Here’s the Leadership Strategy Nike’s CEO Uses to Make Employees Smarter

November 14th, 2015

Nike is no stranger to Multipliers leadership. As a client of The Wiseman Group since 2011, it’s thrilling to see the lasting impact and success Multipliers can have when it’s infused into the leadership culture of an organization.

In 2013, Casey Lehner, Global Design Operations Director for Nike, won the Multiplier of the Year Award for business. When she was nominated, her co-workers said, “Casey empowers us to lean into the tension, take risks and iterate. Because she believes we are capable, we believe we are capable.” Almost three year later, Multipliers remains an extremely important part of Nike’s leadership infrastructure.

In this latest article from Business Insider, Nike CEO Mark Parker discusses his leadership strategy and puts emphasis on the Multipliers principle: Ask Challenging Questions – Don’t just teach from your knowledge. Instead, ask challenging questions that go beyond what you know — and learn together with your participants as you search for answers.

The following is an excerpt from Business Insider:

“In a recent profile of Nike CEO Mark Parker, Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky reported that Parker is notorious for constantly asking questions that push employees to think harder.

Fortune quoted Andy Campion, Nike’s chief financial officer: “What’s fascinating about [Parker’s] use of questions is that it leaves other leaders empowered to find the answers themselves and act on them.”

That observation closely mirrors those that other Nike employees have made in the past.

A 2009 USA Today article noted that employees in Nike’s research lab “say there’s no telling when Parker will drop in and start reeling off questions.”

Parker acknowledges that inquisitiveness is a key part of his leadership strategy and a way to support his employees’ development. In 2012, he told Fast Company, “I end up asking a lot of questions, so the team thinks things through. I don’t say ‘Do this, do that.’ I’m not a micromanager. I don’t believe in that. … At Nike, we have incredibly strong people. They know what to do.”

Research suggests that Parker’s hit on a winning management tactic: Leaders who ask questions and encourage their team to find the answers tend to be more effective than those who try to know and do it all themselves.

Writing in The Harvard Business Review, Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown identify two types of leaders: “diminishers” and “multipliers.” Diminishers tend to minimize intelligence among their team because they assume their employees’ abilities are fixed; multipliers believe abilities can be cultivated. Wiseman and McKeown found that multipliers tend to lead teams that are up to twice as productive as those led by diminishers…”

To read the article in it’s entirety, please CLICK HERE or visit

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