Are you a plus- or a minusleader?

Change is enabled with a change within oneself. It is hard to execute a true organizational change if the parameters of an equation do not hold. Good self-awareness and continuous self-reflection provide a great platform for positive change. This platform is often built whilst standing still, quieting down and through humble exploring.

I made a recent exploration journey myself a few weeks ago listening to an American podcast where a great leadership thinker, Liz Wiseman, was interviewed. The topic was “How to deal with the Diminishers?”.
Liz had studied why some leaders make people shine, whilst others make yourself feel diminished and insecure. The latter group was called diminishers and they often use less than half of the organisation’s cumulative capabilities whereas the former, the multipliers, in fact multiply the capabilities and strengths. By diminishers Liz did not refer to organizational bullies, narcists nor the people who always want to shine at the expense of others despite of the context. Rather, she was talking about accidental diminishers. Leaders who are often intelligent people, curious about themselves, others and leadership in general.

Liz states that these accidental diminishers may unconsciously overuse their own strengths and capabilities so that people they lead feel tramped, frustrated or even anxious. E.g. quick idea-shooter-leaders may cause idea-laziness in their environment. The speed they have may cause others to narcotize.
Funnily – or luckily enough, there is a diminisher and a multiplier in all of us. What interests is how to cope with diminishing leaders and leadership situations where you might initially feel diminished?
The answer lies in your own attitude. Leadership is not a position, it is an attitude to it. Instead of feeling diminished with our strengths, we could provide the leaders a “user’s manual” to ourselves, i.e. “this is what I am good at and here’s how to use me”.

The greatest of strengths are often also the greatest of weaknesses. I am at times an idea-shooter myself but may cause a shut-down among others. My speed can cause anxiety.
As there are always two sides to a coin, two sides of a brain and a weakness attached to a strength, it is important to explore and learn with whom and in what circumstances the diminisher in me and you start acting. And just as you notice this- think of an alternative way to act and think.
We provide ourselves the light in the darkness. That light enables growth. Or quoting Stanley Kubrick: ”However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light”.

Everyone is a leader.



Eva Wathén
Partner and Coach, Gaia Leadership

Mobile: +358 40 6754822




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