Book Summary — Multipliers

How the best leaders make everyone smarter.

Michael Batko
Published in
24 min readJun 26, 2022


You can find all my book summaries — here.

1 paragraph summary:

Eye opening for any manager! This is now my go-to book to review every quarter to revisit what I can do better as a leader. Especially the Accidental Diminisher section is mind-blowing by how simple it is to overstep your boundary as a leader.


This book began with a simple observation: There is more intelligence inside our organizations than we are using.

The 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. They can solve harder problems, adapt more quickly, and take more intelligent decisions.

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.

Are you a genius, or are you a genius maker?

Multipliers are genius makers. What we mean by that is that they make everyone around them smarter and more capable. Multipliers invoke each person’s unique intelligence and create an atmosphere of genius — innovation, productive effort, and collective intelligence.

Multipliers get more from their people because they are leaders who look beyond their own genius and focus their energy on extracting and extending the genius of others.

Here is the logic behind multiplication:

  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.

In addition to seeing intelligence as a scarce commodity, our research showed that Diminishers regard intelligence as something basic about a person that can’t change much; they believe it is static.

Multipliers see intelligence as continually developing. This observation is consistent with what Dweck calls a “growth mindset,” a belief that basic qualities like intelligence and ability can be cultivated through effort. They assume that people are smart and will figure it out.

The Diminisher is an Empire Builder who acquires resources and then wastes them.

The Multiplier is a Talent Magnet who utilizes and increases everyone’s genius.

  • Multipliers operate as Liberators, which produces a climate that is both comfortable and intense. They are able to remove fear and create the safety that invites people to do their best thinking. At the same time, they are creating an intense environment that demands people’s best efforts.
  • The Diminisher is a Tyrant who creates a stressful environment.
  • The Multiplier is a Challenger who defines opportunities.
  • The Diminisher is a Know-It-All who gives directives.
  • Multipliers are Debate Makers who generate real buy-in.
  • Diminishers are Decision Makers who try to sell their decisions to others.
  • The Multiplier is an Investor who gives others ownership and full accountability.
  • The Diminisher is a Micromanager who jumps in and out.
  • Empire Builders take credit.
  • Talent Magnets give credit.

It’s not that these Multipliers shrink so that others can be big. It’s that they play in a way that invites others to play big, too.

Multipliers aren’t necessarily comedians, but they don’t take themselves or situations too seriously. Perhaps because they don’t need to defend their own intelligence, Multipliers can laugh at themselves and see comedy in error and in life’s foibles, and their sense of humor has a liberating effect on others.

Multipliers call out others’ genius.

“Fish discover water last.” But if people aren’t aware of their genius, they are not in a position to deliberately utilize it. By telling people what you see, you can raise their awareness and confidence, allowing them to provide their capability more fully.

Multipliers trust their people.

“Yes, there will be a few times when I get agitated because I would have done it differently, but I’ll get over it. I’d rather you trust your judgment, keep moving, and get the job done.”

NAME THE GENIUS — Kick-start this cycle by tapping into someone’s native genius and unlocking hidden reserves of discretionary effort.

SUPERSIZE IT — Try sizing someone’s job the way you shop for shoes for a young child. How does the wise parent decide what size to buy? They start by measuring the child’s foot, and then they buy a pair that’s a size too big. And how does the parent respond when their child tries on those shoes, awkwardly parading down the store aisle, complaining that the shoes feel weird and too big and that their feet are flopping around in them? The parent reassures them, “Don’t worry, you’ll grow into them.”

LET GO OF SUPERSTARS — While most managers try to retain their top players, the best leaders know when it’s time to let them go. They recognize when a superstar has outgrown his or her environment.

The Liberator

Michael began to realize that when you become the leader, the center of gravity is no longer yourself. He had a mentor who taught him that the leader’s job is to put other people onstage.

When offering his opinion, he distinguishes “hard opinions” from “soft opinions.” Soft opinions signal to his team: Here are some ideas for you to consider in your own thinking. Hard opinions are reserved for times when he holds a very strong view.

It is a just exchange: I give you space; you give me back your best work.

