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Be a multiplier

  • Published
  • By Jadee Purdy
  • 6th Civil Engineer Squadron, director

Everyone is a leader. Even our most junior teammates lead. While your individual sphere of influence changes based upon your position in an organization, as well as who you spend time with in your personal life, we all lead. My challenge to you is to make the most of every opportunity to grow as a leader, and if you haven't already, deliberately consider what kind of leader you strive to be.


It is a good practice to use the leadership characteristics of the people around you that you do or do not want to emulate. However, it is also important to select a foundation for your leadership style as a guide for your path. I frame leadership foundations in terms of being a multiplier or a diminisher. Interestingly, multipliers and diminishers have similar traits and characteristics. However, when these traits are applied, they produce drastically different outcomes.


Multipliers use expertise and knowledge to stretch the team and push it to grow in ways and areas they haven't previously explored. While it isn't always a comfortable feeling, multipliers challenge and disrupt the status quo in a respectful, team-oriented way. They ask focused questions in order to collaborate in finding the best solution. They start debates to foster engagement by all team members. Multipliers use positive methods to help people bring out the best in themselves and the team in order to increase productivity.


A diminisher is a person who, similar to a multiplier, shares expertise and knowledge while asking challenging questions. However, they do so in a way that belittles others in order to increase their own power. Diminishers need to feel as if they are the smartest person in the room. A diminisher may still get results, but productivity is reduced due to teammates feeling "shut down" after providing ideas.


One way to analyze your leadership style is to evaluate your team culture. Individuals who work for diminishers feel exhausted and frustrated. People who work for multipliers can feel exhausted, yet motivated.


A common concern we all hear about our Air Force is we try to "do more with less." However, while we may never be able to truly do more with less, we can lead others in a way that "multiplies" their contributions and teaches them how to do the same with others.


So, the next time you think about your personal leadership style, ask yourself, "Have I been a multiplier today?"