Multipliers – The Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter

multipliers, leadership, leaders, diminishers, geniusBe it at home or in the workplace, we are put in leadership positions all the time. What kind of leader are you? Are you a person others line up to follow or a leader to be avoided? Multipliers – How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter”, by Liz Wiseman, explores the leadership qualities that bring out the greatness, not in us, but in others.  These principles tap into the collective intelligence of groups to produce better results and better employees. The key is the willingness to take a chance and invest in other people.

What is a Diminisher?


Before we examine the qualities of a Multiplier, we need to understand another type of leader, the Diminisher. Diminishers are often intelligent leaders, but believe their genius is rare creating the illusion to them that they are the only ones capable of creating good ideas and successfully running a business. In their minds they are by far the smartest in the room, which stops them from allowing others to share ideas, think, or contribute to a project. They are constant micromanagers because they like to keep all the control to themselves and feel that if they don’t do it, the job won’t be done correctly. When people do take initiative without the permission of a Diminisher, their efforts and even positive results are scorned. As the pattern continues effort by others declines and people become submissive waiting for direction at every turn because it is easier and less risky than making decisions for themselves.

The Diminisher motto – “They can’t do this without me.”


What are Multipliers?


A Multiplier is a genius maker. They earn this title by making everyone around them smarter. They provide people the room to grow by identifying their strengths and applying these strengths to a task. Wiseman’s statistics found Diminishers received 20 to 50 percent of the capability of their people, multipliers ranged from 70 to 100 percent. This is 2x the results, displaying the multiplier effect.  Wiseman views leadership as a spectrum between Multipliers and Diminishers, with most leaders somewhere in the middle. Everyone possesses some of the qualities of each style and moves up and down this line depending on the situation.


I’m not a leader how will this help me?


Are you sure you are not a leader?  Are you a father, a mother, a brother, a daughter, a friend, a lover? Many times we are called upon to act as leaders, even if it is in our own homes. The strategies provided will also assist those needing a little push to be a leader. These ideas and principles can be applied to the boardroom, but also to everyday life. You do not need to be a CEO or a manager to be a multiplier.


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The Five Disciplines of Multipliers


The Talent Magnet.


Multipliers are magnets attracting high quality talent because people want to work for a boss who gives them space to learn and grow. Diminishers build empires of talent that they control with the intention of being productive, but squander these resources by micromanaging. The first key to being a talent magnet is to look for talent everywhere. Understand there are many different types of genius and talents, make one of yours noticing these qualities in other people. This includes finding people’s natural strengths. A natural strength is an ability people do with ease, with skill, and without any effort. These can be as simple as the ability to run a meeting effectively to as specialized as blue print drawing. Discover their natural genius and then task accordingly to these strengths. Utilize people to their full potential, by offering them challenging assignments and tasks. There is no reason to find the smartest, hardest working people only to restrain them with mundane and simple work. Finally, remove the blockers. Blockers are like a virus, they bring others down through bad attitude, low effort, and by planting the seeds of discontent.

Everyone has unique skills – learn how to identify them, test them, and apply them.



Create Intensity that Requires Best Thinking


Multipliers create a highly motivating work environment where people are required and allowed to think for themselves. Wiseman describes this positive work environment as both comfortable and intense, an area where fear is lifted and creative thinking is encouraged. Diminishers act as tyrants, inducing a fear of judgement on their subjects that inhibits people’s ability to think and function.  This pressure creates a negative environment stopping subordinates from taking any risks or even contributing ideas. People will hold back around Diminishers because they are afraid of the repercussions of suggesting ideas that may disagree with the tyrant’s thinking. Liberate the restraints on your staff by allowing them the room and opportunity to think, speak, and act. Create space for your workforce to step up and find the balance between comfort and pressure, while still insisting on their best work. Multipliers allow people the permission to make mistakes. Mistakes are part of learning and allow the opportunity for improvement. Provide praise, encouragement, feedback that can be applied and worked on. Include positive and negative points so subordinates know what to keep doing and what to develop.


Pressure Does Not Increase Performance.


