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Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter

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Are you a genius or a genius maker?

We've all had experience with two dramatically different types of leaders. The first type drain intelligence, energy, and capability from the ones around them and always need to be the smartest ones in the room. These are the idea killers, the energy sappers, the diminishers of talent and commitment. On the other side of the spectrum are leaders who use their intelligence to amplify the smarts and capabilities of the people around them. When these leaders walk into a room, lightbulbs go off over people's heads, ideas flow, and problems get solved. These are the leaders who inspire employees to stretch themselves to deliver results that surpass expectations. These are the Multipliers. And the world needs more of them, especially now, when leaders are expected to do more with less.

In this engaging and highly practical book, leadership expert Liz Wiseman and management consultant Greg McKeown explore these two leadership styles, persuasively showing how Multipliers can have a resoundingly positive and profitable effect on organizations—getting more done with fewer resources, developing and attracting talent, and cultivating new ideas and energy to drive organizational change and innovation.

In analyzing data from more than 150 leaders, Wiseman and McKeown have identified five disciplines that distinguish Multipliers from Diminishers. These five disciplines are not based on innate talent; indeed, they are skills and practices that everyone can learn to use, even lifelong and recalcitrant Diminishers. Lively, real-world case studies and practical tips and techniques bring to life each of these principles, showing you how to become a Multiplier too, whether you are a new or an experienced manager. Just imagine what you could accomplish if you could harness all the energy and intelligence around you. Multipliers will show you how.

288 pages, Hardcover

First published June 1, 2010

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About the author

Liz Wiseman

19 books184 followers
Liz Wiseman is an American researcher, speaker, executive advisor, and the author of The New York Times bestseller Multipliers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 989 reviews
Profile Image for C.
1,101 reviews1,047 followers
September 9, 2021
This leadership book explores how to bring out the best work in others. There are a few good points, but overall I found it severely dull. It’s much longer than it needs to be, being filled with examples ad nauseam. There are many better leadership books.

My favorite point was that people’s best thinking must be given, not taken. Much of the book is about creating an environment in which people willingly give their best thinking.

I liked the distinction made between stress and pressure in Chapter 3, “The Liberator”. One feels stress when held to outcomes beyond their control. One feels pressure when reasonably expected to perform their best. Stress is negative, pressure is positive. I also liked Chapter 6, “The Investor”, which tells how to give people ownership rather than micromanaging, which is my tendency.

According to the authors, multipliers believe that people are smart and will figure things out. Personally, I feel that this depends on the people and situation. In any given case, the particular people may not be smart enough, or the situation may not have a feasible solution. However, I understand that the authors were simply contrasting this view with that of the Diminisher: that people can’t figure things out without them.

I read this book for the Business Book Club at Herrick District Library.

Five Disciplines of the Multipler
1. Attract and optimize talent. The Diminisher is an Empire Builder. The Multiplier is a Talent Magnet.
2. Create intensity that requires best thinking. The Diminisher is a Tyrant. The Multiplier is a Liberator.
3. Extend Challenges. The Diminisher is a Know-It-All. The Multiplier is a Challenger.
4. Debate decisions. The Diminisher is a Decision Maker. The Multiplier is a Debate Maker.
5. Instill ownership and accountability. The Diminisher is a Micromanager. The Multiplier is an Investor.

The Multiplier Effect
• Multipliers get an average 1.97 times more capability out of people than Diminishers do. They access 100% of people’s current abilities, plus stretch them to expand their abilities.
• Children praised for hard work do better than those praised for intelligence.
• Logic of Multiplication: Most people in organizations are underutilized. All capability can be leveraged with the right leadership. Therefore, intelligence and capability can be multiplied without increasing investment.

The Talent Magnet
• “Genius comes in many forms.” Appreciate all types.
• Find people’s native genius; something they do exceptionally well and absolutely naturally, easily and freely.

The Liberator
• Talk less, listen more. Listen most of the time. Let others share what they know.

Stress vs. pressure
• Requiring people’s best work is different from insisting on desired outcomes. Stress is created when people are expected to produce outcomes that are beyond their control. But they feel positive pressure when they are held to their best work.
• Analogy: William Tell shooting the apple off his son’s head. “William Tell feels pressure. His son feels stress.”

• Tyrants and Liberators both expect mistakes. Tyrants pounce on those who make them. Liberators learn as much as possible from the mistake.
• People’s best thinking must be given, not taken. Diminishers believe that pressure increases performance. They demand people’s best thinking, but don’t get it.
• “The most powerful work is done in response to an opportunity not in response to a problem.” - Peter Block.
• Provide a starting point, not a complete solution. Allow others to explore opportunities.
• Ask the hard questions, but don’t answer them. Let others fill in the blanks.

