What Leaders Should Look for When Hiring a Force Multiplier

If you’re new here, let’s first talk about what makes a Force Multiplier. It’s always important to get clear on the “what” before we start looking for the “who”. Force multiplication refers to a factor or a combination of factors that dramatically increases (hence, “multiplies”) the effectiveness of an item or group, giving them the ability to accomplish greater things than without it. We believe that Executive Assistants, Personal Assistants, and Chiefs of Staff are the ultimate examples of force multiplication for entrepreneurs and business owners. (You can download our Force Multiplier Starter Kit here with sample job descriptions for each of those positions.)

Force Multipliers are Leaders

I would argue that all leaders need a Force Multiplier by their side – particularly entrepreneurs, who should make it their first hire. We know it’s one of the most important hires a leader will make. So then, what should leaders look for when hiring a Force Multiplier? Let’s break it down (in no particular order):

  • Professional – I wish this went without saying, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Your strategic partner must be discerning, competent, respectful, gracious, and maintain strict confidentiality. They need to be calm amidst the chaos. They are an extension of you and represent you at all times, so choose wisely. When interviewing, listen to how candidates talk about their former employers. Should you ever part ways, this is how they will talk about you.
  • Driver – Someone who takes initiative and is the catalyst for growth and change is so important for a leader. An “order taker” will not work for high achieving business leaders. You need someone who makes things happen, even if you haven’t asked.
  • Challenges Your Thinking – I know you think you want a “yes-man” or “yes-woman”, but trust me, you don’t. You will have enough of those individuals in your life as you build a team and organization. What you need from your Force Multiplier is a truth-teller. Someone who will say the things that need to be said, even when you don’t want to hear them. This individual will bring new perspectives to the table and force you to consider them from all angles. They will challenge your thinking, piss you off more than once, and have a distinct viewpoint to add to the conversation, all in the effort to help you make better decisions for your life and for the company.
  • Not Afraid to Take Risks or Try New Things – You’re not going to stop pushing forward and testing out ideas, so you need a Force Multiplier who is not afraid to do the same. Yes, they will challenge your thinking if the decision seems reckless, but after you’ve disagreed and committed to a course of action (even if it pushes them outside of their comfort zone) they’re going to do it. Growth is the name of the game. You need to hire someone who is willing and eager to play.
  • Fast-Paced, Intense, Responsive and Adaptable – Most leaders are just as impatient as I am. Couple that with high standards and you can bull-doze over some of the best people. You’re fast-paced and intense. Plus, you’re highly responsive to challenges, the needs of your team, and the changes in your organization and industry. You need a Force Multiplier who can run with you, navigate constantly changing priorities (and when you just change your mind), who has a high sense of urgency and can switch between tasks and projects quickly. That isn’t to say they aren’t also highly efficient, organized, and detail-oriented. Fast and accurate are not mutually exclusive.
  • Strategic Thinker and Creative Problem Solver – Force Multipliers understand how to assess current needs, evaluate all options while taking into account historic data and future goals, and how to ask the right questions to get results. They can tackle a problem from multiple angles, find a solution, and then close the loop.
  • Resourceful – No problem is too big or tasks too small for a Force Multiplier. They will figure it out, make sure it’s handled, and get the job done. Ask for specific examples of how they made the impossible, possible. That will be your first indication of just how resourceful and how far a candidate is willing to go (all legal and ethical, of course!) to get the job done.
  • Exceptional Written and Oral Communication Skills – Your Force Multiplier will often be communicating on your behalf – through memos, emails, social media, meetings, and more. Make sure they can synthesize your ideas and vision, and communicate them to the organization in such a way that inspires action. Pay close attention to how candidates communicate online, as well as how they communicate with you and other team members throughout the hiring process.
  • A Generalist – A powerful Force Multiplier is a jack of all trades. They have a wide array of interests, know a little about a lot, and enjoy researching, reading, and collecting information on many different subjects. A thirst for knowledge and natural curiosity often leaves Force Multipliers lacking expertise in one specific area, but this is actually an advantage. If anything, a Force Multiplier’s “specialty” lies in putting the pieces of a puzzle together with only a partial picture on the box cover to guide them (that inevitably changes halfway through the project) while under a tight deadline. This requires the ability to connect the dots from seemingly disparate information sources. It also requires adaptability, flexibility, and resourcefulness to get things done, all key generalist traits. Dig into what your candidates are reading and learning. A great question to ask is, “What are you curious about right now?” And, of course, pay close attention to the questions they are asking you.
  • Zero Ego – A great Force Multiplier prefers to lead from behind. They are not interested in the accolades or the spotlight. Their success and career satisfaction is derived from making you look great. Humility is paramount in this influential leadership role.
  • Not Offended By the Way You Work – I heard this quote in a mastermind recently and I think it’s a really important one when hiring a Force Multiplier: “Hire people who want to work the way you work, who don’t get offended by the way you work.” This just about sums it up. Your Force Multiplier must remain objective and take the ego out of the equation as much as possible. If you like to work long hours or short, if you like to run hard and fast for 12 weeks, then take two weeks off, if you like to go over every decision in detail and the change your mind 24 hours later, if you like to talk about your weekend or if you don’t – it doesn’t matter. You simply need to align yourself with a Force Multiplier who gets it, gets you, and isn’t offended by how you role.

Quite the tall order, is it not? Do these unicorns actually exist? They do! And they are rare.

Every time someone tells me they need to hire a Force Multiplier, I tell them to get started right away! They may not be hiring for a year or more, but it can sometimes take that long (depending on how much time you are committing to the search). You will want to interview a lot of people to really understand if they meet the characteristics above. Have your candidates take behavior assessments, shadow you for a day or week, and complete mock assignments to gauge their skills. This is an important partnership and you should both do your due diligence.

What else should leaders look for in a Force Multiplier?

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