Chapter 3 - The Liberator

A tip is when offering opinions, label them as soft opinions or hard opinions. A soft opinion is one for consideration only, a hard opinion is for when you have a strong view.

Multipliers liberate people from the oppressive forces of corporates. Give people the freedom to think, to speak and to act. Thus, the best ideas emerge. Multipliers create an intense environment for others to flourish and do their best work in.

In contrast, the tyrant creates a tense environment where people shut down their thinking and capability under intimidation. Only the safest ideas are offered.

A liberator can expect:

  • easy idea generation
  • rapid learning and environment adaptation
  • peer collaboration
  • complex problem sovling
  • accomplishment of tasks

Example 1: Ernest is an example of a liberator. He deliberately creates an environment where people can voice ideas, but makes it very clear, that if you offer an opinion, it has to have data, not anecdotes. He also dispenses feedback quickly, sometimes harshly, and in small doses, so people can learn from it. "When decisions are. collective, the mistakes are collective too".

Example 2: Steven Spielberg. He knows eeach person's job intimately and doesn't do it for them, but expects the very best from them. His crew stick with him and he outputs a great amount.

Example 3: Kelly, a high school teacher. He makes it clear that students are here to work hard, think and learn in an environment that gets lighter and fun, as the students work harder. He doesn't hide anything from his students and lets them know what to improve on. His enthusiasm for the subject is also contagious.

The environment that a liberator creates is both of comfort and pressure. I give you space, you give me your best work. I give you permission top make mistakes, you learn from them.

Three Practices of the Liberator

1) create space

2) demand people's best work

3) generate rapid learning cycles

1) create space

Release others by restraining yourself. Resist the temptation to jump in. Don't let the habit of your subordinates become automatic deferral to you.

Shift the ratio of listening to talking. Listen ferociously, listen to the extreme. This creates space for others to share what they know.

"How smart you are is defined by how clearly you can see the intellect of others" C.K. Prahalad

Define a space for discovery. Take a "risk and iterate" approach. It it doesn't work out, we can learn and evolve from it.

Level the playing field. You'll need to manage meetings and discussions because insightful voices maybe be muffled out.

2) demand people's best work

Ask people: "is this your best work?", if not, then reject it.

Defend the standard. It's not just about getting it over the line, or winning, that's not enough. Don't let the standard drop. "Did you do your best?"

Distinguish best work from outcomes. Best work isn't a certain outcome. Outcomes may not be in control, and causes stress (it's also unfair). Hold accountability for execution, not for the result.

3) generate rapid learning cycles

Let people make mistakes, oblige them to learn from them.

Admit and share mistakes. By making mistakes public and taking an intellectual curiosity toward it, you make it safe for others to follow in your footsteps.

Insist on learning from mistakes. If you're making mistakes enquire about it. What is it? Who did it impact? How can I do better? How can I avoid it? I wish you have told me sooner. This results in a creative intensity.

The diminisher's approach to environment

D's swing between two modes: 1) militant insistence on their ideas, 2) indifference to the ideas and work of others. They dominate space, judge and stifle others with anxiety.

Dominate space - the action of garnering maximal attention and leaving little room for others to do anything, let alone be intelligent and creative. Other clues include: strong opinions, micromanagement, tactical absence.

Create anxiety - tyrant can be tempermental and unpredictable. They impose an "anxiety tax" that looms and makes others waste energy tip-toeing around. "What could set off him off again?".

Judge others - cycles of criticism, judgement and retreat. People shy away, offering ideas and work that is 'safe' - self protectionism. D's believe that pressure = performance.

A person's full discretionary effort is given voluntarily. Thus, to get the most out of people, you don't demand it, you create an environment that needs it, and they will choose to give their best efforts.

Becoming a liberator.

Play fewer chips. Literally, give yourself a budget when contributing to a session, say 5 poker chip. This gives space for others and it increases your own crediblity and presence as leader. For when you do speak, there is more weight and clarity behind it.

Label your opinions. Label soft and hard opinions.

Talk up your mistakes. When you acknowledge personal mistakes, you're setting the norm. Others get the permission to learning, recover with dignity and move quickly onto improving their capability. One suggestion is to get personal about mistakes: tell personal stories about whay you have learned, and how you incorporated them. Share it. Another suggestion is to talk about mistakes in the open, set up a "screw up of the week" moment in your weeklys.

Make a defined space for mistakes. Some spaces it's okay to experiment, other cases not. Draw these lines clearly and people will know when to be more diligent or creative.

Closing thoughts

Supressed and stress people will rebel and try to overthrow the leader.

It's your job to remove tyrants and serve as a liberator. Don't tell people what to think, tell them how and what to think about. Define the challenges for thinking, both for individuals and collectives. Instead of a rebellion, you'll get a movement.