The Investor
• Multipliers believe that people are smart and will figure things out. Diminishers believe that people can’t figure things out without them.
• Allow people to learn from the consequences of their actions. Protecting them stunts their learning. Real intelligence develops from trial and error.
Profile Image for Jonathan Lee.
165 reviews8 followers
July 19, 2013
Good grief. This should have been a ten page (at best) pamphlet or research paper. Instead, it was turned into over 200 pages of making the same point ad nauseam. In addition, the personal stories were the most interesting part of the book, but even they got extremely repetitive. After the first five or so stories that illustrated the exact same points, they all tended to blur together. Just read the first and last chapters and save yourself some time.
Profile Image for Daniel.
22 reviews
October 3, 2018
Got 40% through this book and read the appendixes. What a complete horror show.

It consists of hundreds of pages of anecdotal evidence presented as fact. The book boiled down to what sounded like someone has this great thesis and just wrote a book to support the thesis without any sound scientific research.

It suffers from survivorship bias and massive confirmation bias. It also makes massively unfounded deductive leaps. In fact the entire book is unpinned by a flawed deductive leap.

Ask 2 subjective questions

1. How much do you think a multiplier got out of you
2. How much do you think a diminisher got out of you

...and turn that in to some objective value

3. Multipliers will get 2x out of you.


This book is borderline dangerous and terrifies me that people who want to be great leaders aren't critical enough thinkers to see how awful it is (and then rate it highly)!
Profile Image for Mara.
1,559 reviews3,764 followers
January 30, 2019
I think this is a book with a lot of descriptive power... I'm not sure there's a ton of huge revelations, but I really appreciated how this gave me language to talk about the kind of people I like to work for and what it feels like to work for someone who empowers you & helps you progress in your personal & professional development. Well worth a read IMO
Profile Image for Shaw.
32 reviews9 followers
May 28, 2015
I learned so much from Multipliers. This book demands introspection which was painful at times but well worth it. I would consider this book foundational and a companion book for Good to Great and Mindset.
Profile Image for Andrea.
17 reviews
March 17, 2015
I really enjoyed this book and I think that there is a lot to learn from it. The idea is that the best leaders aren’t the smartest people in the room, but strive to make their teams smarter. They do this by asking a lot of questions, owning and talking about their mistakes, trusting that their team members want to do a great job, and requiring the best work possible. The book also talks about different steps to take to work on your multiplying effect.
Profile Image for Ben Rogers.
2,308 reviews143 followers
July 28, 2022
I found this a strong leadership book.

I have been on a little leadership journey lately, so this book was an excellent companion.

I am glad I picked this one up

Would recommend!

Profile Image for Blue.
461 reviews27 followers
April 18, 2018

This book kept repeting the same ideas over and over just slightly differently. The vast majority of that book was that repetition, still defining the terms multiplier/liberator and dimminisher/tyrant - not how to /be/ a multiplier and not a dimminisher but defining the two by example, breaking it down, and repeating. Even a those cycles progressed ever so slightly one could only infer at how to deal with dimminisher boss by guessing from the examples. "This is what multipliers do", not "This is what you can do", and "ask questions without fear" but no how to do so.

^ See what I did, repeating the same thing a few different ways but not adding anything to the original idea? That is what this book was. And still I do it more! The book is more informative, like proposing an idea or study, than something to learn from so if you want a take-away one must infer and extrapolate.

The very last chapter attempts to give some advice but it was just tacked onto the end, not any integral part of the book. With "how" in the title I have no qualms calling the book bad because it focued on the 'what', maybe a different title would have helped.
Profile Image for Brian Yahn.
310 reviews593 followers
July 1, 2018
The premise of this book is pretty simple: Most leaders have good intentions, but some traits we think of as "good" aren't so great for a leader.

For example, if you try to protect your team from failure, you take out the critical learning feedback-loop that comes from failure.

Conversely, other traits that maybe don't seem so great in a friend -- like being challenged / stretched beyond your limit -- are good to have in your leaders. These types of traits not only allow others to grow / multiply, they force it.

But, ultimately, this book suffers the same fate as most self-help books I've read. Basically, the whole book could (and should) be reduced to the first chapter. The first chapter an enlightening, sure. I'd recommend it to others -- but wouldn't recommend reading past the first chapter unless you have an abundance of time...
Profile Image for Terry.
93 reviews1 follower
January 27, 2015
GOD save the Queen!!!!! As a CEO of a non profit, I turn to books like this for a good reminder and sound advice. This book did neither!!! The concept of the book was good, but good lord, you can only polish a terd so many times before you realize it is just a terd! In this book the author takes a great idea and polishes it 340 pages worth, and when you finish the book you realize wow she could have summed that all up in 50 pages and I would be writing a different review right now. You may ask, well why did you not stop reading? I did not stop reading because with each turn of the page I kept hoping it would get better with new insight. Nope!!!!
34 reviews
April 5, 2023
This was a hard read for me because a significant portion of the book focuses not on multiplying leaders but on recognizing your ability to diminish leaders. Those words were difficult to read because of the self-recognition that too often I have been a diminisher and not a multiplier. Content of the book is very good and challenging for any leader who wants to be a better leader, and help the people they lead grow as well.
Profile Image for Phi Unit.
90 reviews13 followers
August 22, 2022
Such an obvious concept: leaders should be multipliers not diminishers, but sometimes managers or new managers fail to understand that.