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Initiate Challenges


Multipliers challenge their workforce by giving them opportunities to rise to the occasion. Set huge goals with short timelines, but encourage others with enthusiasm that despite the odds they are achievable. Set forth toward these goals with challenge, daring your team to strive for the impossible. Wiseman says, “Multipliers generate a belief – the belief that the impossible is actually possible”.  Diminishers separate themselves as experts, taking control of ideas and giving the direction to showcase their knowledge.

How do you become a challenger? Start with your own curiosity and imagination of what is possible. Ask lots of questions! You cannot find answers without reflective questions. Finally multipliers, take action now. The best plan has no chance of coming to fruition if the first step is never taken.


Become a Master of Debate


Multipliers use collective knowledge to debate ideas and come up with the best solutions. Ideas are not based on the rank of those that made them; instead they are based on creativity and best outcomes. By incorporating teams into the idea process they get to see the issue from a variety of perspectives, understand the issue and solution, and can see the big picture. This understanding creates a plan and action people will be more invested in. Diminishers make decisions alone or with their small inner circle. They leave the remainder of the organization in the dark of why a decision was made and give direct instructions how to accomplish it without explanation of why.

To become a Debate Maker start with defining the right questions and selecting the proper team. Great debate is a skill. Practice this skill with your team by keeping the experience engaging, comprehensive, and educational. Have people argue a point and then switch positions to debate what they were just arguing. Turn it into a game. Finally, always be sure to find a sound solution. People want to know what they are doing has purpose. Debating a valuable solution that is then applied provides workers with a feeling of purpose and contribution.


A Multiplier asks the Hard questions to discover the Right answers.


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Instill Ownership and Accountability


Multipliers create great results by expecting great results across the line. They invest in their employees knowing the new skills their people learn and utilize, will in turn be reinvested into the team.  They hold their staff publically accountable for their actions and results creating ownership for the results. Diminishers act as micromanagers driving results by keeping the ownership and directing every detail. Investing in our people means not swooping in and solving problems for them. This takes away our time and their ability to solve the problem themselves and to learn from it. It will also become a pattern. Stopping subordinates from learning the consequences of their actions only sets them up to make the same mistake again because you might not always be watching over their shoulder. Accountability can be achieved by giving people charge of their responsibilities. They own the tasks assigned to them and with that ownership comes responsibility. Inform them they will be accountable for both the positive and negative outcomes, and then be consistent with either the rewards or punishment.



What does being a multiplier do for you?


You may have noticed that many of these points are about developing the talents of others. How does this help you? By enhancing your people’s ability to work on their own not only improves their work and output, remember 2X, but will also free up your time. How much of your day is spent solving other’s problems?



How Do You Become a Multiplier?


The first step to develop is a critical eye of your own actions to find where you are on the Multiplier/Diminisher spectrum. Be honest with yourself. Where do you fall? How do you move along the spectrum in different situations? Ask your colleagues, family, friend, and subordinates, but fish around for the answers because they might not be a hundred percent honest with you (especially if you have some Diminisher qualities).

Realize applying these principals is work, which can be difficult as many of us are already overworked. Remember the statistics – improving output 2X! Despite your business or situation creating 2x the output of those around you is worth the investment. As your skills improve, using these strategies will become second nature and applying them will be no work at all. The good news is some strategies are less work for you. For instance by investing in other people, you give them room to do their job; therefore all you need to do is delegate and hang back, which is your job anyway. Actively work toward becoming a multiplier by using the information provided and following the advice. Better yet, set a challenge for yourself.



The 30 Day Multiplier Challenge:


Another reason this book is great is that Wiseman sets out a challenge for her readers. In this challenge Wiseman suggests focusing on a single discipline for thirty days. Don’t try to change everything at once. The best option is to choose either your best discipline, becoming a superstar in this area, or to choose your lowest area to raise your weakness. After the thirty days start working on the other option, then applying a new discipline every thirty says, while still maintaining the last ones.

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Good Luck and let me know you’re results.



Note – I have only touched the surface of the great ideas and strategies of this book. I highly recommend you get your own copy of Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter. Well worth the read.


“Office Leader Image” courtesy of Ambro/
“Handshake Image” courtesy of PinkBlue/
“Seperate From the Crowd” courtesy of imagerymajestic /
“Teamwork Circle” courtesy of hin55/
“Office Group – Talent Magnet” courtesy of Ambro/

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