Multipliers by Liz Wiseman


Last week I finished another fantastic leadership book Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman to participate in our upcoming management book club discussion in office. In this book, the author explores the roots and applications of effective, inspiring leadership. Leaders can be broadly classified as either Multipliers or Diminishers. A Multiplier creates an environment where each team member is challenged, stretched, passionately engaged, and emerges not only more intelligent for having worked with a Multiplier, but exhilarated at having achieved great things . A Diminisher, as one can imagine, stunts the intellectual growth of those who work for them, drains teams of curiosity and vitality itself. I highly recommend this book to all the leaders.

The author discusses in detail 5 key disciplines of a multiplier leader where they differentiate themselves from diminishers. Those are –

1) Talent Magnet vs Empire Builder – Multipliers are talent magnets who look for diverse talent everywhere, find and unlock people’s native abilities, utilize people to the fullest and remove blockers that hinder people’s growth/success.

2) Liberator vs Tyrant –  Tyrants pounce on those who make mistakes. Liberators learn as much as possible from those mistakes. Talk less, listen more, listen most of the time. Let others share what they know.

3) Challenger vs Know-it-all – Challengers define opportunities that challenge people to go beyond what they know how to do. Know-it-alls give directives that showcase how much they know. Hence a multiplier play the role of a challenger by seeding the opportunity, laying down a challenge and generating belief in what is possible.

4) Debate Maker vs Decision Maker – Diminishers are decision makers. They assume that only a few people are worth listening to. They raise issues, dominate the discussions with their own opinions, and make snap decisions without explaining the rationale. Others in the organization are left feeling confused and left out. Multipliers are debate makers. They bring people together, draw out what they know, and facilitate rigorous debate. They stretch people, depersonalize decisions, and make sound decisions which people own, understand and can execute. As a multiplier, understand the 4 elements of generating a great debate – 

  • Engaging – The question is compelling and important.
  • Comprehensive – The appropriate amount of information is shared for a holistic and collective understanding of the issues.
  • Focused on fact, not opinion.
  • Educational – People leave more focused on what was learned than who won or lost.

To become a Debate Maker use the shared inquiry debate-leading technique:

  • Ask the hard question. Share your own opinions with care.
  • Ask for the data. Participants are required to give evidence to support their theories.
  • Ask each person. Everyone participates; the leader ensures the balance of voices is heard. 

5) Investor vs Micro Manager – Multipliers believe that people are smart and will figure things out. Diminishers believe that people can’t figure things out without them.

The author also concedes that not all diminishers are same, some of them demonstrate it without knowing it. They are accidental diminishers and the infographic below shows some of the ways how they get into this.

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