Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman

Although this is a business book there is much in here that applies to education on all levels - at the administration to teacher level but also at the teacher to student level.  It's a great read and examines what it is about some leaders that make others better and smarter.  It speaks to the need to step back and let others grow rather than stepping in and managing.  It is based in the idea of "growth mindset" that seems to come up again and again in the things that I'm reading.  It is based in the idea that we are always asked to do more with less... which means we need to find ways to leverage the assets that exist because we can't add anymore.  It is about letting people live their passion which means that work will not be work.  It is about growing other people's intelligence by engaging it.  It sometimes goes against what we want to do as teachers - as we want to impart wisdom or help or make things easier by laying the path.  It is worth the time it takes to read.

The book speaks to two types of leaders: Multipliers and Diminishers and the five disciplines that each have.  These are continuums that we move along.
  1. The Empire Builder (Diminisher) to The Talent Manager (Multiplier)
  2. The Tyrant (Diminisher) to The Liberator (Multiplier)
  3. The Know-It-All (Diminisher) to The Challenger (Multiplier)
  4. The Decision Maker (Diminsher) to The Debate Maker (Multiplier)
  5. The Micro-Manager (Diminisher) to The Inventor (Multiplier)
The book does talk about the fact that although multipliers make people feel good about themselves they are not "push-overs" as they demand a lot from those around them.

The book also talks about the "accidental diminisher" which is what I found most valuable as it is an opportunity to step back and look at the things that might be done as a way of "helping" but in the end it is a way of stopping progress/movement.  This is a particular challenge for me as I move from teaching in a self contained classroom to having to "hand over" my students to general education classrooms.  Staying too involved and helping too much can take on diminisher effects.  We aren't looking to just move what we did in the self contained classroom to the general education classroom which means that the disciplines of a multiplier take on an even larger significance. 

As the book moved through each of the disciplines it becomes evident that we are all going to have areas of strength and areas of weakness.  The suggestion at the end of the book in regards to moving towards being more of a diminisher was to find which discipline is your largest strength and to grow that at the same time as ensuring your biggest discipline is neutralized.  Don't focus on bringing you lowest area up to the top as you will probably not be strong in all five areas - you just want to ensure that one area doesn't do harm.

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