Tag Archives: leadership

Smart Leaders Get More Out of the Employees They Have


By Liz Wiseman

This is an excerpt from VitalSmarts online magazine “Trainer Talk.

Where do you turn for the resources you need to fuel growth? Do you hire new talent, or ask for more from your existing employees?

In growing companies, the temptation to fuel growth by hiring new talent is almost irresistible. The hiring path is especially compelling for hot growth companies; they are inherently attractive employers and can afford new resources. But before calling the recruiter, perhaps you should consider how completely you are using the resources already inside of your organization. You probably know how productively your company is using your physical assets, but do you know how deeply you are using the intelligence and capability of your people?

Let’s look at an example from the heart of high-growth Silicon Valley. At Salesforce.com, Rajani Ramanathan is the chief operating officer across the products and technology division. As might be expected of a savvy engineering leader, Rajani began measuring how deeply her managers were tapping into the intelligence and capability of their teams. She then challenged her management team to raise this metric by 10 percent, with hopes to grow the business while also growing the people on her team. One year later, they re-measured and discovered that the subset of her management team that participated in the study collectively raised their score from 70 percent to 78 percent. Their eight-point gain is the rough equivalent of a headcount increase of twenty-five people.

Most companies are adept at bringing in smart, talented people but few companies put as much discipline into understanding how fully they are using the talent they’ve acquired. Many managers are so focused on their own ideas and capability that they shut down intelligence around them. I call these leaders “diminishers.” Yet other leaders seem to amplify the intelligence around them. These leaders are “multipliers.”

To determine the impact of these two types of leaders, my colleagues and I studied 150 leaders across four continents, asking their subordinates to quantify how much of their intelligence the leader was getting access to. We found that, on average, these diminishing leaders used only 48 percent of people’s intellectual capability. Multipliers used 95 percent, or twice that of the diminishing leaders. Now, two years after publishing this research and assessing hundreds of additional executives, we find that, on average, managers are utilizing just 66 percent of their people’s capability. In other words, the managers in our analysis pay a dollar for their resources but only extract 66 cents in capability — a 34 percent waste. (To be concluded in Trainer Talk.)


To read the rest of the article in it’s entirety, please visit VitalSmarts online magazine “Trainer Talk.

Liz Wiseman will be sharing more insights on this topic at REACH, July 29th-31st 2014.

The Accidental Diminisher Poster Download

Over the past several months we have received an incredible amount of interest surrounding the Accidental Diminisher Infographic. People want to know where they can get a copy to print and hang on their office wall!

Click the link below to download and print the 11×17 Accidental Diminisher Poster.


Download a PDF of the Accidental Diminisher Infographic Poster here.

Liz Wiseman Recognized By Thinkers50 As Top Leadership Thinker

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Based on the original thinking and rigorous research behind Multipliers and The Wiseman Group, Liz Wiseman has been listed on the Thinkers50 rankings and named one of the Top 10 Leadership Thinkers in the world!

We sincerely want to thank everyone who took the time to vote for Liz Wiseman and Multipliers. This would not have been made possible without your support and enthusiasm sharing these ideas.

The Wiseman Group would also like to congratulate Clay Christensen, who ranked as the #1 management thinker in 2011 and again in 2013. We are proud to have some of his great thinking captured in the foreword for The Multiplier Effect.

While attending the Thinkers50 gala in London, Wiseman was interviewed for the official Thinkers50 video: “Liz Wiseman’s Big Idea.”

Wiseman discusses how the latent intelligence all around us, is often underutilized in organizations.


Have you ever worked for a Multiplier that has inspired you and utilized all of your intelligence and capability? Or have you worked for a Diminisher that stifles your genius?

To learn more about the world class thinkers who attended the event, the Thinkers50 Rankings, and to view more video of the gala, please visit the Thinkers50 website.

How To Play To Others’ Intelligence

Liz Wiseman Speaks


Click this link to read ‘How To Play To Others’ Intelligence‘, an interview with Liz Wiseman featured in the Washington Post.

Liz Wiseman discusses her management theories with Tom Fox, a guest writer for On Leadership and vice president for leadership and innovation at the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service. Fox also heads up their Center for Government Leadership.

Take a Job You Aren’t Qualified For

Growing Business

Have you ever turned down a job because you believed you may not be qualified for it?

