Are You Multiplying Your Team’s Success or Diminishing It?


Adapted from One More Customer by Fran Tarkenton and Scott Miller

As you add to your team, whether with permanent or temporary members, hopefully you’ll add complementary talent to your own: individuals who share your values and work ethic, but add dimension to your company’s abilities. You don’t need eleven quarterbacks to make a winning team; diversity of talent and personality is a great thing.

At the same time, unity of purpose is also important. Companies and teams do best when everyone is pulling in the same direction, toward the same goals and with the same principles driving their effort. Developing a company that is a true team gives immense satisfaction; the interplay of those complementary talents can, indeed, develop the “S-word” (no, not that one—we’re talking about synergy). If you’ve played on a winning team, you know there’s just no substitute for the feeling.

The best companies, tiny or gigantic, have these qualities: common purpose and common values. In fact, nothing will pull a company apart more surely than a divergence of direction or values. Even one person pulling in a separate direction will slow down or even divert the whole operation.

Still, you can’t expect the team, permanent or temporary, to learn your objectives and values on their own. Leadership comes from the top. The best coaches and bosses set the ethical and effort example for their team.

Your own work ethic will help define the work ethic of the rest of the team. Nothing communicates as loudly and clearly as actions. What you do and how you act will lead your people as surely as anything you say. Sure, there are perks that go with being the boss, but the fewer of them you take, the better.

Today’s workplace psychologists separate CEOs and managers into two categories: “diminishers” and “multipliers.” Unfortunately, it seems that there are far more “diminishers.” Those are the bosses who seem to compete with their own team to prove they’re smarter than anybody. They micromanage, meddle, and nitpick. They love to show up one of their employees in front of others. They treat their team like a bunch of idiots. Of course, it’s a self-fulfilling prophesy: that team begins to act “down” to that boss’s expectations; they do begin to act like idiots. A boss’s behavior is absorbed by the team he leads (or fails to lead). A coach who treats his team like a bunch of losers will get a whole lot of losses as a result.

But think of the effect of the CEOs and managers who are “multipliers.” It’s a great word: the idea is that these bosses’ behaviors and communications actually multiply the strength of the people working for them. Their team acts “up” to the CEO or manager’s regard and expectations for them. It’s true in sports, the military, and business. Multiplying your team’s talent, focus, and energy is always the difference. When you have someone in your organization who multiplies the talent and energy of their co-workers, do anything you can to hold and advance that person. The great thing is that multipliers create more multipliers.

Other football coaches often said of the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant of Alabama that “he can beat your team with his team. But then he could also turn around and beat his team with your team.”

That’s the essence of leadership.

You must be able to articulate the meaning of your work and the goals of your team or company. You must be able to lead by communicating your beliefs and your passion for success.

Communicating your customer-focus to your employees is most important of all. It’s always best when your value proposition is communicated “inside–out” from your employees to your customers. They must be walking, talking examples of that value proposition. It’s never enough to hang a great company mission statement on the wall; you’ve got to live it.

Fran Tarkenton

Fran Tarkenton is an entrepreneur and NFL Hall of Famer, and the founder of and Tarkenton Companies. With a passion for small business, he’s started more than 20 businesses during and after his NFL career. Fran is a small business coach for entrepreneurs and business owners, providing advice and guidance through sites such as,, and more. He has written about business issues in the Wall Street Journal, U.S. New and World Report, and USA Today, along with regular appearances on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. You can follow Fran on Twitter @Fran_Tarkenton.