Sunday, February 1, 2015

Multipliers:  How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter
By Liz Wiseman & Greg McKeown
Published 2010

Recommendation: Worth the read.

Liz Wiseman teaches leadership to executives around the world.   She is president of The Wiseman Group, a leadership research and development center based in Silicon Valley, CA.   She is a former executive at Oracle.

Greg McKeown is a partner at The Wiseman Group.

Foreword by Stephen R Covey

The premise of this book is that every organization has its Multipliers and Diminishers.   It is as research based book much like Good to Great and other Jim Collins books.  The research focus was to define the question: “What are the vital differences between intelligence Diminishers and intelligence Multipliers, and what impact do they have on the organization?”

Here are some quotes from the book that briefly define a Multiplier:

1It isn’t how much you know that matters. What matters is how much access you have to what other people know. It isn’t just how intelligent your team members are; it is how much of that intelligence you can draw out and put to use. We’ve all experienced these two types of leaders. What type of leader are you right now? Are you a genius, or are you a genius maker?

2Because Multipliers are leaders who look beyond their own genius and focus their energy on extracting and extending the genius of others, they get more from their people. They don’t get a little more; they get vastly more.

3The impact of a Multiplier can be seen in two ways: first, from the point of view of the people they work with and second, from the point of view of the organizations they shape and create.

4Our research confirmed that Multipliers not only access people’s current capability, they stretch it. They get more from people than they knew they had to give. People reported actually getting smarter around Multipliers. The implication is that intelligence itself can grow.

A diminisher is the opposite of a Multiplier:

5The Diminisher’s view of intelligence is based on elitism and scarcity.  Diminshers appear to believe that really intelligent people are a rare breed and I am one of the few really smart people.  They then conclude, other people will never figure things out without me.

6Diminishers’ two-step logic appears to be people who don’t “get it” now, never will; therefore, I’ll need to keep doing the thinking for everyone. In the Diminisher world, there is no vacation for the smart people!

The difference:
7Multipliers look at the complex opportunities and challenges swirling around them and assume: there are smart people everywhere who will figure this out and get even smarter in the process . Therefore, they conclude that their job is to bring the right people together in an environment that liberates people’s best thinking and then to get out of their way.

Multipliers are Talent Magnets, Liberators and Investors.   They look for talent everywhere, find people’s native genius, utilize people to their fullest and remove the road blocks

A Diminisher is an Empire Builder not a Talent Magnet.   The book had the following chart to emphasis this point:

Empire Builders What They Do:
Hoard resources and underutilize talent

What They Get:
·         A reputation as the person A players should avoid working for (“ the place you go to die”)
·         Underutilized people whose capability atrophies
·         Disillusioned A players who don’t reach out to other A players
·         A stagnation of talent where disillusioned A players quit and stay

Talent Magnets What They Do:
Attract talent and deploy it at its highest point of contribution

What They Get:
·         A reputation as the person A players should work for (“ the place you go to grow”)
·         Fully utilized people whose genius continues to expand
·         Inspired A players who attract other A players into the organization
·         A flow of A players attracting other A players as they then move up and out of the organization

Becoming a Multiplier:
1.       Become a Talent Magnet
a.       Become a Genius Watcher
b.      Don’t be afraid to “pull some weeds”
c.       Up and to the right
8Talent Magnets encourage people to grow and leave. They write letters of recommendation and they help people find their next stage to perform on. And when people leave their group, they celebrate their departures and shout their success to everyone. You see, these celebrations become their best recruiting tool. Jack and Suzy Welch wrote, “The best thing about being a preferred employer is that it gets you good people, and this launches a virtuous cycle. The best team attracts the best team, and winning often leads to more winning. That’s a ride that you and your employees will never want to get off.” 4 Talent Magnets create a cycle of attraction that is exhilarating for employer and employee alike. Their organizations are coveted places of employment, and people flock to work for them knowing the Talent Magnet will stretch them, grow them, and accelerate their careers. It is a thrill ride with the speed and exhilaration of a roller coaster but one that, like the revenue chart of every CFO’s dreams, moves constantly “up and to the right.”

2.       Become a Liberator
The opposite of a Liberator is a Tyrant.  Multipliers create an intense environment in which superior thinking and work can flourish.  Tyrants create a tense environment that suppresses people’s thinking and capability.

3.       Become a Challenger
The opposite of a Challenger is a Know-it-all.   Challengers define opportunities that challenge people to go beyond what they know how to do.   As a result they get an organization that understands the challenge and has the focus and energy to take it on.   A Know-it-all gives directives that showcase how much they know.   As a result they limit what their organization can achieve to what they themselves know how to do.  The organization uses its energy to deduce what the boss thinks.

4.       Become a Debate Maker
The opposite of a Debate Maker is a Decision Maker.  A Debate Maker accesses a wide spectrum of thinking in a rigorous debate before making decisions.   A Decision Maker engages a select inner circle in the decision making process underutilizing the bulk of their resources.
Decision makers decide efficiently with a small inner circle, but they leave the broader organization in the dark to debate the soundness of the decision instead of executing it.   Debate Makers engage people in debating the issues up front, which lead to sound decisions that people understand and can execute efficiently.

5.       Become an Investor
The opposite of an Investor is a Micromanager.
Multipliers don’t act as Investors because it makes people feel good.  They invest because they value the return on their investment.   They believe that people perform their best when they have a natural accountability.  So they define ownership, invest resources and hold people accountable.
Micromanagers manage every detail of the work to ensure it is completed the way they would do it

Corporate culture can encourage a Diminisher.  Often, either your boss is one or you are, and you’re just too busy to consider changing your mindset, your relationship to your colleagues or how you do your job.   Fortunately, you can deploy a few lazy methods to become a leader more closely aligned with the qualities of a Multiplier.   The book suggests the following steps.
1.       Work the extremes
If you’re trying to be good at every positive leadership quality, stop.  If you have a single, huge, glaring weakness, stop indulging that too.  Take the best thing that you do and do it better.   Get rid of the worst thing that you do, or at least bring it into the range where it isn’t harmful.
2.       Start with assumptions
The ideas you assume to be true guide your actions.   If you think everyone around you is unintelligent or incompetent, you will likely manage in ways that create a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Practice the chief assumption Multipliers hold: “people are smart and will figure it out,” and watch how this belief proves itself true.
3.       Give yourself 30 days
To start behaving like a Multiplier, in any category, practice a new approach for 30 days.  It will become a positive habit.

This process will get you started.   Adding layers over time and working with others on similar goals will move you from being a “genius” to being a “genius maker.”

1Wiseman, Liz; McKeown, Greg (2010-06-03). Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter (Kindle Locations 254-257). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

2Wiseman, Liz; McKeown, Greg (2010-06-03). Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter (Kindle Locations 264-266). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

3Wiseman, Liz; McKeown, Greg (2010-06-03). Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter (Kindle Locations 267-268). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

4Wiseman, Liz; McKeown, Greg (2010-06-03). Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter (Kindle Locations 287-288). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

5Wiseman, Liz; McKeown, Greg (2010-06-03). Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter (Kindle Locations 379-382). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

6Wiseman, Liz; McKeown, Greg (2010-06-03). Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter (Kindle Locations 394-396). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

7Wiseman, Liz; McKeown, Greg (2010-06-03). Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter (Kindle Locations 410-413). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

8Wiseman, Liz; McKeown, Greg (2010-06-03). Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter (Kindle Locations 1088-1096). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.