Imagine a weekly staff meeting. The meeting follows a predictable format with each member giving their report, informing their colleagues of progress being made and issues within the function. It is pretty much a bland functional report-out session. The manager is at the meeting as well. Known as the one who always has the best solution to any given problems. When the manager talks none of the rest have their say. For third parties it is obvious that intelligence flow only one way – from the manager to the rest of the workforce. In other words: There is a massive underutilization of the brainpower in the room. 

You probably recognize something from the scenario. A manager or perhaps a colleague who made you question your own intelligence.  

The challenge with such leaders is that their constant focus on own intelligence and their resolve to be the smartest person in the room has a diminishing effect on everyone else. There is simply not the place for new ideas and personal growth. This impedes the organization’s development.  

Such leaders may hire smart people, but they quickly put them in the background.


Unleash the value of the workforce

Once again, imagine this weekly staff meeting. Instead of being a bland functional report-out session this meeting is transformed into rigorous debates on the jugular business issues.  

For third parties observing this meeting, it is obvious that the manager asks the questions that make others think. The brainpower is brought into play. A management style where the manager uses his/her intelligence to amplify the smarts and capability of people around them. One who is sincere interested in inviting the employees to join the decision processes. These managers have the ability to make everyone around them better and more capable. 

In her book: “Multipliers – How the best leaders make everyone smarter” Liz Wiseman describes and shows what every successful CEO and CFO have in common: They are all like the leaders from the last scenario – “Multipliers” she calls them. These leaders hold a management style that create a more productive organization by unleashing the intelligence and capability in others. In analyzing data from more than 150 leaders the book shows how Multipliers can have a resoundingly positive and profitable effects on organizations: Getting more done with fewer resources, developing and attracting talent, and cultivating new ideas and energy to drive organizational change and innovation.    


Behavior follow assumptions

The distinction between these management styles is not black and white, Wiseman says. Leaders who hold both management styles know that it is important to utilize the employees’ skills. They are both customer driven, have strong business acumen and market insight. Both surround themselves with smart people, and both consider themselves thought leaders. However, Wiseman shows how leaders’ assumptions about the intelligence of the workforce affect their management.  

In several blogposts we stated why it is beneficial for organizations to develop a culture where leaders believe that talent could be developed in everyone in the workforce. In other words, a belief that talent is not a fixed, innate gift that some have, and others don’t.  

A believe that the manager’s job is to bring the right people together in an environment that liberates people’s best thinking. In other words, a growth mindset organization.  

On the other hand, managers in a fixed mindset organization tend to diminish the intelligence in the people around them. For them to look smart other people must end up looking dumb.  

The chart below shows how the different sets of assumptions influence the way respectively ‘fixed mindset’ and ‘growth mindset’ leaders lead others:  

How to…   Fixed mindset   Growth mindset  
Manage talent  Hoards resources and underutilizes talent   Attract talented people and uses them at their highest point of contribution  
Create work environment and approach mistakes   Creates a tense environment that suppresses people’s thinking and capability  Creates an intense environment that requires people’s best thinking and work  
Set direction    Gives directives that showcase how much they know   Defines an opportunity that causes people to stretch  
Make decisions   Makes centralized abrupt decisions that confuse the organization  Drives sound decisions through rigorous debate 
Ensure progress   Drives results through their personal involvement   Gives other people the ownership for results and invest in their success  

 *inspired by Wiseman: “Multipliers – How the best leaders make everyone smarter” 


Develop the core assumptions

Being a growth mindset leader and building a growth mindset organization is not something that happens overnight. It takes time to create a new culture. It takes time to change and develop a growth mindset.  

However, the positive results of developing a growth mindset culture are many. To name a few Dweck and Wiseman’s have shown that organizations who extract people’s full capability/foster a growth mindset get twice the capability from people than leaders with a fixed mindset.  

Growth mindset leaders:  

  • See intelligence as continually developing. 
  • Believe that intelligence grows through engagement 
  • Are listening more and telling less
  • Appreciate the knowledge of the workforce  
  • Believe that the collective is smarter than the individual 
  • Ask the question that make others think 
  • Find assignments that both stretches the individual and furthers in the interest of the organization 
  • Believe that people want to be fully utilized 

Do you want to change your management style with authenticity and impact? HUCAMA can help by providing the tools you need to examining and identify your core assumptions to become a true genius maker.

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