Beyond the Build


The 2-Day Rule: How Leaders Multiply Talent

Routinely, I try to ask myself if I am being the right kind of leader. Am I leveraging and teaching? Or am I over-coaching, getting into too many of the details and crowding out creativity?

Am I allowing the “acorn” to grow or am I smothering it?

Over the summer, I received an email from a friend who works as a headhunter for professionals in the construction industry. He tipped me off to a book on this topic that certainly grabbed my interest, Mulitpliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter.

The Mulitipliers book is a study of 150 business leaders, focusing on what they do to optimize the performance of the managers they influence. Authors Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown identify two type of leaders: diminishers and multipliers.

Diminishers drain energy, ideas and commitment. They are convinced their involvement is needed to assist others to solve problems. These people are taxing, sucking the life out of their team and thus eliminating the ability to grow.

Multipliers get the most from their team. They engage the folks around them and amplify their natural talent. They believe their team is smart and can figure things out without help. They bring out the best in people and help them grow.

To me, these principles are particularly applicable to construction. In the short term, it can seem easier to respond to the stress of a resource squeeze by personally taking control. Yes, you know it will be done right, but you’ve also micro-managed the responsible team member, pushing him into a leader-follower situation. In order to foster business growth, we want to create a leader-leader scenario. I am going to try and do a better job at this.

We worked with a customer once who was a great example of balance. He had a “2-day rule.” When a problem came up that needed rather quick responses, he would give his team 1 day to solve. Usually, the problem was solved or somehow it became less of a problem. Only on the 2nd day did he get involved.

Any leader can learn to be a “multiplier.” By being true leaders (rather than know-it-all dictators), we can nurture others to become leaders. Where do you fall on the broad spectrum of diminisher–multiplier? What will you do to nurture and maximize the talent pool among your managers?


Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.