How the best leaders make everyone smarter
Book Review by Hazel Jackson, CEO biz-group
Hot off the press in September 2010, this is one of the most challenging business books that I have read; not because it is complex or difficult to understand, but it makes you question everything you’ve ever done as a leader! It is not for the faint hearted, or those that don’t want to look in the mirror and ask yourself “Are you a Multiplier or a Diminisher?”
Liz Wiseman is a former VP of Oracle University and now runs a consultancy business in the States. Working with Greg, a British consultant, they conducted extensive research which is well explained and justified in the book to prove their claim on this new and ground breaking Leadership Model.
The Forward by Steven Covey is impressive; he praises the book as one that will relate to your life today and will connect with your conscience. I found this short sentence to be so powerful and true – the book makes you stop, think and question your behaviour all the way through. It is also a very timely message, as the current economic climate means we can’t just hire extra bodies, we need to get the most out of the people we have, multiplying the intelligence from within the team.
Peter Drucker summarises the need “The most important contribution management needs to make in the 21st Century is to increase the productivity of knowledge work and the knowledge worker”. Multipliers gives you practical and easy to understand ways to get two times more from your resources by turning most intelligent resources into intelligence Multipliers. Like most effective Leadership Models, it is based on a continuum, with Multiplier at one end of the scale and Diminishers at the other. The two extremes are the very different assumptions that have a powerful effect on the way Diminishers and Multipliers lead others:
Diminisher: “They will never figure this out without me”
Multiplier: “People are smart and will figure this out”
These root cause assumptions are important to understand and simply behaviour follows assumptions. You can’t think like a Diminisher and act like a Multiplier.
Through the research, Wiseman identifies 5 disciplines of a Multiplier and the opposite behaviours witnessed from Diminishers.
|The Empire Builder
||Hoards resources and underutilizes talent
|The Talent Magnet
||Attracts talented people and uses them at their highest point of contribution
||Creates a tense environment that suppresses peoples thinking and capability
||Creates an intense environment that requires people’s best thinking and work
||Gives directives that showcase how much they know
||Defines an opportunity that causes people to stretch
|The Decision Maker
||Makes centralised, abrupt decisions that confuse the organisation
|The Debate Maker
||Drives sound decisions through rigorous debate
|The Micro Manager
||Drives results through their personal involvement
||Gives other people the ownership for results and invests in their success
The book is methodical in its description of each, with many examples for us all to relate to. In my experience, I believe the culture of the region pushes managers into the Diminisher side of the spectrum. Many organizations have a fear culture and managers feel part of this, trying not to loose face or be exposed, they hog the limelight and want to be seen as the solution provider to all problems. One of the chapters that resonated most with me was that Multipliers were not ‘feel-good’ managers. They were tough, demanding and exacting. Rather than achieving results in a directive way, they set clearly defined challenges to their team. Showing they believed in them, scoping out expectations and offering to be available if support was needed. But they did not micro-manage or interfere. They trusted, stretched their intelligent resources and then applauded as amazing results were achieved.
The research showed that Multipliers attracted talent – people wanted to work for them. Most employee engagement surveys show the number one reason people leave an organization is because of their manager. They don’t feel any growth, opportunity or recognition. Having read the book, I can safely say the #1 reason people leave an organization is they are being managed by Diminishers. If the book’s promise that a Multiplier Leader can get twice as much capability out of staff is a reality, then it must be something every organization needs to look at seriously. Many of the behaviours in the book are common leadership competencies; however, it’s the way they’ve shown the positive impact of these behaviours and some of the techniques and tools for changing your leadership style that make it new and refreshing.
A great example of these techniques helps you to become a better challenger – go extreme with questions. The root of this technique as a leader is to stop answering questions and start asking them. I found this highly enlightening and very frustrating because it is hard! Try for a whole management meeting to just ask questions of the team, rather than make any statements or provide any answers. It’s difficult and pretty unnatural, but it helps you realize how often you are normally diminishing input from others. In reality you should settle for a balance, asking challenging questions the majority of the time. A great question once you’ve agreed a stretching challenge for someone: “what do you need from me?” This way you show support without smothering their accountability.
