Finding Your Inner Multiplier: Becoming a Talent Magnet

A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about the five kinds of multipliers, or leaders who multiply the collective talent and intelligence of their organizations. Liz Wiseman coined this term in her excellent book Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter.

I’d like to take this opportunity to explore the first type of multiplier, the talent magnet. Wiseman writes that talent magnets “get access to the best talent, not because they are necessarily great recruiters, but rather because people flock to work for them . . . they attract talented people and then use them to their fullest.” People want to work for talent magnets because they know they will grow and learn as a result. Talent magnets attract the type of employee that shows up for more than a paycheck.

On the other hand, diminishers, or managers who stifle those around them, have a tendency to “operate as empire builders who hoard resources and underutilize talent. They bring in top talent and make big promises, but they underutilize their people and disenchant them.” Anyone can attract talented people with the lure of a large salary and an impressive title—but only a multiplier will be able to retain that talent and use it to full advantage.

The process of becoming a magnet for talent begins with what Wiseman calls the “cycle of attraction.” Talented individuals are first drawn to a leader because of that leader’s confidence, drive and ambition. They must have a vision that inspires and challenges others. This opens up opportunities for talented people to step outside of their comfort zones and become better at what they do. In the process of doing so successfully, other talented individuals with take notice and be attracted to the organization. The more talent you draw in, the greater their circle of influence and the stronger your “magnet” becomes.

Of course, the opposite is also possible—what Wiseman calls a “cycle of decline.” This occurs when leaders attract talent with big promises but fail to follow through on them. The talent they initially attracted becomes bored or disillusioned and moves on to greener pastures. This will result in a brain drain that can quickly sink an organization.

So how can you take steps to become a talent magnet if you’re not one already? Some people might assume that magnetism is simply an inborn trait that one either has or doesn’t have. There is some truth to this. Some of us are simply more charismatic than others. But that doesn’t mean you can’t improve your leadership style in order to attract better talent.

Working with a coach is an excellent way to evaluate the effectiveness of your current leadership strategies. You should consider coaching even if you think everything is going well—in fact, it’s better to call in a coach during good times rather than waiting until your ship is taking on water. An executive coach will help you to evaluate the staff you already have and determine whether or not they are being put to the best use possible. It’s important to make sure your current employees feel like they’re growing and learning, as this will send the message to others that your organization is a place where talent is nurtured.

Want to have a conversation about the level of talent at your organization? I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me via my website, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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