I give you permission to make mistakes; you have an obligation to learn from the mistakes and not repeat them.

The 3 Practices of Liberators

1. Create space

They deliberately carve out space for others to be able to make a contribution.

It is a small victory to create space for others to contribute. It is a huge victory to maintain that space and resist the temptation to jump back in and consume it yourself.

Liberators are more than just good listeners; they are ferocious listeners. They listen to feed their hunger for knowledge, to learn what other people know and add it to their own reservoir of knowledge.

“How smart you are is defined by how clearly you can see the intellect of others.” They listen intently because they are trying to learn and understand what other people know.

“Wisdom doesn’t just come from the top; it comes from all across the organization. But, as a leader, you have to do more than just not discourage it, you need to actively encourage people to speak up. The leader has to ask questions and invite the most junior people to express their ideas.”

2. Demand people’s best work

“Is this your best work?” The chief thought for a moment and, worried that his boss would think the report was not good enough, responded, “Mr. Kissinger, I think I can do better.”

As a manager you know when someone is below his or her usual performance. What is harder to know is whether people are giving everything they have. Asking whether people are offering their best gives them the opportunity to push themselves beyond previous limits.

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.

You have to separate the experiment from the outcome. I have zero tolerance if someone does not run the experiment. But I don’t hold them accountable for the outcome of the experiment. I only hold them accountable to execute.”

He cites the famous image of William Tell shooting an apple off his son’s head: “In this scenario, William Tell feels pressure. His son feels stress.” K. R. keeps the pressure on his team to act, but doesn’t create stress by holding them accountable for outcomes beyond their control.

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.

3. Generate Rapid Learning Cycles

Lutz does not hide his own mistakes or divert them to his staff, he confesses them shamelessly. He loves to tell stories, and his favorites are about his mistakes. When he launched an unsuccessful product, he talked about it openly and what he learned from it. One member of his management team said, “He brings an intellectual curiosity for why things didn’t work out.” By taking his mistakes public, he made it safe for others to take risks and fail.

Becoming a Liberator

1. Play fewer chips

I gave him five poker chips, each worth a number of seconds of talk time. One was worth 120 seconds, the next three worth 90 seconds, and one was worth just 30.

He created abundant space for others. Instead of being Matthew’s strategy session, it became a forum for a diverse group to voice ideas and cocreate the strategy. 2) Matthew increased his own credibility and presence as a leader. By exercising some leadership restraint, everyone was heard more, including Matthew as the leader.

2. Label your opinions

He learned to carefully label the difference between a random musing, an opinion, and a policy decision.

3. Talk up your mistakes

Let people know about mistakes you have made and what you have learned from them. Let them know how you have incorporated this learning into your decisions and current leadership practices.

Instead of talking about mistakes behind closed doors or just one-on-one, bring them out in the open where the person making a mistake can clear the air and where everyone can learn.

4. Make space for mistakes

Above the “waterline,” people can experiment and take risks and still recover; however, mistakes below the waterline are like cannonballs that may cause catastrophic failure and “sink the ship.”

Free to Think

We need leaders who serve as Liberators, giving people space to think and learn while applying enough pressure to demand their best work.

Multipliers don’t tell people what to think; they tell them what to think about. They define a challenge that invites each person’s best thinking and generates collective will. They create an environment where every brain is utilized and every voice is heard. Instead of rebellion, they create a movement.

The Challenger

The number one difference between a Nobel Prize winner and others is not IQ or work ethic, but that they ask bigger questions.

1. Raising the Bar

“What would be your Mission Impossible?”

As the management team caught the enthusiasm of this high-bar approach, they began to ask the entire organization to do the same. Soon every person inside this 9,500-person organization had a Mission Impossible goal — a crazy aspiration. It appeared that being asked to identify their personal Mission Impossible ignited the charge to make it possible.

He then asked each person to join him in attempting the impossible and to analyze how they might achieve it.

He got more out people than they knew they had —not because he convinced them that a goal was possible, but because he invited them to explore the impossible, that uncertain, uncomfortable place that makes us stretch both our imagination and our capabilities.

