The Reluctant Challenger

Which of the five Multiplier disciplines do corporate managers struggle with the most? After several months of assessing management teams across a number of companies (and industries), we found the lowest scores and the most challenging of the five Multiplier disciplines is consistently The Challenger!

Why? It seems most of us aren’t asking people to do the hard stuff.

The Reluctant Challenger. We might think our people are already juggling complex demands or we might sense they are overworked. But, most staff will actually claim that, despite being busy, they are really underutilized. They desperately want more challenge in their job. When we play the “nice boss,” we hold back for fear of breaking people who appear on edge. But what appears like an edge might actually be a learning plateau. Multipliers give people a reason to climb off this plateau.

A reluctant challenger can kick start this cycle by first challenging him or herself to be a better leader.

Challenging Self. Kevin Lawrence, high-growth business coach and Multiplier advocate, was leading a workshop with management team. Kevin introduced the five Multiplier disciplines and asked them to consider where they might be operating as Accidental Diminishers. John, the CEO, was intrigued and stopped the conversation. He asked his team for feedback with two simple questions:

1. Where do you see me as a Diminisher?
2. How could I be more of a Multiplier?

The ensuing discussion was equally powerful on both questions.

Challenging Us. Several of his team members suggested that he needed to challenge them a lot more than he was doing. One member of the management team said, “You are an excellent leader and very, very positive, and we like that. What you could do is to push and challenge us harder, as well as telling us how great we are.” The feedback was enlightening to the CEO. His simple questions ignited a crucial conversation that allowed the whole team to raise their game.

Multiplier Practice. Become a challenger by inviting someone to do something hard. Try one of these questions:

1. What is the next challenge you are ready to take on?
2. What is the hardest thing this team is capable of doing?
3. What should I be asking you to do that would provide you challenge and growth?

Remember, be shameless about it. Your people will thank you for a reason to reach further.

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