Editorial: Be a multiplier

April 2017


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John F Kennedy once said, “‘Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other”.

 Jude BarbackI can’t think of a more appropriate quote to introduce an issue for which the focus is leadership and professional development.

I’ve always been fascinated by leadership; what makes someone a good leader, how one becomes a leader, how one continues to grow, learn and adapt as a leader.

I decided to dive headfirst into this theme of leadership and learning and try to get inside the heads of those lighting the way educationally. From political leaders, to union leaders, to school leaders, to educational thought leaders – I’ve picked the brains of a range of people in different roles, trying to get a sense of their journeys and what drives them to drive others.

Be sure to check out the ‘Pathways to School Leadership’ article. In this, we quiz a principal, a member of a school leadership team, and a teacher in a middle leadership role on the different challenges facing educators at each step in their career. They share the professional learning opportunities that have been instrumental in helping them climb the ladder, and where handbrakes lie for slowing further progression.

Bec Power, the newly appointed principal of Muritai School in Wellington made this comment, which particularly resonated with me:

“It’s important to remember you don’t need a title to lead and to have influence; we can all probably picture a person in our own schools who has mana and influence without an official title. The important question might be – what does this person consciously or unconsciously do so effortlessly that we might learn from?”

So true. In many ways, the true essence of a leader is letting these qualities in others shine in order to collectively raise the bar. This calls to mind Liz Wiseman’s book Multipliers: How the best leaders make everyone smarter, which discusses how we can build collective intelligence throughout a school or organisation by encouraging people to be ‘multipliers’ rather than ‘diminishers’.

A multiplier is a talent magnet, someone who attracts and optimises talent, while its counterpart, the diminisher, is an empire builder. A multiplier is a liberator, requiring people’s best thinking, while a diminisher is a tyrant. A multiplier is a challenger; a diminisher a know-it-all. A multiplier is a debate-maker while the diminisher is a decision-maker. A multiplier is an investor; the diminisher is a micromanager.

The most common leadership pitfall – particularly for those who have worked hard to climb to the top of the ladder – is becoming absorbed in one’s own success rather than looking at how to bring the best out of others. Be a multiplier, not a diminisher.

Editor, Jude Barback

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