1. Seed the opportunity

Multipliers don’t give answers. Instead they begin a process of discovery: they provide just enough information to provoke thinking and to help people discover and see the opportunity for themselves.

Best ways to seed an opportunity is to allow someone else to discover it themselves. When people can see the need for themselves, they develop a deep understanding of the issues, and quite often, all the leader needs to do is get out of their way and let them solve the problem.

Multipliers provide a starting point but not a complete solution. In this way, they generate more questions than answers. These questions then encourage their team to fully define the opportunity while giving them confidence that they are building on a solid foundation.

When a Challenger has successfully seeded an opportunity, other people can see the opportunity for themselves. And because the opportunity has been planted but is not fully grown, others are taken through a process of discovery. This process of exploration and discovery sparks intellectual curiosity and begins to generate energy for the challenge. The answers are not clear yet, so people know “there is still something for me to do,” and they feel motivated to step in and be involved.

2. Lay down a challenge

First, they extend a clear and concrete challenge. Then they ask the hard questions that need to be answered to achieve the challenge, but — most important — they don’t answer them. They let others fill in the blanks.

  • Diminishers give answers.
  • Good leaders ask questions.
  • Multipliers ask the really hard questions.

A bad leader will tell people what to do. A good leader will ask questions and let his or her people figure out the answers. A great leader asks the questions that focus the intelligence of their team on the right problems.

They ask the questions that challenge people not only to think but to rethink. They ask questions so immense that people can’t answer them based on their current knowledge or where they currently stand. To answer these questions, the organization must learn. Enabled by these big questions, a vacuum is created in the space between what people know and what they need to know, and a vacuum between what they can currently do and what they need to be able to do.

Matt created this forward pull when he asked each member of his organization, “What is your Mission Impossible?” By establishing this tension, it became impossible to stay in the same place.

3. Generate belief

Our research showed that Multipliers begin with small, early wins and use those to generate belief toward the greater stretch challenges.

When the Multiplier has generated belief in what is possible, the weight shifts and the organization is willing to leave the realm of the known and venture into the unknown.

Starting Block

Take the extreme question challenge

“What do you think might go wrong?” or “How can we solve this problem?” As I began to tell less and ask more, I found that my management team was even smarter than I had previously seen. Most of the time, they didn’t need me telling them what to do; they needed me to ask an intelligent question.

Create a stretch challenge

Identify a major challenge and start the team by getting specific. Make it an intriguing puzzle by detailing the constraints, such as, “How do we accomplish X by Y date, with only Z resources available to us?” Then stand back and let your team solve the puzzle.

Take a bus trip

For example visit the customer.

Take a massive baby step.

For example creating an early win or low hanging fruit.

The Debate Maker

They engage and leverage the resources around them. Our research has shown that Diminishers tend to make decisions solo or within a small inner circle. As a result, they not only underutilize the intelligence around them but also leave the organization spinning instead of executing.

Multipliers make decisions by first engaging people in debate — not only to achieve sound decisions but also to develop collective intelligence and to ready their organisations to execute.

“Chris, switch sides with Raza. Raza, you’ve been for this idea, you now argue against it. Chris, you now argue for it.” They would switch roles, which felt awkward for a moment or two, but soon they’d begin to pound the issues from the other vantage point.

Assume roles outside of their functional area. Lutz persisted, “Teresa, you’ve been offering an international perspective on this, now look at it with a domestic hat on.”

Three Practices of the Debate Maker

  1. Frame the Issue

Our research has shown that the secret to a great decision is what the leader does before the debate starts. They prepare the organization for discussion and debate by forming the right questions and the right team.

  • THE QUESTION: What is the decision to be made? What are we choosing between?
  • THE WHY: Why is this an important question to answer? Why does the decision warrant collective input and debate? What happens if it is not addressed?
  • THE WHO: Who will be involved in making the decision? Who will give input?
  • THE HOW: How will the final decision be made? Will it be made by majority rule? Consensus?

Multipliers love debate, and they debate with a purpose. They know what they want out of the debate and what they want out of the people involved. Multipliers aren’t just debaters; they are Debate Makers.

