Leadership

Liz Wiseman Webinar Summary – Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter

There are leaders who inspire employees to stretch themselves and succeed beyond all expectation, and there are leaders who sap energy, drain intelligence, and kill the creativity of those around them—which do you want to be? In a recent Fridays With Vistage webinar, Liz Wiseman shared research behind the two leadership styles defined in her Wall Street Journal bestselling book, Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter. Liz is president of The Wiseman Group, a leadership and collective intelligence research center headquartered in Silicon Valley. Liz began by explaining that the critical skill of this century is not what you know, but how quickly you can tap into what other people know. The fundamental role of leaders is no longer knowing and directing, but rather asking and listening—unleashing the capability of everyone around you. There are Diminishers and Multipliers, and it is important to understand the significant effect these types of leaders have on their employees and organizations. Diminishers make people question their own intelligence and capability. Problems don’t get solved and projects don’t move forward, which becomes costly for an organization in more ways than one. Multipliers make people feel smarter and more capable. Employees feel inspired to come up with creative solutions to problems and move business forward. Multipliers create growth. So what are Multipliers doing to inspire all this creative mojo, and what are Diminishers doing to kill it?

  • Multipliers believe that people are smart and will solve problems on their own, while Diminishers believe that people will not be able to solve problems without their help.
  • Multipliers optimize talent, while Diminishers underutilize talent (think: everyone is busy, but everyone is bored).
  • Multipliers give employees space to think and work independently, while Diminishers create stress, which stifles thinking.
  • Multipliers issue challenges, while Diminishers tell people what to do.
  • Multipliers ask for input and debate before making a decision, while Diminishers make decisions on their own and ask for input afterwards, as a sort of fake courtesy.
  • Multipliers instill ownership and accountability in the employee, while Diminishers micromanage and take credit for all successes.
  • Multipliers create a positive energy around them, while Diminishers create a subtle anxiety around them.

Liz pointed out that many people are a little bit Multiplier and a little bit Diminisher; it is rare to find someone who is all one or the other. There is a third kind of leader that Liz introduced to the discussion called, “The Accidental Diminisher.” This is a well-intentioned person who does not realize that he or she is diminishing. Here are six ways in which many of us think we are acting as Multipliers, but actually end up hurting performance:

  1. The Idea Guy”: This person is always coming up with new plans and strategies, offering new ideas on how to do things better. The problem is that people can’t keep up. The constant barrage of suggestions makes employees feel overwhelmed and confused.
  2. Always On”: This person is always engaged, energetic and alert. He thinks his energy is infectious. But when one person’s energy takes up the entire room, what happens to everyone else’s energy? It shrinks.
  3. The Rescuer”: This person doesn’t like to see people struggle, fail or make mistakes. This leader wants to step in and save the day every time there is a problem, but if it’s too early and too often, the employee never grows.
  4. Pacesetter”: This leader makes it a priority to stay far ahead of the group, hoping everyone will follow and work faster to try to catch up. But if the leader gets too far ahead, what actually happens is that people give up, fall back and become spectators.
  5. Rapid Responder”: This leader replies to all inquiries immediately. Emails are cleared out of her inbox within minutes. However, employees should not be expected to do the same. If an employee is asked a question, an appropriate amount of time has to be given for thoughtful response.
  6. Optimist”: This person is certain that all problems will be solved quickly and perfectly because, “Hey, how hard can it be?” But this kind of attitude can actually make employees feel undervalued. When a problem gets solved, it is not because it was easy, but because someone stayed dedicated and determined through the struggle. 

If you are ready to become more of a Multiplier at your company, one way to start is to take the Extreme Question Challenge. Try to lead your next meeting or planning session without giving any directions; you can only ask questions. Asking questions is the first step towards leading a smart organization where people are operating at the top of their intelligence, talent and creativity, and you are not the genius but the genius-maker. This is the way of the Multiplier. **** For more info on Liz Wiseman and Multipliers, please visit her website https://multipliersbook.com/multiplier-assessments/or follow her at Twitter@LizWiseman. You can also join the Multipliers Leadership Network at https://linkd.in/JnWS6V.

Category: Leadership

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About the Author: Vistage Staff

Vistage facilitates confidential peer advisory groups for CEOs and other senior leaders, focusing on solving challenges, accelerating growth and improving business performance. Over 27,000 high-caliber execu

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  1. Steven Adams

    April 19, 2014 at 6:29 am

    Great

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