If you know someone struggling with this simple idea, this is the book for them.

Will reference this book to young managers on my team.
Profile Image for Natalie.
29 reviews
March 23, 2015
There were a log of great take-aways in this book. Love the concept of Genius Watching, as well as the focus on being aware of how a leader can influence others - both for growth and for diminishing... I have been playing with ideas from the book, and have seen a change in meetings I have with my teams.
Profile Image for Victoria Chen.
25 reviews
October 12, 2016
I benefitted from the delineation between the two leadership styles. However, like many other books of this genre, the concepts in this book could've been shortened to a few pages and a table. It got very repetitive and felt like an anecdotal extension of the book "Mindset".
Profile Image for George P..
547 reviews52 followers
May 24, 2017
NOTE: Multipliers is a secular business book. I am reviewing it from the perspective of a Christian minister who thinks its insights have application in church and nonprofit ministry contexts. If those are not your contexts, this review may not be the one you want to read

One of the reasons why leading a church is hard work is the problem of what David Allen calls “new demands, insufficient resources.” For example, youth ministry is vital to the health and future of the church, but we all know how hard it is to get volunteers to work with junior high students. Even Jesus faced this problem: “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” (Matthew 9:37).

The first solution to the problem of new demands and insufficient resources is specific prayer. “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:38). God sees the new demands, but unlike us, He doesn’t lack sufficient resources: “my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

Complementing prayer is a second solution: the right people. Jesus taught us to pray for more “workers.” Paul described the Church as a “body” with variously gifted “parts” (1 Corinthians 12:12–31). The unfortunate fact is that too many pastors and other ministry leaders try to respond to new demands on their own — with only the gifts, talents and resources God has given them personally.  They fail to see the gifts, talents and resources God has given them corporately, in their congregations. The consequence of this failure is burned-out pastors and leaders on the one hand and bored, frustrated and underutilized followers on the other.

Liz Wiseman wrote Multipliers, now out in a revised and updated edition, to figure out how leaders can grow both the intelligence and capability of their organizations. Although she wrote it for a business audience, I couldn’t help but see its relevance to the problem of new demands and insufficient resources in churches too.

Let me try to explain:

Multipliers vs. Diminishers
Wiseman begins the book with this observation: “There is more intelligence inside our organizations than we are using” (emphasis in original). Multiplication taps into this intelligence. Its logic can be understood through three statements:

1. Most people in organizations are underutilized.
2. All capability can be leveraged with the right kind of leadership.
3. Therefore, intelligence and capability can be multiplied without requiring a bigger investment.

As a former staff and senior pastor and a current church member, I agree with the first statement wholeheartedly. Too many people in any given congregation sit in the pew on Sunday morning … but nothing else. They are spiritual consumers, not spiritual producers.

Regarding the third statement, I certainly hope my church can do more without investing in additional staff and buildings. I’d like to see a more productive and efficient use of what we already have before we lay out more money for sparkly new stuff.

The second statement, then, is key: We need “the right kind of leadership.” Wiseman calls these leaders Multipliers and contrasts them with Diminishers. Multipliers tap into the intelligence of their organizations, grow it and increase the capability of their team members and of their organization. Diminishers “shut down the smarts of those around them.” Multipliers begin with the assumption, “People are smart and will figure this out.” Diminishers begin with the assumption, “They will never figure this out without me.”

According to Wiseman, no leader is entirely a Multiplier or entirely a Diminisher. Instead, all leaders perform on a spectrum, with both Multiplier and Diminisher tendencies. This means leaders can move either way on the spectrum.

Two important questions now arise: How do Multipliers lead? And how do I become a Multiplier?

Multiplier Practices

Wiseman’s research indicates that Multipliers lead by engaging in five specific roles:

1. The Talent Magnet: “[T]hey attract and deploy talent to its fullest, regardless of who owns the resource, and people flock to work with them because they know they will grow and be successful.”
2. The Liberator: “Multipliers establish a unique and highly motivating work environment where everyone has permission to think and the space to do their best work.”
3. The Challenger: “They seed opportunities, lay down challenges that stretch the organization, and in doing so, generate belief that it can be done and enthusiasm about the process.”
4. The Debate Maker: “Multipliers engage people in debating the issues up front, which leads to decisions that people understand and can execute efficiently.”
4. The Investor: ��Multipliers deliver and sustain superior results by inculcating high expectations across the organization.”

