One of the key responsibilities of any leader is be a force multiplier.
In physics, a force multiplier, such as a lever or wedge, increases the amount of force you can place on an object.
In school terms, a force multiplication refers to a factor or a combination of factors that dramatically multiplies the effectiveness of a system, strategy or group. A leader is only as good as the lift they provide.
They make it their business to do something to improve the effectiveness of an existing resource. This could be making a minor change that has a big difference on morale such as reducing meeting times or as complex as flipping the script and implementing seismic school-wide changes to a behavioural policy.
The school leader is the driver of change and the catalyst for growth. They are learning-based and growth-minded visionary leaders who recruit and retain organisational confidence and buy-in.
Force multipliers organise resources, especially people, to achieve more than they otherwise would without their input. They put people first, connect, build trust and create positive emotional experiences.
They multiply intelligence and capability by asking one simple question: “Are we getting the most out of our staff?”
Force multipliers amplify the intelligence of those around them. They invite and demand people’s best thinking.
What else do force multipliers do?
A ‘Force Multiplier Head’ positions staff in their school to ‘win’ by providing opportunities for them to get better through training, observation, coaching and mentoring. They remove obstacles and help all staff to develop professionally and personally.
Force multipliers challenge the status quo and the way things operate in a school system. They invite new perspectives and encourage a ”fresh eyes’ approach so that a diversity of viewpoints can be heard. They don’t shelter staff from problems but lay down organisational challenges by poking and stoking their intelligence to generate self-belief.
3. Give permission
A force multiplier creates a culture of experimentation where mistake-making and ‘failures’ are seen as a natural part of growth. Staff are given freedom to take risks and try new things without fear of punishment so they can test ideas and push themselves out of comfort zones.
4. Think strategically
Force multipliers assess all options and take account of historic data when planning future goals. They ask difficult questions to get results and creatively approach problems from multiple angles.
5. Unleash potential
The key to being a force multiplier is producing progressive interaction among staff and releasing their known and hidden talents (Jones, 2022). They draw out personal, private and professional gifts that spill into the school. They are talent finders (Wiseman, 2013) and ignite the geniuses in their school.
6. Create alignment
Force multipliers know how to create a school strategy and how to execute it. They multiply commitment, create teams of teachers who can debate well, proactively support each other and are dedicated to the mission and shared objectives. They are community builders helping staff see issues and make decisions.
7. Are resourceful
Force multipliers are imaginative and persistent and work with what they have by optimising their resources creatively. They are open-minded, pragmatic and adaptive when faced with obstacles and they demonstrate a willingness to see things differently.
8. Communicate effectively
Force multipliers know how to adapt their communication style in order build trust, align efforts in the pursuit of a shared vision, and inspire positive change. They are transparent, actively listen, demonstrate empathy, receive and implement feedback.
9. Connect the dots
Force multipliers try to make sense of uncertainty and complexity by looking at the big picture. They have a drone’s eye view of the school and help staff connect the dots by providing context.
10. Park their ego
Force multipliers pull people up not drag them down like their force subtracting counterparts. They don’t seek the limelight but are happy to make their staff look great. They prefer to diffuse drama and cultivate accountability (Wakeman, 2017).
A Head who is a force multiplier creates a multiplier environment which produces its own force multipliers and when this happens then a school can benefit enormously.
The overall effectiveness of a school is massively increased by their presence because they bring out the best in each and every resource they come into contact with.
Force multipliers are intellectually curious and naturally build collective, viral intelligence across the school and inspire others to join them. Diversity is a force multiplier.
They don’t micro-manage their staff but invest in them, make them smarter and instil a sense of shared ownership and accountability.
When schools are led by multipliers, they add value, not some of the time but all of the time, and so create impact in a sustainable way.
As Wiseman (2013) says,
These are the leaders who inspire employees to stretch themselves to deliver results that surpass expectations. These leaders seem to make everyone around them better and more capable.
School ecosystems need force multipliers because they talent spot, cultivate creativity, lift people up and ignite energy.