2. Spark the Debate

  • ENGAGING: The question is compelling and important to everyone in attendance.
  • COMPREHENSIVE: The right information is shared to generate a holistic and collective understanding of the issues at hand.
  • FACT BASED: The debate is deeply rooted in fact, not opinion.
  • EDUCATIONAL: People leave the debate more focused on what they learned than on who won or lost.

Multipliers create safety and demand rigour.

Multipliers create safety, but they also maintain pressure for a reality-based, rigorous debate. Multipliers make sure everyone is wearing a seat belt because they are about to put their foot on the accelerator.

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. They ask for evidence.

3. Drive a Sound Decision

First, they reclarify the decision-making process.

Second, they make the decision or explicitly delegate it to someone else to decide.

And third, they communicate the decision and the rationale behind it.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

The Investor

When something is off the rails, do you take over or do you invest? When you take the pen to add your ideas, do you give it back? Or does it stay in your pocket? Multipliers invest in the success of others. They may jump in to teach and share their ideas, but they always return to accountability. When leaders fail to return ownership, they create dependent organizations.

Multipliers operate as Investors. They invest by infusing others with the resources and ownership they need to produce results independent of the leader. It isn’t just benevolence. They invest, and they expect results.

You might ask yourself:

  • How would I coach if I could never step out on the playing field?
  • How would I lead if I couldn’t jump in and take over?
  • How would I respond to a performance gap if I were a Multiplier?

The Three Practices of an Investor

  1. Defining Ownership

“Doug, when it comes to how we run this area of the company — you get 51 percent of the vote (and you’re 100 percent responsible for the result). Keep me in the loop, and consult with me as you go.”

When Investors stretch the role, they stretch the person in it. This bigger role creates a vacuum that must be filled.

2. Investing Resources

They protect their investment by infusing the knowledge and resources the person will need to successfully deliver on their accountability.

Additionally, when you are the sole investor, your presence can be overpowering and your attempts to help can be more disruptive than beneficial, especially when the stakes are high.

Typically, the best people to provide this layer of support are colleagues who can offer guidance without undertones of judgment.

3. Holding People Accountable

Investors get involved in other people’s work, but they continually give back leadership and accountability.

Starting Block

  1. Give 51% of the vote

Take this to the next level and let people know that they (not you) are in charge and accountable. Tell them how you will stay engaged and support them, but that they remain in charge.

2. Let nature take its course

But we remember and learn deeply when we experience the natural consequences of our actions. Letting nature teach is hard, because our managerial performance instincts kick in. We want to ensure that our team delivers successfully.

3. Ask for the FIX

  • What solution(s) do you see to this problem?
  • How would you propose we solve this?
  • What would you like to do to fix this?

The Accidental Diminisher

While her intent was to help, her help was a hindrance. What happens when a manager is too quick with ideas and too swift with action? Or too supportive and helpful? Or just enthusiastic or optimistic? Surely these can be character virtues — the kind taught in business school or Sunday school.

Indeed they are, but many popular management practices can lead us, subtly but surely, down the slippery slope to becoming an Accidental Diminisher.

Idea Fountain

He simply believes that the more he tosses around his ideas, the more he will spark ideas in others. But what actually happens around an Idea Fountain? The ideas he tosses out seem compelling, so his team begins to chase them.

As they learn to stop acting on the leader’s ideas, they also stop trying to come up with their own ideas.

Always On

This dynamic, charismatic leader exudes energy; he or she is always engaged, always present, and always has something to say. These are the leaders with a big personality that can fill a room. They assume that their energy is contagious, like a virus to be caught by anyone in their presence.

I just don’t have the energy right now. And all too often around this leader, thinking introverts are suppressed while action-oriented extroverts dominate.


He is a good manager and a decent person, the type of leader who doesn’t like to see people struggle, make avoidable mistakes, or fail. At the first sign of distress, he jumps in and helps. Occasionally, he swoops in with a big, heroic rescue. More often than not, he simply lends a hand, resolves a problem, and helps people across the finish line. Incidentally, we find that this is the most common way leaders accidentally diminish.

