Why do some leaders drain intelligence and capability from their teams while others leaders amplify it? That question prompted me to spend years researching the two types of bosses I now classify as “diminishers”, who get less than 50% of the capability of people around them, and “multipliers” who get virtually 100%, as outlined in my May 2010 HBR article.
Diminishers are all too common in the workplace. Analysis I’ve done with several large companies has shown that approximately 20% of managers are under-utilizing their employees. Five hundred executives enrolled in a recent webinar indicated that an average of 43% of leaders in their organizations qualify as diminishers, compared with 10% per cent for multipliers and 47% who fell in between. And the anecdotal evidence is everywhere. As one frustrated high school science teacher wrote in an email to me: “The principal of our high school is a diminisher. At meetings he does 90% of the talking, always has to have the last word, and will usually say something that puts the listener down. He walks into classrooms while instruction is being given and interjects his thoughts on how the lesson could go differently. How can I help him become a multiplier?”
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