Last week I attended a great training workshop on how the best leaders make everyone smarter. I learned so much in a few short hours. The training was a little more digestible than the book, simply called, “Multipliers” , and was written by Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown. The idea is that as a leader, you can act to bring out the very best in people or you can, in the worst case, diminish what your staff will do. I think I am a natural multiplier but this class gave me suggestions on how to be better. Liz Wiseman was the presenter and she told the funniest story of how she dreaded getting her kids to bed.
MOM: Time for bed
KIDS: Not yet, I want to finish this puzzle
MOM: Now..you need to put that down
KIDS: Mom, just 5 more minutes
MOM: We talked about this before, when I say times up, times up
KIDS: OK, already (walks slowly around the room touching everything and in no hurry)
Then came the next task, which was that it was time to take a bath. The kids were reluctant.. etc.
A colleague asked her to try another approach. He said to ask the kids questions. As a result, everything should run more smoothly. She tried it, and it worked. She then wondered, why had she not thought to take that approach sooner.
Here are some of her questions:
MOM: What’s the first thing we do to get ready for bed?
KIDS: We go upstairs. (everyone starts moving)
MOM: Now that we are up here, what do we do?
KIDS: Take a bath!..(kids head for the tub)
MOM: Before we get out of the tub what do we do?
KIDS: Rinse the soap off….
MOM: What do we do after the rinsing?
KIDS: We dry off and put our pajamas on (as they grab a towel)..
MOM: Then what do we do?
KIDS: Brush our teeth (as they grab the brush)
This is an entirely different approach. The kids got to give a series of right answers and almost magically did the right thing. Who doesn’t like being recognized for having the right answer? What if work were like this? What if we believed that everyone wants to do the right thing and may even know what that is? What if we asked questions first? The age old worry is that the person really doesn’t know what to do. If you ask, then you can see if the answer is correct. If people learn to ask questions, more answers will be offered.
This approach is only one of the positive behaviors of a “multiplier”.
Asking questions is not so easy. We spend most of our time making statements and offering opinions. Try it and see if it works.
People with multiplier bosses feel valued, feel heard. They do amazing work, even more than you expect. People with multiplier bosses can help others multiply.