Yes, there are times when employees appear to appreciate the help, yet the behavior is nonetheless diminishing — while they may feel relief, they haven’t grown or even fully utilized the intelligence they have.

As leaders, sometimes we are most helpful when we don’t help.


This is the achievement-oriented leader who leads by example. To build momentum, she personally sets the standard for performance and for exemplifying the values of the organization (such as quality, customer service, innovation, etc.). She takes the lead, sets the pace, and expects that the people around her will notice, follow, and, of course, catch up.

Instead of initiating customer contact themselves, they assume this is an executive role and sit back and read the reports. Or perhaps, recognizing the widening gap between the Pacesetter and themselves, they simply give up.

As leaders, sometimes the faster we run, the slower others walk. When leaders set the pace, they are more likely to create spectators than followers.

Rapid Responder

This is the leader who prizes agility and fast turnaround. He takes responsibility and is “on it” — he is quick to respond, troubleshoot problems, and make fast microdecisions. Most of us work with some sort of rapid responder. He sees a problem; he solves it. He sees a bear; he shoots it. Emails don’t last long in his in-box. He opens, reads, and resolves immediately.

But instead of agility, the Rapid Responder tends to generate low-grade apathy. Even the best employees are slow to respond when they know that someone else is already “on it.” Consider what happens when an urgent email hits an employee’s in-box. She opens the email and recognizes its importance. She sees that her boss is copied on it, but the issue falls in her area of responsibility. She considers it hits send and notices that her boss had already replied.

When this happens frequently enough, employees learn to just let the boss deal with the issue — even when the issue at hand was actually theirs to handle. Not only is the Rapid Responder the first one and the only one to respond, this boss is the only one growing.

Because he responds to problems and questions quickly, he releases a lot of decisions into the workflow of his team. The roads become flooded with decisions and as those decisions prompt an excess of action, people move at a crawl, and soon it is full-fledged gridlock.


This positive, can-do manager always sees possibilities and believes that most problems can be tackled with hard work and the right mindset. She has read the research on the power of positive thinking and the incredible mental and physical benefits of optimism.

The Optimist isn’t necessarily a cheerleader; she just focuses on what is possible and believes that the people around her (herself included) are smart and can figure it out. So how could this possibly be diminishing?

“But why?” I probed. He paused and looked me straight in the eye and said, “Because what we are doing is actually really hard.” After another deliberate pause he continued, “And I need you to acknowledge that.

He wasn’t opposed to the idea that it was doable; he simply wanted me to acknowledge the challenge and recognize his struggle. He didn’t want me glossing over the challenge with my optimism.


The aim of the Protector is simply to keep his people safe and unscathed—not even seeing the problems. He worries that if team members get entangled in ugly politics, they might be eaten alive, so he fights off bullies and shields his staff from nasty internal politics.

In fact, with the assumption that people are smart and will figure it out, a Multiplier is inclined to expose people to such toxins and challenges, hoping that they will build resistance and strength.


But sometimes a strategic, visionary leader can go too far and be too prescriptive. She might not be leaving enough space for others to think through the challenges themselves and generate the intellectual muscle needed to make a vision a reality. People can spend their time second-guessing what the boss wants rather than finding answers themselves.


He knows that excellence doesn’t come in one fell swoop, but in back-and-forth iteration.

But, while he sees an A+ in progress, others see nothing but red marks and blue tape all over their work. They see blood and loss and can easily become disengaged and disheartened.

Are you an Accidental Diminsher?

  • How might I be shutting down the ideas and actions of others, despite having the best of intentions?
  • What am I inadvertently doing that might be having a diminishing impact on others?
  • How might my intentions be interpreted differently by others?
  • What messages might my actions actually be conveying?
  • What could I do differently?

Leading with Intention

Even the best leaders have blind spots. Once you identify yours, you can work with your team to develop a set of signals and workarounds. Having a set of common signals will help you spot and avoid Diminisher bait; the workarounds will then help you turn these would-be diminishing episodes into Multiplier moments.