Every element of the Multiplier best practices comes with clear examples of how you can change behaviour. This is profound read – it certainly impacted me as much as the leadership classics by Kenneth Blanchard ‘Situational Leadership’ and Covey’s own ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’. I believe this will also stand the test of time, is highly relevant to the current economic climate and more importantly, totally applicable to the Middle East region. If you are a business owner, CEO, or in a leadership role, this is a must read book. You need to know if you’re a Multiplier or a Diminisher and you need to know how to change your assumptions and behaviours to build the genius in others. Only once you’ve understood yourself, can you begin asking the rest of your team to change. Imagine if you could get twice as much productivity out of half of your team … what would it do to their worth and the worth of your business?
Part 1 - Click here to listen
Part 1 - Click here to listen
Book review by Hazel Jackson aired on Dubai Eye 103.8
Part 1 - Click here to listen
Part 1 - Click here to listen
This is one of the most challenging business books that I have read; not because it is complex or difficult to understand, but it makes you question everything you’ve ever done as a leader! It is not for the faint hearted, or those that don’t want to look in the mirror and ask yourself “Are you a Multiplier or a Diminisher?”
Multipliers give you practical and easy to understand ways to get two times more from your resources by turning most intelligent resources into intelligence Multipliers. Through the research, Wiseman identifies 5 disciplines of a Multiplier and the opposite behaviors witnessed from Diminishers.
Multipliers: Talent Magnets, Liberators, Challengers, Debate Makers, Investors
Diminishers: Empire Builders, Tyrants, The Know-it-All, Decision Makers, Micro Managers
Every element of the Multiplier best practices comes with clear examples of how you can change behavior. I believe this will stand the test of time, is highly relevant to the current economic climate and more importantly, totally applicable to the Middle East region. If a Multiplier Leader can get twice as much capability out of staff, then it must be something every organization needs to look at seriously. Imagine if you could get twice as much as productivity out of half of your team, what would it do to their worth and the worth of your business?
Learning another tongue can make travel easy and open opportunities
Dubai : In one of his meetings abroad to secure a major contract, Ebrahim Bakroon found himself lost in translation. Over coffee, some of the people he was dealing with started speaking in French and the Canadian expat had trouble understanding what was going on.
"I could tell they were talking about the contract but I couldn't join in the conversation because I didn't understand anything. I just stood there with my mouth open. Then, when we resumed the meeting, the direction of the discussion changed. All of a sudden, they increased the contract price," said Bakroon. "I felt disadvantaged." As a deputy general manager of a company in Dubai, Bakroon travels often, meeting and negotiating with foreign traders and suppliers. And in many cases, he has to deal with the French language.
"One time, I was driving from Toronto to Ottawa. Just as when I crossed the border, my navigator switched to French, the radio was playing nothing but French and the signboards everywhere were in French. I got lost," he recalled. Bakroon recently enrolled in a French class to break the language barrier. "I can now understand some words and phrases and when my colleagues at work talk in French, I can butt in. Now I know why learning a new language is important," Bakroon added.
Aside from improving communication, easing one's travel experience and opening up business opportunities, knowledge of a foreign language can also help in the advancement of one's career. Experts agree that being multilingual can give employees an edge, especially when they compete for an important position or seeking a job. "Individuals, who are active in learning a foreign language, relative to their industry and clients, have proven to improve communication, customer service and differentiate themselves from a growing competitive pool of the UAE working expats. "Languages create wonderful opportunities and open endless doors in life," said Inge Swart, marketing coordinator at Eton Institute.
