After almost 20 years in senior management at Oracle, Liz Wiseman left with one nagging question: How do some leaders create intelligence in the people around them, while others diminish it? This inquiry led to the insightful Multipliers – How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter. Co-written with management consultant Greg McKeown, the book provides a well-researched answer to a fundamental leadership question.
There are two fundamentally different types of leaders, the authors suggest in their findings. In the first group are Diminishers, characterized by leaders so intrigued by their own intelligence that they stifle others and their organizations’ capabilities. They tend to believe there are a few really smart people and that people will not figure things out without their leadership. They tend to see the world in black and white.
In the second group are genius makers, or Multipliers. These leaders bring out each person’s unique intelligence and creativity. They see their organization as filled with talented, contributing individuals who are continually developing. The world for them is filled with colors. They see their job as bringing the right people together, stretching individuals and furthering the goals of the organization.
The value of Multipliers is that it shows what these assumptions about people look like in practice and how they are reflected in behavior. How would you approach your job differently if you believed that people were smart and could figure it out? With a Multiplier mindset, people will surprise you. They will give more. You will learn more. What kinds of solutions could we generate if we could access the underutilized brainpower in the world? How much more could we accomplish?
Multipliers get more done by leveraging (using more) of the intelligence and capabilities of the people around them. They respect others. “Multipliers are leaders who look beyond their own genius and focus their energy on extracting and extending the genius of others,” the authors argue. These are not “feel good” leaders. “They are tough and exacting managers who see a lot of capacity in others and want to utilize that potential to the fullest.”
The first step to becoming a Multiplier is to read this outstanding book. Wiseman and McKeown have sought to answer some of the most pressing questions on leadership. Their answers will change your leadership style.