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  • Writer's pictureDr. Lisa Gonzales

Are You a Multiplier?

I've followed the work of Liz Wiseman for years. Her efforts around building teams and people is well know in the education ranks here in California. From multiplying the skills and energy of those around us to thinking like a rookie, being a leader who focuses his or her teams on supporting smart strategies is a great way to get more out of the employees that we have.

Our Cabinet (administrators who supervise others) in the Portola Valley School District is focusing the first few months of this school year on increasing our skills as multipliers and decreasing any tendencies we might have to be accidental diminishers.

Not heard of that term before? An accidental diminisher is one who inadvertently (because I'm thinking positively here) puts people in boxes and only views them in certain roles, maintains the status quo, and protects people while controlling resources. In some way, shape, or form, we all do it. But becoming aware of it is an eye opener.

Last month our team went through an online survey, having all created accounts (and they don't spam you!) and taken five minutes to evaluate ourselves. If you're in business, there is one for you too. From there, we each received some pointed feedback that was a call to action for each and every one of us. Even as simple as "you have high expectations and sometimes that makes others feel like their work quality won't be good enough" was interesting information to receive. We all like to have high expectations, right?

As the last month has progressed, we've gone through a chapter a week. Each week, a different leader leads activities, many of which were taken directly from the TOOLS provided by the Multiplier website.

But we've taken our learning a step further. Each of us has a goal for this year and we will reflect on it during our evaluation processes with one another (and for me, with my Board). What we've realized so far is that we are generally very good at hiring skills, competent, talented individuals into our district. Part of our work also needs to intentionally include how we fully utilize the talents that others bring and that we are nurturing during the year...and beyond. Staff members who are underutilized experience feelings of frustration and exhaustion and, in time, move on to other organizations where they can be more fully utilized.

In the Portola Valley School District, we have a well-stocked refrigerator of skilled staff members. Our task is to continue to develop those staff members, multiplying them, so that we don't regularly go shopping for new staff. Great goal to have, right?

Now...what will you do this year to be a multiplier?

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