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Behaving Like a Multiplier

Friday, September 4, 2015

I was lucky enough to hear Liz Wiseman speak about how to be a leader who brings out the best in your people. Multipliers she calls them, as distinguished from Diminishers. One of the differentiating behaviors is that, whereas diminishers tend to tell people what to do, multipliers ask questions. I had an unexpected chance to try out Liz’s teaching immediately after her talk.

Every Music Paradigm session requires its own unique room setup. Each room is different. A good setup makes people feel like they’re part of the action. A poor setup subconsciously makes them feel that they’re not included. Then they have a harder time differentiating between one performance of a passage (demonstrating one behavior), and another (demonstrating a contrasting behavior). The physical layout of the space is vital.

I hire various musicians to handle the room setup, and train them how to do it. On this particular occasion the setup person was relatively new to The Music Paradigm, so I wanted to visit the room in advance and check the setup. The moment I walked into the room I could tell that it was a challenging space – oddly shaped, unusual proportions. The chairs were all arranged, but I didn’t think this setup would work. My initial reaction was to first say, “Well, this won’t work,” and then tell my setup person what should be done to fix it. But hearing Liz’s word echoing in my ear I decided to try a different approach.

“What are the values,” I asked, “that determine how we setup the room?”

She thought for a moment, then replied, “Getting as many people as close to musicians as we can.”

“And how’s that working here?” I asked.

“Not very well,” she answered.

“What can we do about it?”

She stood for a moment, pondering the possibilities. “Well, we could shift the violin section over here,” she suggested.

“Then what about their connection with the cellos?”

“Well, we could move the cellos, too.”

Our conversation continued like this: with me asking questions that prompted her to keep our success factors front of mind, and with her considering how best to achieve those objectives. Within a half hour the setup was completed. It was every bit as good as I could have done myself. I hadn’t given her a single direct instruction. The biggest revelation for me was how proud of her I felt, and how pleased she was with her accomplishment. I was also more confident about the work she would do next time.  Thanks to Liz Wiseman, I had learned to behave like a multiplier.


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