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Are You a Multiplier or Diminisher in the Workplace?

Even our best intentions can cause others to come up short
Are You a Multiplier or Diminisher in the Workplace?

As Christians in the workplace, we realize that all of our work is ultimately for God (Colossians 3:23). Therefore, we should do our work with excellence. But how often do we allow this perspective to bleed into the way we interact with our colleagues? Do you amplify your coworkers' efforts and talents?

It's likely that you want to be a positive team player, but perhaps you don't know how. Or, as Liz Wiseman explained at this year's Willow Creek Association Global Leadership Summit, it's possible you're actually having the opposite effect. Liz is the president of The Wiseman Group for research and development in Southern California. Her book, Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, outlines what she has found to be the differentiating factors between people who make their team better and those who stunt their team's capabilities. She calls the first group multipliers, and the second, diminishers.

Here, we'll highlight some of the "accidental diminishers" Liz discussed—people whose good intentions don't always translate into positive effects for their team. One eye-opening realization: Many of these tendencies can be a particular challenge for Christians. Read on:

The Optimist

We know that having a cheerful spirit even in tough circumstances can be a witness to the hope we have in Jesus (Habakkuk 3:17-19). However, cheerfulness is not all we're called to, and in Liz's research, she found that cheerfulness, when used the wrong way, can sometimes hinder the effectiveness of the people around you.

Liz herself has a very can-do attitude in the workplace. She admitted that she always uses phrases like, "How hard can it be?" or "Not a problem!" Of course, this attitude is not necessarily a bad thing. Research has shown individuals who are optimistic tend to perform better at school, work, and life in general.

However, Liz found that optimism in leadership can sometimes suggest that all it takes is a smile to get the job done. Being overly positive can gloss over your team's struggle, failing to acknowledge their effort and the challenges of your project.

Yes, we are called to live joyfully, but we are also called to "weep with those who weep" (Romans 12:15). An important part of our faith is walking with others through times of celebration and through struggles, and this should be reflected in the way we interact with our co-workers.

The Rescuer

The rescuer is typically the leader who wants to step in to save the day. They don't want to see people fail so they often step in too early and hinder people from a vital learning experience. When something goes wrong or there seems to be a glitch in the system, the rescuer will take control of the situation and work to fix the problem themselves. Although the intentions of the rescuer are for helping and not hurting, it can often mean that other people in the workplace will not learn to solve their own problems. The rescuer therefore hinders their employees from being self-sufficient and able to operate without their direct presence. The workers will develop a constant dependency on the rescuer over time.

Hebrews 10:24-25 says, "Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the day approaching." As believers we are to consider how we can be of service to one another, and should encourage one another and recommend responsibility be shared. In a corporate setting or a relational setting, one person was not meant to carry the entire burden. If you are a sole bearer of all the weight when an emergency situation arises in your company, you may soon find yourself burned out. Evenly spreading the weight when a situation occurs will not only help everyone to become self-sufficient but will also allow you to see new strengths among the people working with you. God doesn't want us to carry all the weight on our own, and good boundaries will create a more productive environment that will equip everyone to handle work situations.

The Idea Person

This type of leader has a fountain of ideas they feel will help spark others' creativity. Their mind is going non-stop, and they may constantly be launching new initiatives. The problem with the idea person is that there is an overflow of information, and their ideas often lose traction as new ideas come to the table. Too much information clouds the vision of others, and may result in minor progress, disengagement, and discouragement.

The idea leader should ask the question, "What if I addressed people in the form of questions and let them find ideas?" Offer ideas but leave white space for people to work with it. This will allow people to contribute and really pay attention when you have a new idea. James 1:19 says, "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry." There is great value in a good listener, especially within the workplace. Sometimes postponing our own ideas will allow us to understand others.

Proverbs 12:15 says, "The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice." When we have a high opinion of our own knowledge, we will not be able to learn from God, or from others.

What kind of leader are you?

Liz Wiseman is a best-selling author, speaker, and advisor. She is also the president of The Wiseman Group, a leadership research and development center in Silicon Valley, California.

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Cassie Schenck and Amber Stenberg are former editorial interns at Today's Christian Woman. Follow them on Twitter @cassiejolene91 and @stenberg_a.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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