Now, before you dismiss this as so much business-book gobbledygook, try thinking of Jesus’ leadership in terms of Wiseman’s five roles:

The Talent Magnet: Jesus’s disciples, despite not being religious, political, economic or academic elites, established a religion that is still thriving 2,000 years later.

The Liberator: Jesus empowered His followers to preach the same message as He did, with signs and wonders following (Matthew 10:1–42; Mark 6:6–13; Luke 10:1–24).

The Challenger: Read those three Synoptic Gospel passages cited above, then reminder that Jesus commissioned His followers to do these things in His absence. Not only that, He left the task to “make disciples of all nations” both to His first-century followers and to us (Matthew 18:18). The Great Commission is a perpetual challenge that Christ has called and empowered us to fulfill.

The Debate Maker: We rightly think of Jesus as a master teacher, but we fail to appreciate how often He taught by means of debate. In his book, All the Questions Jesus Asks, Stan Guthrie notes that Jesus asked 295 questions. That number doesn’t even include all the questions Jesus was asked by others.

The Investor: Could any expectation be higher than what Jesus told His disciples in John 20:21: “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you”?

Please don’t misunderstand me. Multipliers is a business book, not a ministry book. It’s written from a secular perspective, not a biblical one. It addresses a specific question in leadership — how to leverage capability through leadership. It is neither the first nor last word on leadership, let alone the first or last word on the pastoral leadership of Christian congregations.

Still, it has incredible diagnostic value because it helps identify the kinds of practices that do (and don’t) make the best use of resources in an organization, including, in my opinion, the local church.

Becoming Multipliers
So, how can pastors and other ministry leaders become Multipliers?

To answer that, we need to depart from Wiseman for a moment and remember the words of Jesus himself, “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:38). Ministry is not about making widgets but about making disciples, and the only person who can make a disciple is one who is himself being discipled. Ministry is spiritual work and requires spiritual growth, which comes first and foremost through a prayerful relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Ministry is also relational, however. And the ministry of leadership requires that we work in relationship with the spiritually gifted people God has placed in our pews. Wiseman offers five pieces of advice to business leaders as they resolve to move from the Diminisher to the Multiplier side of the leadership spectrum, and I’d like to tweak these for ministry settings:

First, start with the assumptions: Do I assume that my congregation is spiritually gifted to do the ministry (Multiplier) or do I assume that I must do it myself or micromanage them in the process (Diminisher)?

Second, work the extremes (neutralize a weakness; top off a strength): Am I surrounding myself with others whose ministry strengths complement my ministry weaknesses? Am I working hard to develop the ministry gifts that I am best at personally?

Third, run an experiment: Am I actively trying to develop new Multiplier habits by identifying my Diminisher tendencies and replacing them with Multiplier assumptions and practices?

Fourth, brace yourself for setbacks: Change always involves a measure of failure. The apostle Peter, for example, was the first (and only) apostle to walk on water, but also the first (and only) apostle to sink after walking on water. If Jesus picked Peter up and got him back on the boat, He can do the same for you.

Fifth, ask a colleague: If “the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’” (1 Corinthians 12:21), then Christian leaders cannot isolate themselves from either their ministry peers or the people they lead. The title of Reuben Welch’s classic book on Christian community gets it exactly right: We Really Do Need Each Other.

So, back to the problem of “new demands, insufficient resources” that I mentioned at the outset of this review. Yes, it is a real problem that pastors and other ministry leaders feel deeply. But prayer to our infinitely resourceful God and wise leadership practices can help us more fully utilize the capabilities of our spiritually gifted congregations. There are, after all, more spiritual gifts in our congregations than we are currently using.

Are you the kind of leader who can multiply them?

Book Reviewed:
Liz Wiseman, Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, rev. ed. (New York: Harper Business, 2017).

P.S. If you found my review helpful, please vote "Yes" on my Amazon.com review page.

