• Leadership for our times – a question of maths?

    Date: 2011.10.18 | Category: Leadership Testimonial | Tags:

     Mhairi Cameron Consulting Ltd


    What if I told you in these resource strapped times there was a way of increasing your team’s output and motivation without having to increase your resources?  And that the key to achieving this rests with you and your fellow managers!

    Focusing on resource allocation particularly when we were relatively speaking more rich in resources had become a norm in many of our organisations. If you wanted to increase a service or achieve more effectiveness then creating another post or posts , developing a new team became a way of resolving a particular tension or aspiriation for the service manager , leaders and wider organisation.

    Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown in their book  “Multipliers – How the best leaders make everyone smarter “published last year, set out compelling arguments as to why this dominant logic –  the logic of addition – more resources added for new requests fails. Negotiations between senior managers and operational managers go backwards and forwards , trade offs being achieved between the need for more output and people to deliver. Neither party wins, both are often left dissatisfied , people continue to feel overworked and the value added to the service, the customer, if we are truly honest with ourselves, remained modest

    If we can change the narrative within our organisations to one  on resources focused on better utilisation of people’s talent  and the logic to the logic of  multiplication then we can start from a different place. Leaders/senior managers who believe in the multiplication argument  believe that despite all the resource shortages most people in organisations are underutilised , that if we could tap into their true potential, capability can be multiplied, we just need to leverage this with the right kind of leadership. It is not so much a question of allocating resources as a  question of the mindset we as leaders bring to the challenge.

    This mindset is at the heart of the research carried out by  Wiseman and McKeown . The question they ask  is “Are you a Diminisher or A Multiplier?‘  A few words on the underpinning mindsets and behaviours of these two different kinds of  leaders  and managers.

    Diminishers lie at one end of the spectrum and are very intelligent and often experts in their field who have somehow not yet made the transition from looking beyond their own capability . They believe that intelligence is fixed – you either have it or you don’t  – that it is limited  and that people like them are really scarce. They tend to  take all the big decisions themselves,  micro manage and  do the thinking for everyone . They  can make people doubt their own capability by reinforcing theirs at every opportunity.

    At the other end of the spectrum are the Multipliers  equally bright and intelligent  who believe that intelligence is not limited to just a few  and who will actively create environments and shape challenges and assignments to provide stretch for people to grow capability. They are demanding leaders, this is not a soft option, but channel this into developing  intensity of focus rather than pressure on tough organisational questions. They give accountability, get out of the way whilst  at the same time being available for support  , they invest in their people , ask lots of questions and debate difficult choices  in the round. They  use their brainpower to connect to the brainpower of others and bring out new talent. People believe in their own capability!

    In the middle of the spectrum are the Accidental Diminishers but more about these in the next blog.

    Test this out for yourselves

    Select two managers from your career. One  you would characterise as a diminisher and one as a multiplier. List all the characterisitcs or reasons why you placed the manager under the approriate heading. Look at the results. Then ask yourselves what % of my potential  and capability was I able to bring to my role at that time  and compare the results .

    Select a couple of colleagues and ask them to do the same and compare results’. What is it telling you?

    When ever I have done this the results demonstrate  multipliers  get so much more from people for free ( sometimes  twice as much). Put another way diminishers cost the organisation, as they need twice the resources to get things done to the same standard!

    So let’s come back to the opening questions. What are you doing to leverage the talent of your team ?  How many of your recent conversations have been led from a multiplier mindset?  In your management teams where is the focus? On allocating resources or leveraging them? Who has the accountability? Who is asking the tough questions? Let’s  hear those Multiplier stories…….

    A post by Mhairi Cameron Consulting Ltd, email mhairi.cameron@btinternet.com, www.mhairicameronconsulting.co.uk