But what kind of language should UAE residents invest their time and money on? Hazel Jackson, CEO of biz-group, said it would be beneficial for workers if they are bi-lingual in Arabic and English — the two main business languages in the country. In many international businesses, the country of origin's language is also a requirement. This ensures the staff can easily communicate with their head office team and also integrate into the UAE market. "Other languages would be more specific to their job role and who they need to interact with. With 204 nationalities in Dubai, the ability to communicate in more than one language is definitely an added advantage," she said.
"But if expatriates have a proven ability to learn different languages, then I would recommend it. Many nationalities are schooled in two or three languages which I believe makes it easier for them to learn additional ones later in life. Working in the Middle East, UAE expats should, as a minimum, learn the polite Emirati greetings and customs," she added. Griselda Ceveli can very well vouch for the advantages of being multilingual. The Albanian expat speaks Spanish, Italian, German and Japanese. Currently, she's also studying French.
"Once, I had to speak to an Italian company on behalf of my boss. My knowledge of the Italian language definitely proved helpful," she said. "Besides, people also get fascinated when they meet an individual who speaks many languages. I always indicate that in my resume and I believe it makes me more attractive as a job applicant."
Expats keen to learn languages
Dubai A growing number of UAE expatriates are learning a new language for career advancement or personal growth. Every year, the Alliance Francaise in Dubai, which offers Arabic and French classes, records more than 2,500 students of more than 90 nationalities. About 70 per cent of the students are adults and a majority of them are interested in French. In an interview with Gulf News, Dominique Chevallier-Wixler, the organisation's director, said about 60 to 70 per cent of their students are studying for professional reasons. Some are working with French-speaking staff, while others want to develop new partnerships, enhance their CVs or migrate to a francophone community such as Quebec in Canada. "The remaining 30 to 40 per cent learn because they love the language. They associate it with culture. They are planning to go to France on vacation. They love fashion, perfumes, gastronomy and make a direct link with French traditions and expertise," she added.
Chevallier-Wixler also noted that learning French has attracted quite a lot of interest from expats wishing to migrate to Canada. In fact, she said, a significant number of people are taking exams to obtain a "TCF pour le Quebec" (TCF for Quebec) certificate, which is required from those wishing to settle in Quebec. She admitted that learning French takes time, say five years on average. But the level of progress can depend on one's expectations, conditions of apprenticeship and exposure to the language. "If you have friends who speak the language, you listen to French music and watch movies, for instance, your capacity to learn will be better," she added.
Local institutes can help
Learning a new language can take not only many months or years of dedication, but money as well. Each course can cost a little over Dh1,000 to nearly Dh4,000. At the Eton Institute, which provides lessons in over 100 languages, an intensive group class that can run for 30 hours and consist of six to 15 students costs Dh1,350, while private lessons cost Dh3,650 and semi-private, Dh2,250. Online courses tend to be cheaper, at Dh1,250 for 12 months, while software courses cost Dh99. The rates for classes don't include learning materials, which can be an additional expense of Dh150 to Dh285 for Arabic and English and between Dh50 and Dh200 for other languages. Registration fee is pegged at Dh100. At Alliance Francaise in Dubai, Arabic and French language studies can cost about Dh1,500 per course that runs for over a month.
Since studying a new language requires an investment in time, this can create a problem for workers who have demanding jobs. To find the balance between work and study, Hazel Jackson of biz-group suggests taking up the issue with the line manager and HR team. "Many companies support language development when it is relevant to a person's performance. If your company does not offer assistance and time is restricted, start with some of the audio programmes while travelling to work, or online courses in your spare time." "Find a native speaker within your organization and ask them to be a buddy, using break or lunch times to speak the new language," she added.
Book Review by Hazel Jackson, CEO biz-ability
I’ve long been a fan of Marcus Buckingham’s work and his passion to get organizations focusing on employee strengths. He has written a series of books on the topic, I’ve picked his initial one to review on the Business Tonight radio show on 103.8. The book encourages you to find out your strengths and then aim to spend 80% of your work time playing to them…..find out more in the book review and podcast.