P.S.S. This review was written for InfluenceMagazine.com and appears here by permission.
Profile Image for C.W..
135 reviews7 followers
June 17, 2021
This listen kept me company en route to the office in my North Texas hour+ commute prior to covid. Though it’s not full of Marcus Aurelius wisdom, it put me in the mindset of how I wanted to work and work with others (which makes it a great book to me). When I choose pre-work non-fiction, I’m not looking for answers to all the world’s problems but words to put my path in the right direction. It’s a low pressure way to get yourself in the mindset for my busy stressful days in IT.
Recently, I started my previous habits of non-fiction before work and realized I had another chapter or two left here, but I’ll listen to it again and again if needed. Narrator was great!
Profile Image for Helen.
21 reviews
November 24, 2021
Some good points, but the author goes over and over again the same points, a very unimpressive read. The book could have been three times shorter.
Profile Image for Daniel Silvert.
Author 5 books20 followers
July 12, 2011

In Mulipliers, authors Liz Wiseman with Greg McKeown explore the roots and applications of effective, inspiring leadership. For Wiseman, leaders can be broadly classified as either Multipliers or Diminishers. A Multiplier creates an environment where each team member is challenged, stretched, passionately engaged, and emerges not only more intelligent for having worked with a Multiplier, but exhilarated at having achieved great things . A Diminisher, as one can imagine, stunts the intellectual growth of those who work for him or her, drains teams of curiosity, and vitality itself. Indeed, for Wiseman and McKewon, to work for a Diminisher is to essentially watch yourself wither away through micromanagement, dis-engagement, and eventually emerge with a reduced sense of self worth.

The Author’s key question: “What are the vital few differences between intelligence Diminishers and intelligence Multipliers, and what impact do they have on organizations?” The answer, as it turns out covers a lot of ground. Wiseman and McKeown invest the bulk of the book contrasting the practices of Multiplier and Dimishers: Talent Magnet vs Empire Builder, Liberator vs a Tyrant, Challenger vs Know it All, Debate Maker vs Decision Maker, Investor vs a Decision Maker. Each category is explained and illustrated with a mini example from the business world.

This is a very helpful book for any aspiring leader who seeks to model their behaviors after what Wiseman’s research uncovers about the best practices of successful leaders. To those of you who are already experienced leaders, you may find yourself in these pages in ways that challenge your perception of yourself. On Wiseman’s website, one can even take a free survey to test their own Multiplier vs. Diminisher tendencies. I would, however, strongly suggest taking the survey first, then reading the book.
Profile Image for Matt.
Author 1 book65 followers
August 13, 2013

60 pages worth of book that took up 250 pages instead.

This book is the quintessential example of researchers trying to find the X factor for success- and just finding common sense.

It's a worthwhile project - to figure out how to make OTHERS better. How to get the most out of people how to multiply your own work and effort exponentially.

This book does make some great points:

1. You know that "genius" or indispensable person that has the smarts, but drives everyone else nuts and makes everyone else feel like an idiot? He should likely be fired. The benefit of his extraordinary brain is not worth the loss is production and creativity he causes in everyone around him.

2. Leaders fall somewhere on the "Multiplier-Diminisher" spectrum.
Multipliers make everyone want to do better. They make you want to work harder, inspire you and make you excited to go to work. They make you think, listen to your input, and help you really succeed. Then there are the diminishing dictators whom everyone despises, and who never encourage meaningful feedback or criticism or want to hear your ideas for improvement. They know what to do and now they just need you to do A,B, and C. Stop thinking and get back to menial labor.

This book basically teaches you, as a leader, how to identify other's strengths, motives, and drive - and then use it to their fullest potential. To seek meaningful discussion, and not give answers, but seek answers. It teaches you to be such a great leader that when you are gone, others will do just fine without you because they've been trained, allowed to grow, and can think for themselves and succeed.

Like I said - the ideas are worthwhile, but 40 examples of the same principle just seems ridiculously redundant and annoying. So while this book may be good, it bogs itself down and is not really worth finishing.

Profile Image for Judge Soler.
30 reviews1 follower
March 5, 2023
I started reading this book as we talk a lot about the "Multiplier Effect" in my current workplace. I have seen this in action and was curious about the nuts and bolts behind this behavior. While the answer seems obvious enough, I have been in enough workplaces to know that sometimes the obvious needs to be said and repeated for it to stick.

The other reviews here mention how majority of the content of the book can be narrowed down and they're not wrong - I found myself skipping some examples (sometimes whole sections) as the point has already been made. However, I do acknowledge how, for some audiences, the examples do help explain the point further especially if one is a "recovering Accidental Diminisher."

The final chapter and worksheets are practical enough - just enough to be able to implement them as you'd like. I do think this book was meant more to be a workbook than anything else. In any case, I think the concept is still quite relevant.
Profile Image for Amanda.
43 reviews
March 30, 2015
I really loved this book because it was very inspiring in the fact that it encourages people in the place of leadership to provide a positive atmosphere for their teams. Leaders building up their teams to get better results for the individuals and for the company. Promoting praise where it's due, so that the employees feel appreciated, and addressing some issues that can be worked on for improvement as opposed to the "diminisher" who makes the team members feel like they're not doing a good enough job, or doing the job wrong. I really recommend that any person that is a leader, or just any person, read this book. It's now on my top favorite's list.
Profile Image for Nadya Ichinomiya.
139 reviews15 followers
January 23, 2020
The most ACTIONABLE book on Servant Leadership I've read!

