by Rob DeLange, July 2012
Over the past few decades we’ve seen political revolutions sweep the globe, bringing down dictatorships in Eastern Europe, the Philippines, Libya, Egypt, and other nations. Seeds of democracy and freedom have been sown through these movements on a scale that is unprecedented in world history.
I believe a similar revolution is taking place now within the realm of leadership and management. Old assumptions, models, and notions about top-down leadership are giving way to a new paradigm called Multipliers, where the burden of thinking literally shifts from the leader to their people, and intelligence becomes exponentially more accessible and actionable across the enterprise.
Organizations that embrace Multipliers ideas are starting to realize the 2X effect as they effectively double their workforce capabilities with existing staff. In too many cases, however, we still see evidence that powerful hard-core (or accidental) Diminishers stay entrenched in less productive ways of thinking, delaying or hindering the spectacular results that might otherwise be realized if the full intelligence of their people were unleashed.
Most modern democracies have a constitution as a cornerstone of government to effectively prevent any one person or group from having too much power to violate the rights of others. What if companies had a foundation like this to govern leadership behavior within their corporate cultures? What constitutional protections would enable Multipliers leadership to thrive and replicate within organizations?
I’ve taken a stab at this using the US Constitution as a framework (only because I have more familiarity with that document than other national constitutions). My goal is to extract core principles of Multipliers leadership and codify it into a “Multipliers Bill of Rights”. In doing so, I’ve attempted to preserve as much of the original language as possible.
Freedom to Think. Management shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of intelligence; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the right of the people to have space to do their best thinking so they can find solutions to the most difficult and pressing problems.
Right to Challenge Assumptions. A well informed workforce, being necessary to the survival of the organization in times of rapid change, retains the right to challenge prevailing assumptions, current processes, and put forth new ideas that shall not be infringed.
Conditions for Intellectual Curiosity. No worker shall, at any time be “placed in a box” or prevented from learning in a manner that is independent of constant management oversight.
Right to Ask Questions. The right of the people to be secure in their quest for knowledge and get others out of their comfort zone, at times asking difficult discovery or challenge questions, shall at all times be respected by management.
Provisions Concerning the Free Exchange of Native Genius. No person shall be entitled to prima donna status, unless they are proven to be mistake-free. Furthermore, no one shall be compelled to impart knowledge or insights, without due process of inquiry; nor shall intellectual capital be taken from any individual for management use, without due credit to the originator.
Right to Debate. In matters of critical importance, stakeholders shall enjoy the right to a rigorous and public debate, with the decision making process communicated clearly to all. Participants must be informed of the nature and reason for the debate, be granted time to prepare, take an opening position, be confronted with contrary evidence, be willing to switch positions during the debate, and support the final decision regardless of personal views.
Right to Trial. In cases where needs of the business exceed available resources, the right to “supersize” a person’s job shall be reserved by management, and nothing written in that individual’s job description shall limit them in terms of their ability to learn and grow into the expanded role (other than restrictions explicitly prohibited by law).
Right to Make Mistakes. Excessive public humiliation shall not be required, nor excessive financial penalties imposed, nor career-limiting punishments inflicted for making an honest mistake (one time).
Rights Retained by the People. The enumeration of these rights shall not deny or disparage the thinking and contributions of others.
Rights of the People Manager. Powers not delegated specifically to managers at any level in the organization can be negotiated based on business need and the imperative to access the full capabilities of others, irrespective of title or tenure.
Rob DeLange is the Director of Training and Consulting at The Wiseman Group, a leadership research and development center in Silicon Valley. Rob enables organizations to deeply implement the essential practices of the Multiplier, as documented in the book “Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter.”