The question kind of sounds like a joke, doesn’t it? A Greek Myth, a Broadway Show, and a Leadership Business Book walk into a bar….And there isn’t a punch line, but there is a twist to it all at the end. Hang in there with me.
Pygmalion is a story, from Greek mythology, of a sculptor (Pygmalion) who makes an ivory statue representing his ideal of womanhood and then falls in love with his own creation. Venus, the Greek goddess of love, brings the statue to life to answer his prayers.
This story inspired many other stories including the play, Pygmalion, by George Bernard Shaw which later became the much more popular musical and then movie, My Fair Lady by Lerner and Loew. Perhaps you have seen the movie on TV. Fun movie.
In My Fair Lady a professor, Henry Higgins, is given a challenge by a peer, who questions Henry’s beliefs in nurture over nature. The challenge is to change Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl, into the toast of high society London. Lots of funny scenes and very memorable songs later, Henry succeeds and subsequently falls in love with Eliza and they marry.
Both Pygmalion and My Fair Lady provided inspiration for a study done by a Professor Rosenthal at Harvard that demonstrated that in the class room, students for whom teachers have high expectations, perform better than students for whom teachers have low expectations. The Pygmalion Effect is something I learned about at the School of Education at the University of Michigan, during my teacher preparations classes. I readily adopted the principle into my teaching and have carried it with me the rest of my career as an executive and coach. The Pygmalion Effect is alive and true in the world today.
What does this have to do with the leadership book Multipliers, by Liz Wiseman? Tons.
A “Multiplier,” a leader whose team delivers double or more performance and engagement that other good managers, leads their team with an underlying belief in their team: that “they are smart enough to figure things out”. Whatever the problem, opportunity, or challenge, this belief in the team produces better results. The “Multiplier” no longer has to solve everything and works mostly to identify the opportunities to work on. Everyone benefits.
High expectations bring better or higher results. Pygmalion and Higgins had high expectations and got great or unexpectedly better results. Multipliers do the same.
The twist? Pygmalion and Henry Higgins fell in love with their creations. With a Multiplier, the team falls in love with their company and their work and in “trust” with their leader.
Isn’t that something you want?
Let’s work together to help you figure out how to be a Multiplier. Let’s talk.Here’s My Calendar