|I first heard the concept of multipliers from my friend Tim Tassopoulos, the president of Chick-fil-A.
A multiplier is someone who multiplies the business by how they exponentially advance the mission and vision.
For example, on a church staff, a multiplier is someone who can recruit and engage a large number of high-quality volunteers. When this happens, the mission and vision of the church is multiplied through an engaged volunteer work force.
I saw an example of this in the early years of Gwinnett Church. Three years after our launch, we were close to building our first permanent location and shifting from one service on Sunday night to two on Sunday mornings. This move would require us to double the number of volunteers we currently had.
We needed a multiplier to make this happen. Fortunately, Lauren Espy on our team stepped up. She knew that the best place to recruit new volunteers is through your existing volunteers. She created a volunteer recruitment program called Share the Experience. Each volunteer was asked to bring in the name of three friends they would recommend as volunteers for our church. In just a few Sundays, Lauren tripled our volunteer base. That’s what multipliers do. They move things forward.
As I talk to leaders who are trying to find their way forward in this new world, I encourage them to find multipliers. When you find them, unleash them. Give them the resources they need and get out of their way. That’s the easy part, though. The hard part is finding them. It’s why I’m listing five traits to look for in this week’s email. One of the most significant decisions any leader can make to move their organization forward is looking for and finding multipliers.
I believe these five traits will help you find them:
1. Multipliers mobilize momentum.
Look for someone who has a track record of mobilizing people for a cause that’s bigger than them. Look for examples in their past where they have been able to cast a vision so compelling that it mobilized individuals into a team, and then they mobilized the team toward action.
In other words, they can rally people around a cause, short-term or long-term, and in doing so, they generate momentum. And oh, how multipliers love momentum! They are almost addicted to it.
It’s why they’re looking for small, early wins. They can point to a win, no matter how small, and say, “Look over here. We’re on the move. We’ve got momentum!”
It’s very similar to a football team that has momentum. They don’t call a time-out. Instead, they rush up to the line and call a play to keep the momentum going. Multipliers have a track record of mobilizing people and generating momentum. Both are powerful strategies to move the organization forward.
2. Multipliers are more comfortable making mistakes than being passive.
Passivity is the enemy of a multiplier. They know that making mistakes and trying things that don’t work are all part of the journey. And while no one likes to fail or make a mistake, the biggest mistake is settling for the status quo when someone needs to step up and act.
Multipliers know that nothing will get done if nothing is getting done.
During the interview process, ask for a story in their career where they took a risk, even failed perhaps, but it eventually caused them to help move the organization forward. This is a sign of someone who has a greater vision of helping the organization than being protective of their own career. If someone is willing to take a risk that might hurt them in the short-term because they’re trying to help the organization in the long-term, well, they can always work with me. That’s who I want on the team.
3. Multipliers refuse to see obstacles as excuses. They see obstacles as opportunities.
During my time at Chick-fil-A, I noticed a common theme regarding Operators that achieved record sales growth. They chose to no longer listen to the excuses of why it couldn’t be done.
This isn’t a plea to deny reality. It’s a plea to not let reality define you.
I often told the teams I served: Rent a space in the land of reality. Own a space in the land of possibility.
Multipliers certainly see the obstacle. But instead of letting the obstacle remain by listing a variety of excuses, multipliers get out the shovel and start digging a new path.
4. Multipliers enjoy humble beginnings, but they don’t stay there long.
Starting over or starting from scratch requires a lot of energy. It almost always arrives with a set of humbling circumstances.
Multipliers actually enjoy this because they know they are builders. Find someone who has a track record of starting something small and growing it. Sure, anyone can take over something that has already been built and just get into management mode. Multipliers aren’t often great managers.
Instead, look for someone who has started something from scratch, from humble beginnings, and stayed there long enough to learn how to be scrappy — but not too long, lest they get stuck. When you find someone who has built something from humble beginnings, chances are you’ve found a multiplier.
5. Multipliers aren’t afraid to ask, and ask big.
During my time as a pastor, I helped lead three fundraising projects to build three buildings. My first one was the $45 million building for Buckhead Church. My only previous fundraising experience was selling Christmas wrapping paper for my high school basketball team — and I came in dead last all four years.
It took me a while to find my legs as a fundraiser. After all, who among us loves asking for money?
But then I realized a principle that helped me immensely: My responsibility was to make the ask. It was the responsibility of those on the other side of me to provide an answer.
Once I understood what my responsibility was, it freed me up to ask, and ask big. Sure, not everyone said yes. But that’s not the point. I decided to no longer answer for people by not asking them. “Oh, they’ll never give to this project. Why should I even ask?”
Instead, I asked them. Sure, I was awkward at first but the more I asked the better I got. That’s what multipliers do. They don’t talk themselves out of asking big because of the fear of rejection. They keep the vision in mind. It’s why, the next time you’re in Atlanta, drive by Buckhead Church and wave. It’s sitting there debt-free.
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