DIMINISHERS VS. MULTIPLIERS
BY: LIZ WISEMAN,
SPEAKER & AUTHOR
“In other words, leaders who are
Multipliers essentially double the
intellectual power of their workforce at
no incremental cost.”
people be hindered by our honest
attempts to help, teach, or lead by
Here are five signs that you might be
accidentally diminishing your people.
1. YOU SET THE PACE FOR YOUR TEAM.
You believe managers should lead by
example, and you expect others to
follow your lead. But when leaders set
the pace, they are more likely to create
spectators than followers.
2. YOU’VE GOT THE GIFT OF THE GAB.
You are passionate and articulate and
can tak e up a lot of space in a meeting.
You like to think out loud, and you are
always bursting with ideas. But the
enthusiasm you think is infectious
might actually be stifling the thinking
3. YOU’RE A VISIONARY.
You like to think of yourself as a big
thinker, someone who can see the
strategic issues, paint a compelling
picture of the future, and evangelize it
to those around you. Yet, in an attempt
to inspire others, you may actually be
4. YOU’RE A RAPID RESPONDER.
When there are problems or
opportunities, you make timely
decisions that will keep the organization
moving ahead with agility and speed.
But when leaders make rapid decisions,
their people tend to defer to them and
learn to wait for decisions to be handed
down from above.
5. YOU JUMP IN TO RESCUE PEOPLE.
Perhaps you see your people failing and,
in a desire to help, you jump in to rescue
them or the project. In the moment,
jumping in seems to help, but it can
actually diminish people’s capability to
think for themselves and learn how to
spot problems and recover from them.
If one or more of these signals resonate
with you, there is a good chance that
your best intentions might actually be
limiting those around you.
FROM ACCIDENTAL DIMINISHER TO
If becoming an Accidental Diminisher
is, by definition, unintentional, it is
reasonable to believe that one can
change course and begin operating more
like a Multiplier. Here are three simple
but powerful starting points:
1. SHIFT FROM GIVING ANSWERS TO
The best leaders don’t provide all the
answers, they ask the right questions.
Use your knowledge to ask insightful
and challenging questions that cause
people to stop, think, and rethink.
2. DISPENSE YOUR IDEAS IN SMALL
If you are an “idea guy” who is prone
to tossing out more ideas than anyone
can catch, try articulating your ideas
in increments. Introduce fewer ideas
and leave white space. This will create
room for others to contribute, and your
words will be more frequently heard and
therefore more influential.
3. EXPECT COMPLETE WORK.
People learn best when they are fully
accountable and face the consequences
of their work. Instead of jumping in and
fixing the work of others, give it back
and let people know what needs to be
improved or completed. Ask people to go
beyond pointing out problems. Ask them
to find a solution. By wrestling with it
themselves, they’ll grow their capability.
Perhaps the most powerful way to
begin to make the shift to Multiplier
leadership is to start with your
assumptions. When Greg (the manager
mentioned earlier) realized Michael
was underutilized, he changed his
perspective, assuming that Michael both
could and wanted to contribute more.
So, he gave Michael full ownership for
capturing their Brazilian partnership
strategy and ensured he had greater
voice in important meetings. Within just
a couple of weeks, Michael was being
utilized at 80 percent, and Greg began
to see that his most important role was
helping people take their thinking to
the next level.
More than ever, organizations
need intentional leaders who both
understand how they might be
inadvertently diminishing others and
want to become Multipliers, who fully
utilize and amplify the intelligence and
capability of the people around them. +
Liz Wiseman teaches leadership to
executives and emerging leaders around
the world. She is the President of The
Wiseman Group, a leadership research
and development firm headquartered in
Silicon Valley. Some of her recent clients
include: Apple, Disney, eBay/PayPal,
Facebook, GAP, Google, Microsoft, Nike,
Roche, Salesforce.com, and Twitter. Liz
has been listed on the Thinkers50 ranking
and named as one of the top 10 leadership
thinkers in the world and recipient of the
2016 ATD Champion of Talent Award.