Do Less and Challenge More

Becoming a Multiplier often starts with becoming less of a Diminisher. And this usually means doing less: less talking, less responding, less convincing, and less rescuing of others who need to struggle and learn for themselves. By doing less, we can become more of a Multiplier.

Dealing with Diminishers

Too many well-intended mangers are stuck beneath diminishing leaders. They aspire to lead by bringing out the best in others but find themselves being sucked down a Diminisher’s vortex. I often hear the following said in frustration: “I want to be a Multiplier leader, but my boss ia total Diminisher, so I can’t”.

That the five most prevalent reactions to Diminishers are:

  1. confront them,
  2. avoid them,
  3. quit,
  4. comply and lie low, and
  5. ignore the diminishing behavior

The five least effective strategies in dealing with Diminishers are:

  1. confront them,
  2. avoid them,
  3. comply and lie low,
  4. convince them you are right, and
  5. take HR action

Ultimately, you might join the ranks of those I call Invincibles — people who continue to work using their highest capacity and offer their greatest intelligence, despite being surrounded by diminishing behaviors.

What if, instead of responding with criticism and avoidance, you respond with intellectual curiosity, a hallmark of Multiplier leaders?

Why is he worried? What does he need from me to feel confident and in control of his business? Or, simply, What causes an otherwise decent human being to act like a Diminisher?

As you respond differently, your Diminisher is likely to respond differently as well. Feeling more respected, he is apt, in turn, to extend more respect. The same process works in building (or rebuilding) trust.

Cycle Breakers

  1. It’s not necessarily about you

The Diminisher’s behavior is more likely a function of the pressure they feel from above or the residual effects of ineffectual role models from their past.

2. Diminishing isn’t inevitable

When dealing with a controlling boss, we have more control than we might think. We choose how much legitimacy we grant to a Diminisher’s views.

3. You can lead your leader

You can be your own agent and advocate for your capabilities and defend yourself from well-meaning but overbearing management.


  1. Turn down the volume

My research showed that people who cope best with Diminishers don’t bark at every disturbance. They’ve learned what to ignore. They don’t avoid the Diminisher or pretend the problem doesn’t exist; they merely tune out some of the interference.

2. Strengthen other connections

Building on the idea above, we can reduce the effects of the Diminisher by increasing our connections to different people and work. In other words, if you can’t get inside the Diminisher’s trust circle, build other circles of influence.

3. Retreat and regroup

Even when you win, the victories are usually pyrrhic. When facing an impasse, try regrouping and resetting your aspiration — instead of attempting to win, just stay in the game.

4. Send the right signals.

You can ward off the form of diminishing (fear of missed delivery) by providing delivery assurance.

5. Assert your capability

Sometimes you need to tell an overly helpful manager or colleague that you don’t need help.

6. Ask for performance intel

The first is clear direction — What is the target, and why is it important? Diminishers often become so preoccupied with telling people how to shoot that they forget to first establish the target. When a Diminisher becomes immediately prescriptive, you can ask them to back up and provide more context and direction.

7. Shop for a new boss

Multiply Up

Diminishers want to be valued for their intelligence and ideas; in fact, many are desperate for it. On the other hand, Multipliers enjoy finding other people’s genius and engaging it.

  1. Exploit your boss’ strengths

You don’t need to cede ownership; just make sure to use his or her capabilities at key junctures and in ways they can be most helpful.

2. Give them a user’s guide

You can broadcast your capabilities and help your colleagues pick up the signal. Or you can simply tell people what you are good at and how you can be best used.

3. Listen to Learn

They didn’t do this to placate him or merely to find a better angle for selling their idea. They listened to learn. One of Larry’s executive staff said, “Too many people don’t take the opportunity to really see what Larry can teach them.”

4. Admit your mistakes

You’ll remember that at the core of Diminisher logic is the belief that people aren’t going to figure it out without me. Nothing fuels this cycle like the unrepentant mistake.

5. Sign up for the stretch

Managers can get stuck in the routine of giving people additional work, somehow thinking that more work equates to more growth opportunity.

6. Invite them to the party

Instead of keeping the Diminisher out of your business, trying bringing them in.

