Multipliers, by Liz WisemanMultipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter

Liz Wiseman

I was attracted to this book to learn how to better coach executives and owners I work with to optimize the talent they have and attract new talent to their companies.  I wasn’t disappointed!  The author identified the key problems and illustrated a better way for executives to leverage the talent they have and set their organizations up to be talent magnets.


Problems in Today’s Organizations

 Many people in our organizations are under-utilized while our best people are maxed out.

Our ability to absorb one more change when we have been barraged with change after change is significantly less.

Executives and business owners can’t simply delegate but need to help the leaders working with them. Specifically, they need to stop adding work without taking away work that no longer has the value that it once did.

My conclusion:  We can’t simply manage people in today’s work environment as we had in the past.  The times are different, the work is different, and the people are different.

Types of Leaders

The author suggests that we have two types of leaders in today’s organizations, diminishers and multipliers.

Diminishers are strong at the task and very intelligent.  However, they are focused too heavily on what they accomplish and how smart they are, stifle others around them, thus depleting the organization of crucial intelligence and capability.

Multipliers create other leaders or geniuses.  They can identify and amplify the intelligence in leaders around them.  As a result, they build collective, viral intelligence in others.

It may not be hard to spot the difference in executives and ourselves but identifying their mindset is a sure sign.  Diminishers think, “They will never figure this problem out without me!”  Multipliers think and say, “I have hired smart people.  They will figure this out and be better off for it.”

Multipliers Disciplines

An obvious benefit of having a team of multipliers is that talent magnets attract talented people, who flourish when led in the right way, bring their highest contribution to their team and the organization.  What practices best identify multipliers?

  1. Attracting & Optimizing Talent: They are talent magnets, they attract and deploy talent to its fullest, and people flock to work with them because they know they will have the opportunity to grow and be successful.
  2. Creating Intensity That Requires Best Thinking: Multipliers establish a unique and highly motivating work environment where everyone has space to think and the space to do their best work.  That environment is liberating, producing a climate that is both comfortable and intense.
  3. Extending Challenges: Multipliers act as challengers, continually challenging themselves and other to push beyond what they know.  When seeing opportunities and laying down challenges for the team, they foster a belief that the work can be done.
  4. Debating Decisions: Multipliers drive sound decisions through rigorous debate.  Status quo in not acceptable.  In addition, what’s important is that the debate engage debate issues up front, not throughout the process.
  5. Instilling Ownership & Accountability: Multipliers deliver and sustain superior results by asking for and expecting high expectations across the organization.  They serve as investors who provided needed results for success.

As a result, multipliers will achieve far more than the laze faire approach where everyone is left up to their own approach.  It’s not easy and it will take discipline for you to move from diminisher to multiplier.

Where would you start?  I hope that I have represented the authors work well enough that you would be curious to learn more by ordering a copy of the book, or listen to it on your app.  There you will see that the authors suggest taking a 5-step approach:  start with your assumptions; work with your extremes (neutralizing weakness & topping off a strength); focus your effort with a small experiment; ask a colleague to help select a starting experiment; and finally, brace yourself for setbacks.  It will happen.

My Conclusion

This book is one of the most revealing, on target, and most challenging concepts for executives to implement.  While not easy, the author shares a significant amount of content, in a way that is both compelling and useful.  She provides the framework and ideas for each of us to become stronger leaders, executives, and business owners.


Dan Loichinger is a Vistage Chair & executive coach outside of Madison, Wisconsin.  With over 25 years of experience in executive coaching and development, he serves small to middle market organizations.  With the privilege of walking alongside CEOs, owners and business advisors, he has the opportunity to impact executive decision-making, leadership and organizational growth.