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The Leader as Force Multiplier

Two things to keep in mind if you want to be a Force Multiplier.

I got to spend an unexpected 90 minutes with two of our managers earlier this week. I had a client lunch cancel; they both were on-sight with open schedules. We compared calendars and realized all three of us had unexpected openings available. We did a “mini-audit” together by walking the facility and discussing how things were going, then we grabbed notebooks and sat at a table for 45 minutes.

We had a great conversation about their respective team members, the facility, client relationships and one or two minor vendor issues. I walked away proud of their efforts, and also satisfied that the small course-corrections we had discussed would be implemented immediately.

A Force Multiplier, according to Wikipedia, refers to an attribute or a combination of attributes which make a given force more effective than that same force would be without it. For instance, on a battlefield, if an army is equipped with radar to see where the enemy forces are, that radar capability can multiply their effectiveness.

As leaders, you and I need to see our relationship with our team members as “force multipliers.” We invest a little energy, strategically, at the exact points where our team members need to invest more energy. Our leadership focus helps them hone their eyes and their efforts.

For us to be effective as force multipliers, we need to employ two essential leadership best practices that at first can appear to be in opposition to one another: monitor what needs to be monitored, while at the same time giving freedom to your team members to do their jobs without micromanagement. The balance for us as leaders is found in this simple-but-profound truth about good leaders: they see everything but they don’t say everything.

When I was leading our spontaneous “mini-audit” with our managers earlier this week, I made sure I focused on the things they were doing well – while I saw a number of things that needed to be improved, I started with the areas of strength. And I only chose a couple of areas for improvement to emphasize in my discussions with them. I was trying to practice, “seeing everything but not saying everything.” If I could get them to take away the relatively few things I mentioned and implement them well, there would be a multiplication of effectiveness: the force multiplier would be at work.

Leader: what small things do you need to apply energy to that will have a big “force multiplier” effect with your team?