Inspiring Multiplier Leadership in Others

  1. ASSUME POSITIVE INTENT. Few Diminishers are willing to engage in a conversation about their diminishing ways. However, most managers are eager to explore their good intentions.
  2. ADDRESS ONE ISSUE AT A TIME. As we’ve seen, those who work with Diminishers feel worn down and burdened. But if we unwisely unload all our frustrations, the Diminisher will only feel attacked
  3. CELEBRATE PROGRESS. When training a dolphin, the animal trainer doesn’t wait until the dolphin jumps twenty feet out of the water and does a flip (the end goal of the training) before giving the dolphin a bucket of fish.

Becoming a Multiplier

  1. RESONANCE. We hear from people everywhere that the distinction between Diminishers and Multipliers resonates deeply with them. Many say, “Yes, I have worked for that manager.”
  2. REALIZATION OF THE ACCIDENTAL DIMINISHER. Virtually all readers have confessed that they see some degree of diminishing behaviors in themselves.
  3. RESOLVE TO BE A MULTIPLIER. After identifying their own diminishing tendencies, they have a genuine desire to become more of a Multiplier. Their conviction builds, but they are often overwhelmed by the Multiplier standard and apparent magnitude of the task.

They found that leaders who were perceived as having no distinguishing strengths were rated at the thirty-fourth percentile of effectiveness of all leaders.

Having one towering strength almost doubled the effectiveness of the leader, provided the leader had no area of sharp weakness.

The Zenger-Folkman study demonstrates that leaders do not need to be good at everything. They need to have mastery of a small number of skills and be free of showstopping weaknesses.


A common misconception in executive coaching is that coaching or development can — or even should — turn your weaknesses into strengths.

The truth is that you do not need to be fabulous at everything. You just can’t be bad. You need to neutralize the weakness and move it into the middle, acceptable zone.


When these small experiments produce successful outcomes, the resulting energy fuels the next, slightly bigger experiment. Over time, these experiments form new patterns of behavior that establish a new baseline.

Becoming a Multiplier Commitment

  1. My new Multiplier assumption is [people are smart and will figure it out], so I need to develop a new habit [giving space].
  2. As I’m becoming a Multiplier, old habits will be mixed with new assumptions.
  3. Until those habits are fully uprooted, I will continue making mistakes diminishing others by [jumping in], while I’m trying to learn to multiply others by [giving space].


If you really want to accelerate your development as a Multiplier leader, let a colleague — an employee, peer, or boss — choose your experiment for you. Pick someone who can see your Accidental Diminisher tendencies.

“It gave us a common language and permission to call out diminishing actions.”

One said, “He’s got every one of them! But it isn’t diminishing because he calls himself out. He says, ‘Maybe I approached that wrong.’ It doesn’t matter if it is in a small group or on a conference call with four thousand people, he’ll say he got it wrong.” A Chicago area manager said, “It means we aren’t afraid to make mistakes or make decisions on our own. If we fail, we try to fail fast and move on.”

  1. Common language: Words and phrases that hold a common meaning within a community based on opinions, principles, and values >> hold a book talk, discuss accidental diminsers
  2. Learned behaviors: A set of learned responses to stimuli >> introduce multiplier mindsets, teach skills
  3. Shared beliefs: The acceptance of something as true >> leadership ethos write down,
  4. Heroes and legends: People who are admired or idealized for their qualities, behavior, and/or achievements and the stories told about their heroic actions >> spotlight a multiplier, measure managers
  5. Rituals and norms: Consistent behavior regularly followed by an individual or a group >> pilot a multiplier practice, integrate practice into business metrics

Engaging in the surface-level practices is like dipping your toe into a pool of water — feeling the temperature of the water but skimming the surface. As your organization engages in the deeper practices, surface-level insights become deeply embedded beliefs and new behaviors are routinized into standard operating practices.

It is a commonly held belief that change, especially cultural change, must start at the top—and with the top executives. While it is prudent for cultural norms to cascade from the top (as is the case at AT&T), it isn’t the only strategy. My colleagues and I have noticed that most successful implementations typically start in the middle.

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Michael Batko

Learning Enthusiast