The 5 Disciplines of Multipliers framework is easy to understand, and because it contrasts these disciplines with the 5 anti-patterns (Diminishers) - its allows for a clarity to rapidly emerge.

This framework and the concept of an "Accidental Diminsher," - makes the framework relatable and authentic, dismantling ego needs or face-saving.

I loved the ideas in this book, in particular the Poker Chips speaking limitation, the listening ratio, and the Extreme Questions Challenge.

HIGHLY recommend to anyone who has direct reports or who works in a matrix organization where influencing without authority is common.
Profile Image for Alissa Thorne.
302 reviews26 followers
February 27, 2018
Some good information could be dug out of this book, but I found the format quite unpleasant. It's filled with self-important charts and Unnecessarily Capitalized Lingo. Using personal experience to demonstrate a point is a good trick, but it would be nice if there was more than a sentence or two of the point itself between all the stories. And frankly, many of the "Diminishers" seemed like flat-out assholes--not sure why you need a whole book to say, "Don't be an asshole."
Profile Image for Amanda Paulin.
14 reviews5 followers
September 2, 2015
I loved this book and took many lessons from it. One of the biggest is that I need to work on multiplying the skills and assets of my team, instead of diminishing them. I cannot keep all of the knowledge I have in my mind or else we will not grow great and powerful leaders. This is a must read for anyone embarking on any leadership role, be it at work or in their personal lives.
Profile Image for Dave.
524 reviews13 followers
March 18, 2016
About par for the leadership book course. Important idea dragged out about 200 pages longer than necessary. But still an important idea.
Profile Image for Meg.
347 reviews3 followers
August 15, 2019
Overly simplistic, not revolutionary. Doesn't provide much actionable advice. Get a summary from a friend, skip the book.
Profile Image for Heather.
981 reviews7 followers
February 23, 2017
This is really a good book that motivates and teaches us how to be better and help others be better and accomplish more while we each learn and grow. Organizations and individuals have been challenged recently to do more with less. This book points out that we should all be doing that anyway. Instead of just throwing resources at a problem we should be leveraging them better. The best leaders are "Multipliers." They help everyone around them grow, learn, work harder, accomplish more, and come to better decisions. They do this by employing five main roles: Talent Magnet, Liberator, Challenger, Debate Maker, and Investor. Multipliers recognize individuals' particular talents and genius and let them work, they give space and ownership for individuals to work, they present a problem and a challenge, but they don't micromanage, they ask questions, have a high standard or hold people accountable.

For me this book is about potential and developing people and organizations. It's about seeing what people can become and helping them see how they can get there. It's thinking bigger, collaborating, working together, and solving problems. There are lots of exciting principles to take from this book. Here are a few of my favorite thoughts:

"Get more out of people than they knew they had to give (p. ix)."

"The ability to extract and multiply the intelligence that already exists in the organization is red-hot relevant (p. x)."

"A key insight was that Multipliers are hard-edged managers. There is nothing soft about these leaders. They expect great things from their people and drive them to achieve extraordinary results. Another insight that resonated with me was that people actually get smarter and more capable around Multipliers. That is, people don't just feel smarter; they actually become smarter. They can solve harder problems, adapt more quickly, and take more intelligent action (p. xi)."

"Some leaders make us better and smarter. They bring out our intelligence (p. 4)."

"Some leaders seemed to drain intelligence and capability out of the people around them. Their focus on their own intelligence and their resolve to be the smartest person in the room had a diminishing effect on everyone else. For them to look smart, other people had to end up looking dumb (p. 5)."

"George grew people's intelligence by engaging it. He wasn't the center of attention and didn't worry about how smart he looked. What George worried about was extracting the smarts and maximum effort from each member of his team (p. 9)."

"Multipliers are genius makers. Everyone around them gets smarter and more capable. People may not become geniuses in a traditional sense, but Multipliers invoke each person's unique intelligence and create an atmosphere of genius--innovation, productive effort, and collective intelligence (p. 10)."

"The logic of addition creates a scenario in which people become both overworked and underutilized. To argue for allocation without giving attention to resource leverage is an expensive corporate norm (p. 14)."

"In addition to assuming intelligence is a scarce commodity, Diminishers see intelligence as static, meaning it doesn't change over time or circumstance (p. 19)."

"Instead of writing people off as not worth her time, she is able to ask, What could be done to develop and grow these capabilities? She then finds an assignment that both stretches the individual and furthers the interests of the organization (p. 20)."

