tended 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.”

Recently I picked up another term compatible with “multipliers”. I learned it from one of my clients, a high-level leader in a large organization – and a multiplier – except he refers to himself as a “sponsor”; that is, he sponsors the people around him to grow and amplify their capabilities. He does this using positive reinforcement, encouragement, and public recognition when appropriate. The results, according to him, are that people become motivated to do anything they can to support the cause of the organization.

Back in my undergraduate days, a lot of attention within academia and corporate circles was being given to Theory X and Theory Y management styles, a concept developed by Douglas McGregor of MIT’s Sloan School of Management in the 1960’s. The two theories suggest this: Theory X, which assumes people are lazy and hate work, requires that managers must rely on threat and coercion in order to motivate employees. Theory Y, on the other hand, assumes people are naturally ambitious and enjoy work, thus respond well to positive motivation.

Which theory is true? According to Wiseman’s research people who work for multipliers / sponsors (Theory Y) are statistically 2.1 times more productive than those who work for diminishers (Theory X) – over twice as productive! Supportive words can make all the difference. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.”

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