October 23, 2010

Sales Leader: Multiplier or Diminisher; Hero or Hero-Maker?

Our executive team attended Verne Harnish’s Gazelles Fortune Growth Summit this week. It’s a few days of drinking from the fire hose, listening to some of today’s best business minds and hottest authors. As usual, Verne – aka The Growth Guy, delivered an outstanding lineup of speakers and we left the Summit energized to implement much of what we learned.

My favorite session was led by Liz Wiseman, former head of Oracle University and author of the book Multipliers. Liz’ message was so compelling, I can’t get it out of my head.  Three days later, I’m still processing the content and how it plays out in my company, my personal relationships and in my role as a sales leader.

The simple and profound conclusion from Mulitpliers is that there are basically two types of leaders in organizations:  Diminishers and Multipliers.

Liz asks a very direct question:  Are you the genius or the genius-maker? Slightly editing that for the sales leader, are you the hero or a hero-maker?

The Diminisher has to be the smartest person in the room. The Diminisher makes the decision and then rolls it out. He tells you how it is and how it’s gonna be. He knows it all and has all the answers. The Diminsher’s style halts good thinking and diminishes the intelligence of people around him. Team members don’t follow a Diminisher by choice, and even more significant, they don’t give their all for this leader. In fact, they hold back, understandably so. The Diminisher needs to be the genius or the hero of the story.

The Multiplier, on the other hand, is a talent magnet. Everyone wants to be on his team. The Muliplier is a liberator who unleashes the genius that exists in his people. He encourages thinking and debate. The Multiplier challenges his team members to give more, do more, to achieve more. The Multiplier is continually asking the right questions and engaging the minds and hearts of his people. Not surprisingly, the research concluded that followers of Multipliers put out an extreme effort and many stated that they “give 120%” even when the survey choices maxed out at 100%.

Liz has a powerful message and research to back it up. That’s why her session made such an impact. I’m reflecting on the implications in my own life – professionally and with my family – and taking stock of my approach as a dad and husband. Am I a Diminisher at home? Do I ask the right questions to lead and challenge my kids, or am I acting like the smartest guy in the room who has all the answers?

As we lead, coach and manage salespeople, pushing hard to make them better and to achieve the results we want and need, the question I think Liz wants us to ask ourselves:

Are we the hero or are we playing the role of hero-maker?