"Multipliers lead people by operating as Talent Magnets, whereby they attract and deploy talent to its fullest regardless of who owns the resource. People flock to work with them directly or otherwise because they know they will grow and be successful. In contrast, Diminishers operate as Empire Builders, insisting that they must own and control resources to be more productive (p. 21)."

"[Multipliers] hold people accountable for their commitments. Over time, Multipliers' high expectations turn into an unrelenting presence, driving people to hold themselves and each other accountable, often to higher standards and without the direct intervention of the Multiplier (p. 23)."

"'I not only use all the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow (Woodrow Wilson, p. 33).'"

"'What is the next challenge for you? What would be a stretch assignment.... What is getting in the way of your being successful (Mitt Romney, p. 34)?'"

"Empire Builders hoard resources and underutilize talent. Talent Magnets attract talented people and use them at their highest point of contribution (p. 41)."

"Talent Magnets: (1) look for talent everywhere; (2) find people's native genius; (3) utilize people at their fullest; and (4) remove the blockers (p. 43)."

"He communicates this respect for the intelligence of others through his actions. He readily admits that he doesn't think like they do and that he appreciates what they bring to the table. He listens intently to the ideas and advice of those who offer this perspective he doesn't have. And he asks people to teach him what he doesn't know (p. 45)."

"What my colleagues were teaching me was that I had a native ability--something that I did both easily and freely (p. 47)."

"He was in genius-watching mode and he couldn't help but see it everywhere--even in the efforts of a mother with an inconsolable child and a plane full of aggravated passengers. Here are the three steps to help you begin genius watching: (1) Identify it.... (2) Test it.... (3) Work it (p. 60)."

"She could see that her strong ideas were hampering the creativity and capability of her people (p. 67)."

"'He is very good at disarming you. He is a commoner--one of us. Even if you work three levels below him, he still wants to know what you think (p. 70).'"

"The Liberator creates an environment where good things happen. They create the conditions where intelligence is engaged, grown, and transformed into concrete successes (p. 72)."

"'In his class, he doesn't tolerate laziness. You're always working, thinking things over, and seeing your mistakes so you can learn from them (p. 75).'"

"I give you space; you give me back your best work. Liberators also give people space to make mistakes. They create an environment of learning, but they expect people to learn from the mistakes (p. 77)."

"Liberators are more than just good listeners. They are ferocious listeners. They listen to feed their hunger for knowledge. They listen to learn what other people know and add it to their own reservoir of knowledge (p. 79)."

"Larry asked one question, 'Did you give your best (p. 83)?'"

"Requiring people's best work is different from insisting on desired outcomes. Stress is created when people are expected to produce outcomes that are beyond their control. But they feel positive pressure when they are held to their best work (p. 83)."

"People's best thinking must be given, not taken. A manager may be able to insist on certain levels of productivity and output, but someone's full effort, including their truly discretionary effort, must be given voluntarily. This changes the leader's role profoundly. Instead of demanding the best work directly, they create an environment where it not only can be offered, but where it is deeply needed. Because the environment naturally requires it, a person freely bestows their best thinking and work. Multipliers not only get full brainpower from their team, they grow capability rapidly (p. 89)."

"Liberators....create space...demand best work...generate rapid learning cycles (p. 95)."

"Shai issued the challenge to the team and began asking the difficult questions: 'How can we change a battery in five minutes?...and how can we make it user-friendly?...and location-independent?...and car-independent?...and cheap so it can be scalable?' He turned the problem over to the team and gave them two months (p. 98)."

"Instead of knowing the answer, they play the role of the Challenger (p. 103)."

"Multipliers understand that people grow through challenge. They understand that intelligence grows by being stretched and tested. So even if the leader has a clear vision of the direction, he or she doesn't just give it to people. Multipliers don't just give answers. They provide just enough information to provoke thinking and to help people discover and see the opportunity for themselves. They begin a process of discovery (p. 107)."

"Multipliers provide a starting point, but not a complete solution. By offering a starting point, they generate more questions than answers (p. 111)."

"Extend a clear and concrete challenge....ask the really hard questions....shift the burden of the thinking to others (p. 113)."

"Diminishers consider themselves thought leaders and readily share their knowledge; however, they rarely share it in a way that invites contribution. They tend to sell their ideas rather than learning what others know (p. 121)."

"'Liz, I have a challenge for you. Tonight when you go home, I want you to only speak to your children in the form of questions. No orders. No statements. Just questions (p. 127).'"

"'If you have a task to perform and are vitally interested in it, excited and challenged by it, then you will exert maximum energy. But in the excitement, the pain of fatigue dissipates, and the exuberance of what you hope to achieve overcomes the weariness (Jimmy Carter, p. 129).'"

"The Challenger seeds the opportunity....lays down a challenge....generates belief in what is possible (p. 130)."

