The Accidental Multiplier

People often wonder if they are Accidental Diminishers.  But, have you ever wondered if you might be an Accidental Multiplier—a leader who pushes out ownership and thinking to their team, because they can no longer do it all themselves.

One such leader is Dave Havelek, VP of Investor Relations for Salesforce.com.  Dave is smart and driven, often working from 7AM-Midnight—and beyond.  He is also a self-declared “super-stressed, super-opinionated” leader.

In his last meeting with his team before leaving for a five-day offsite, he ran out of time.  He got through the first four items, but number five was critical: How to organize the team for an upcoming, crazy, eight week crunch.  He dreaded the thought of staying up to 2:30AM to put the roles and responsibilities together.

Up against these constraints, he offered an off the cuff remark, “Okay, while I’m away next week why don’t you all just figure out what this should look like.”

The effect was instant.  There was a sudden surge of energy in the room.  People immediately started talking about how to make this happen.

Dave paused when he told me the story and said, “I think I spend a lot of my time as an Accidental Diminisher but in this case I think I was an Accidental Multiplier!”

What a thought!  By admitting his own constraints Dave actually ended up removing constraints from his team.

In the past I have thought of leading like a Multiplier as being harder than leading like a Diminisher.  But what if exactly the opposite is true?  After all, if you lead like a Diminisher the burden for thinking rests entirely with you.  As a Multiplier that burden can be shifted to others.

To take advantage of Dave’s insight, identify an area where you suspect you are a bottleneck for your people: a place where you are in charge but you consistently struggle to get things done in normal work hours.  Then work with your team in shifting the whole responsibility to them.  You might well liberate your team in a way that also liberates you.

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