Multipliers or Diminishers?

MULTIPLIERS – Liz Wiseman @Lizwiseman Willow Creek GLS 2013


Why do some leaders DRAIN intelligence and others AMPLIFY it?


Multipliers act as Talent managers.


There is more intelligence in your organization and teams than you can see and are putting to work.


Being a multiplier is a simple idea – you use your knowledge and skills to amplify and magnify the capability of people around you.

Then they do their best work,

They get more capable working for you.


This is not multiplying YOURSELF so everyone is like you. Or your IDEAS.

You grow THEM.  Their ideas and intelligence.


The leaders model can be ‘If you all get what I want done, done…’ that’s not multiplying.


Who’s been a multipler to you?

Who’s been a diminisher?


How much of your intelligence did each use?


Diminishers on average get 43% of your capability out of you. (micromanage, self-absorbed)


Multipliers on average get 91% out of you. (How do I use all the brains in the room)


Larry Gelwix. High School Rugby team coach that broke all the records. He asked his young men be intelligent on and off the field. He would put a label on them. ‘You’re fast!’ And that guy ran faster and became the fastest guy on the team.



KR Sridhar – his work environment is described as one with tons of pressure, but almost no stress. Really?  Yes that’s possible. 


The big difference is multipliers believed people are smart and will figure it out.


Diminishers believed you can’t figure out without them. ]They are empire builders. They get smart people, but don’t use them. They are tyrants because they create stress. And then we do get stupid because we’re stressed. They set direction based on what they see and know. Thye limit the org to the problems they can solve. A council of one. Only delegate small decisions. Spend a lot of time getting buy in for what they already decided.


Multipliers let the team drive. They become talent magnets. Identify people’s genius and release it toward their fulfillment. They challenge. Make the big ask. They make debate happen. They give others responsibility. They create owners not hirelings.


People who work for diminishers say it’s exhausting and frustrating

For multipliers it’s exhausting but exhilarating!


Most of us sit on the Accidental Diminisher spectrum.  We diminish, without intending to. How might we be shutting down smart and capable people like that?


How to be an Accidental Diminisher


1) Be the idea guy. Brimming with innovation.


That can STOP instead of SPARK ideas. We chase all the ideas and then get tired and stop thinking.


2) Always On


Full on. No off switch. Take all the space. In the end we tune them out and they become just Wah Wah Wah like Charlie Brown’s teacher.


3) The Rescuer

Who never wants to see people fail. But we just extend help – too early and too often, and they get starved of vital learning they need. We create dependency.


4) The Pace Setter

‘I will set the standard and everyone will follow.’  But if you get too far ahead, they don’t race to catch up, They hold back. They can’t keep up so we end up with spectators.


5) Rapid Responder,

Make quick decisions, make everyone move fast. But you miss the data.


6) Optimist

We can do this! (How can this possibly be diminishing?). Well what if it’s not realistic? If it misses out on the reality of the struggle? If you always say ‘How hard can it be?’ You’re missing out on the fact that it CAN be hard!


Any of these can have a diminishing impact.


This makes you VULNERABLE to having a diminishing impact without knowing.


The truth is, we don’t tend to drift into better behavior.

What’s ONE thing you need to do?


E.g. if you’re the IDEA GUY – why not just ASK QUESTIONS.  Then listen to theirs.



Bono described Clooney as the guy that (like Disraeli) when you met him you left thinking ‘I am the smartest person in the room’


Be the genius maker, not the genius.