Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter By Liz Wiseman
A Menlo Innovations Book Review by Mollie Callahan, High-Tech Anthropologist®
Equal parts manifesto and how-to manual for helping people and organizations maximize their potential by cultivating the potential of others, Liz Wiseman’s book, Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, is a timely and impactful read. Drawing on her team’s analysis of over 150 leaders from businesses and nonprofits across multiple industries, Wiseman juxtaposes the characteristics and impact of two different types of leaders: Multipliers and Diminishers. Multipliers actively notice, seek out, and cultivate the talent around them, while Diminishers do the exact opposite: hide and squander talent beneath their own performance. Wiseman argues that “by extracting people’s full potential, Multipliers get twice the capability from people than do Diminishers.” Importantly, the book includes several case studies that subtly articulate the mechanics and business value of being a Multiplier by showing how people and organizations can get more done with less by growing and scaling the intelligence and capability around them.
One of the most revelatory insights contained in the book is that Multiplier and Diminisher qualities are not innate tendencies, but rather a distributed set of beliefs and practices that fall along a continuum. While most of us fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum by default, with deliberate practice a Multiplier disposition can be actively developed and improved. According to Wiseman, the key to becoming a Multiplier is awareness — knowing how Multiplier and Diminisher mindsets and actions differ and recognizing the contextual triggers that draw out these tendencies so that they can be productively controlled.
While specifically aimed at the world of business, the lessons contained in Multipliers are broadly applicable. Parents, for example, can benefit from thinking about how to raise confident and capable children through the application of Multiplier strategies, as much as educators can think about how these strategies can be used to optimize classroom learning and student growth. If you are ready to take your personal leadership to the next level, Multipliers is a great place to start!
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