Be a Multiplier

Liz Wiseman is the author of Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter. She has conducted significant research in the field of leadership and collective intelligence and writes for Harvard Business Review and a variety of other business and leadership journals.

She developed a concept of Diminishers vs. Multipliers. Diminishers acquire talent, but don’t use it. They create stress and focus on getting “buy in” on decisions they have already made. People who work for diminishers often report feeling frustrated, exhausted, and well “stupid”.

Multipliers, on the other hand are talent magnets. They are liberators of the talent they create space to innovate. They see giving space as an exchange for getting the best work from their team. Multipliers spend time getting “weigh in” on decisions rather than getting “buy in”. They also create ownership on projects rather than employees who produce a project. People who worked for multipliers reported feeling exhausted, but invigorated.

Good people don’t leave jobs where they are known. I don’t mean praised at a staff meeting or handed a birthday card with dozens of signatures on it. I mean known. Known for their talent, their uniqueness, the gifts they bring to the table. To be a Multiplier you need to trust your ability to surround yourself with excellent people. If you don’t trust that, it shows. You are a leader who can’t let go, can’t pass the baton, can’t give someone else the spot light. Frankly that’s old-school leadership and you will lose exceptional talent (and burn yourself out).

I know Ms. Wiseman’s work dealt primarily with corporate leadership, but what about personal leadership in our schools, homes, and our families? Do we trust the talent in our children, within our own parents, our friends? Do we seek “buy in” by whining, gossiping, messaging stories we’ve told a million times? Or do we ask for “weigh in”, give space to allow our children to innovate on their own, pass the baton to our spouses and let them have the spot light? It’s thought-provoking to think that in order to lead our lives, we too can be “talent magnets” and with that privilege we must give space, allow “weighing in” on decisions and create ownership.

The new leadership requires you to ask different questions in order to innovate. The first question is,

Are you making the people around you smarter?