By Marcus Buckingham
Marcus Buckingham proclaims himself as the leader of the ‘strengths revolution’. His research, backed by the research of other academics from management institutions, such as Harvard Business School and Gallup, is focused on helping people reach their true potential by unearthing their natural talents and building these into strengths. He believes we are all fixated on finding fault and mending weaknesses. His classic example centres on something we can all relate to – the education system. We typically uncover a weakness in a student, or our own children, and then spend more time, effort and extra tuition trying to correct it. His approach is the opposite, he says study and discover your strengths, and then use those unique and often different talents to provide strength to the organisation you work for. This might all sound ‘warm and fluffy’ but it is based on extensive research.
Through the Gallup organisation, they asked and analysed 198,000 employees, working in 7,939 business units with 36 companies, with a simple question: At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day? They compared the responses with the performance of the business units and discovered the following results: When employees answered “strongly agree” to this question, they were 50% more likely to work in a business unit with lower employee turnover, 38% more likely to work in a more productive unit, and 44% more likely to work in a business unit with higher customer satisfaction scores. Over time the business units that increased the number of employees who strongly agreed, saw comparable increases in productivity, customer loyalty and employee retention.
Buckingham presents this as conclusive evidence that employees, who are playing to their strengths every day, ensure a more powerful and more robust organisation.
Beyond this specific research to track the trends, they asked the same question to Gallup’s entire database of 1.7 million employees in 101 companies, across 63 countries and established that only 20% of employees feel their strengths are used every day. Buckingham challenges our standard corporate practices: training and developing gaps in people; spending more time in performance management discussions on weaknesses, and setting objectives based on improving poor performance areas rather than further developing strong skills and abilities. He provides a framework for “building a strengths based organisation”, which includes getting hiring right in the first place, and channelling each employee’s career based on strengths.
As a member of a training company and believer in developing individuals, I think he does go to the extreme at times, and is certainly controversial. However, I do believe the principals can be applied to all businesses of any size. It doesn’t mean we get to stop doing things that we don’t like. Who really wants to do the filing? But it does encourage companies to push the current average of only 20% of a job playing to someone’s strengths up to 80%! As you build or hone your strengths, you should be able to gain consistent, near perfect performance in an activity. He uses clear definitions of the terms ‘talent’, ‘strength’ and ‘weakness’:
Your talents are your natural recurring patterns of thought, feeling or behaviour.
Your strengths are those activities that make you feel strong – that energise you.
Your weaknesses are those activities that leave you feeling weak – that bore you, drain you, or frustrate you
The first 50 pages of the book reinforce this basic message and provide a number of examples of people who live ‘strong’ lives, and have seen the difference when focused on their strengths. He brings in practical applications and some reality checks. Readers are then encouraged to complete the StrengthsFinder survey online. In fact, at the back of every book is a scratch panel that reveals a code to enable the reader to fill out the survey online for free. Marcus admits the best way to discover your strengths is to study your behaviour, feelings and reactions to things over an extended period of time, but in reality we are rarely disciplined enough to do that. Therefore the StrengthsFinder survey provides you with a quick insight to sharpen your perception.
Again after extensive research, the organisation designed a series of questions that help hone your strengths, or where you have the greatest potential for strength. From the 34 different themes, the report will highlight your top five. The book describes each theme in detail with practical examples, talks about putting them to work, and addresses a lot of questions and concerns about playing to your strengths. My favourite section is on how to manage the strengths in others. It provides a hugely useful insight for any manager trying to get the best out of someone and develop talents into strengths. Finally he looks into strengths at an organisational level and how you can build a strength based culture.
My top five strength themes are: Achiever, Activator, Relator, Strategic and Woo – what are yours?
 Titles include: First Break All the Rules; Now Discover your Strengths; The One Thing You Need to Know
Part 1 - Click here to listen
Part 2 - Click here to listen