4 key leadership learnings from “Multipliers” (by Liz Wiseman)

Multipliers - Liz Wiseman
The premise of Multipliers written by Liz Wiseman, is that any leader can be placed on a spectrum between being a Multiplier (good) and being a Diminisher (bad). (If you’re interested in finding out your style, try this questionnaire.)

What is a Multiplier?

“A leader who uses their smarts to amplify the smarts and capabilities of the people around them”.

What is a Diminisher?

“A leader who drains intelligence, energy and capability from the ones around them and always needs to be the smartest one in the room”.

The book aims to help us move away from a Diminisher style of leadership towards the style of a Multiplier, stating that there is at least a 2x greater return on resources for Multipliers vs Diminishers.

It outlines the 5 different roles that a Multiplier plays:

  1. The Talent Magnet – looks for talent everywhere, finds people’s native genius, utilises people to their fullest, and removes blockers (eg prima donnas)
  2. The Liberator – creates space (to think, speak, and act), demands the best work and generates rapid learning cycles
  3. The Challenger – seeds the opportunity, lays down the challenge, then generates belief in what is possible
  4. The Debate Maker – frames the issue, sparks the debate and drives a sound decision
  5. The Investor – defines ownership, invests resources and holds people accountable

These 5 roles are what the book calls the Multiplier Formula. What makes it a great “how to” book are the chapter summaries of these roles to be used as a quick reference once you’ve finished reading (or if you don’t have time to read the whole thing!).

I dog eared some pages (sorry book lovers) as I read, so I could keep track of the things that really resonated with me.

Here are 4 of them:

1. Ask questions

A Multiplier asks questions constantly. Then listens intently. They listen far more than they speak. I’ve heard this plenty of times before, but it’s great to have it reinforced. (I’m going to start counting my questions in meetings from now on.)

2. Native genius

Multipliers go looking for native genius in everyone around them. I loved this concept! (On page 61, there are 3 steps to help you begin genius watching too). What’s more it really aligns beautifully with what we’re trying to do at Bluewire Media – which is “Do what you love”.

A native genius is something that people do, not only exceptionally well, but absolutely naturally. They do it easily (without extra effort) and freely (without condition)…They get results that are head-and-shoulders above others but they do it without breaking a sweat.

3. “Calmness is not synonymous with softness”

Multipliers remain calm even when under pressure, but are intensely focussed. They create environments that are intense not tense.

4. Make your own mistakes known

There’s a great example in the book of a weekly meeting agenda item called “The Weekly Screw-up”. If you as the leader share your mistakes, then others will be far more willing to share theirs. As a result you’ll breed a culture of transparency where mistakes are not punished but learned from. We’ve just added this to our weekly meeting agenda so I’m looking forward to watching the results.

In summary: This really is a good book in an excellent “How To” format. Plenty of case studies and stories to drive home the points and the chapter summaries will be great quick reference tools.

Have you read it? If so, what did you like about it? What were the things you found most interesting/applicable?

7 thoughts on “4 key leadership learnings from “Multipliers” (by Liz Wiseman)

  1. I scored low on chelelngar through the 360 Assessment tool and was also surprised at this result. If asked I would have perceived myself to be a chelelngar. But when you truly understand how to be a Multiplier Challenger you realize that making people feel uncomfortable is not something we do often. We ask people to do tasks, but they aren’t really that big a stretch. Creating a vacuum for someone else to fill takes thought and trust. First you need to frame the challenge and really make sure it is clear someone is going to feel uncomfortable for a while and clarity will be important. Then you need to trust they will do it! Not hover around and rescue! Something I’ll be working on over the next few months.

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