"How leaders make decisions is profoundly influenced by how they engage and leverage the resources around them. Our research has shown that Diminishers tend to make decisions solo or with a small inner circle. As a result, they not only underutilize the intelligence around them, but they also leave the organization spinning instead of executing (p. 133)."

"Multipliers...don't focus on what they know but on how to know what others know. They seem to assume that with enough minds we can figure it out. They are interested in every relevant insight people can offer.... When Multipliers are faced with a high-stakes decision, they have a different gravity pull toward the full brainpower of their organization. In harnessing this knowledge, they play the role of the Debate Maker. They realize that not all decisions need collective input and debate, but on decisions of consequence, they lead rigorous debate that prosecutes the issues with hard facts and depersonalizes decisions. Through debate, they challenge and stretch what people know, thus making the organization smarter over time and creating the organizational will to execute the decisions made (p. 136)."

"Multipliers identify the decision-critical date that needs to be gathered and analyzed prior to the debate. They ask others to come to debate armed with relevant information so they are prepared to contribute (p. 143)."

"Multipliers spark debate (p. 145)."

"There are two key elements that couple and form the yin and the yang of great debate. The first is to create safety. The second is to demand rigor. Multipliers do both.... They ask the questions that challenge conventional thinking. They ask the questions that unearth the assumptions that are holding the organization back. They ask the questions that cause the team to think harder and to dig deeper (p. 146)."

"Multipliers may relish a great debate, but they pursue debate with a clear end: a sound decision (p. 149)."

"Although Multipliers know how to generate and leverage collective thinking, they are not necessarily consensus-oriented leaders. At times, they may seek the full consensus of the group; however, our research shows that they are equally comfortable making the final decision (p. 150)."

"The discussion leader only asks questions (p. 155)."

"'Freedom is hammered out on the anvil of discussion, dissent, and debate (Hubert H. Humphrey, p. 157).'"

"The Debate Maker frames the issue...sparks the debate...and drives a sound decision (p. 158)."

"'You can jump in and teach and coach, but then you have to give the pen back. When you give that pen back, your people know they are still in charge (p. 160).'"

"Multipliers invest in the success of others. They may jump in to teach and share their ideas, but they always return to accountability (p. 161)."

"When people are given ownership for only a piece of something larger, they tend to optimize that portion, limiting their thinking to this immediate domain. When people are given ownership for the whole, they stretch their thinking and challenge themselves to go beyond their scope (p. 170)."

"'Don't give me an A-W-K without an F-I-X (p. 179)!'"

"When the scoreboard is visible, people hold themselves accountable (p. 180)."

"I became irritated at my team dumping the problems on me and for not doing their jobs. Then...I had an epiphany: I wasn't doing my job. As a manager, my job was no longer about me. It was my responsibility to manage the work, not do the work. I had been solving problems like some overzealous superhero, when I was really supposed to help other people solve problems. My job was to flow the work to my team and keep it there (p. 184)."

"Micromanagers don't use the full complement of talent, intelligence, and resourcefulness that is available to them. This capacity sits idle in their organizations. To counteract this, they continue to ask the organization for more resources, wondering why people aren't more productive and are always letting them down (p. 186)."

"Nature teaches best. When we let nature take its course and allow people to experience the natural consequences of their actions, they learn most rapidly and most profoundly. When we protect people from experiencing the natural ramifications of their actions, we stunt their learning. Real intelligence gets developed through experimentation and by trial and error (p. 189)."

"The Investor defines ownership....invests resources....holds people accountable (p. 193)."

"Having one towering strength almost doubled the effectiveness of the leader, provided the leader had no area of sharp weakness (p. 204)."

"Neutralize a weakness....Top off a strength (p. 206)."

"A leader begins with a simple assumption and a singular idea, that people are smart and the job of the leader is to draw out the intelligence of others. With this simple idea, leaders might begin by restraining themselves more and listening to others. They then might start asking more questions. They become skilled in the art of asking the right questions and begin posing the most difficult questions that challenge the underlying assumptions of the organization. They then use these questions to seed and establish challenges for the organization. Next they bring this sense of challenge and inquiry into key decisions and become masterful Debate Makers. Like instruments in Bolero, by adding these skills a layer at a time, they achieve mastery and have a powerful effect on others (p. 215)."

"Momentum can build quickly. Mastery takes time (p. 216)."

"Each year, he carries with him a question that challenges his thinking and sparks learning.... I adopted an intriguing question myself: How is what I know getting in the way of what I don't know? By simply asking this question, I was compelled to venture beyond the realm of my own understanding. Holding this question for a year (actually, I'm still working on it) and asking it in numerous settings has helped me transcend the limitations of my own knowledge and find ways to better see and access the intelligence of others (p. 216)."

"'The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them (Albert Einstein, p. 219).'"
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