Read Liz Wiseman’s new blog Take A Job You Aren’t Qualified For and add some tools to your job searching tool belt. Discover how stepping out of your comfort zone can lead to exhilarating growing opportunities.

Published on mariashriver.com, a place for inspirational stories from architects of change.

Shopping for Your Next (Multiplier) Boss

Worlds Best Boss

by Rob DeLange, September 2013

Have you ever been in a job interview at that critical point when the interviewer makes that timeless inquiry: “Do you have any questions for me?”  Some people use that opening to ask about team characteristics and more specifics about the job.  While those things are important, remember also that this is a perfect time to find out if the hiring manager tends to lead like a Diminisher or a Multiplier.

There’s a lot at stake—not only your future job satisfaction, but also the trajectory of your career.  You may recall from Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, Multiplier leaders create a cycle of growth for those they lead, whereas Diminisher leaders create a cycle of dependency and decline, turning A players into A- or B players.

If you can detect diminishing leadership before you make the mistake of working in that environment, you will save yourself lots of stress and avoid career stagnation because your full capabilities are left on the sidelines.

I’ve had the good fortune to work with some great Multipliers in my professional life. Each has prepared me for more fulfilling and meaningful work later on—although I didn’t always recognize it at the time.  Diminishers have the opposite effect.  They slowly (and sometimes imperceptibly) drain your confidence, your passion for excellence, and your desire to stretch.  Staying in that cycle for a prolonged period of time can severely damage your career.

So how can you detect Multiplier or Diminisher leadership tendencies in an interview?  Here are a few questions oriented to your potential peer group that can reveal much about the mindset of the hiring manager.

1.  How are decisions made on this team?

If the answer is “The Big Cheese calls the shots” there’s a good chance that you are dealing with a Diminisher.  Responses like “it depends on the situation” may indicate Accidental Diminisher tendencies such as pace-setter or rescuing behaviors mentioned in The Multiplier Effect book by Liz Wiseman, Elise Foster, and Lois Allen.

One of the best answers I’ve heard is “we are consulted on issues of importance, and sometimes the team has heated debate about which way to go”.  That’s excellent evidence of Multipliers leadership in action.

Don’t forget to compare the answer you get from the boss with the perceptions of direct reports—and former employees.  Incongruent responses are a big red flag.

2.  What’s the greatest challenge that you’ve had to deal with on the job?

Find out how the scenario played out.  Was it an unforeseen crisis or was it actually orchestrated by the leader?  Did the boss ask them to do something hard to help the organization achieve a lofty goal, or was it a fire drill created by the whim of the leader?  Did the boss tell them how to go about overcoming the challenge?  How deeply was the leader involved in the resolution?

The best responses will point to the leader asking big questions or stretching people to go beyond what they might have done before.  Also, the boss will give coaching or guidance, but not rescue a person from failure.  Were others on the team willing and able to help?  That indicates people are free to contribute at their best.

Here’s a potential red flag: the challenge doesn’t seem like a substantive challenge to you, or the solution emerged along a “primrose path” rather than the person struggling a bit or making a mistake or two along the way.

You want to find evidence of real challenge, where mistakes happen within tolerance limits and people grow.  If time permits, ask them to share another challenge before or after the one they just related so you can see if there was increasing or diminishing complexity—or if the challenge was a one time event.

3.  How are your 1×1 meetings with your boss?

The key objective of this question is to find out who controls the agenda: the boss, or their direct reports. Multipliers will ask questions, set a standard of excellence, and share important information—but they won’t dictate the agenda.   This is a good place to seek evidence of micromanaging behaviors.   If in doubt, ask the person to give you a play-by-play of their most recent 1×1 conversation.

Red flags: “We don’t have them” or “I just give status on my projects”.

4.  How much turnover has there been on this team during the time you’ve been here? For those who have left, where have they gone?

Too much turnover might mean that people are getting burnt out or exhausted due to tyrannical or micromanaging behavior.   Too little turnover might indicate complacency, lack of challenge, or a protectionist leader who puts talent “behind the glass” for all the world to see but not touch.

The best responses will indicate that people leave to take challenging development opportunities in line with their career goals, or they get promoted and move up elsewhere in the business.   You want to see evidence that people are prepared to do bigger and better things as a result of working for this hiring manager.

5.  If you had all power and could change ONE thing about the leadership style of your boss, what would it be?

Watch body language and listen carefully to this response.  If you sense that the person isn’t being candid, you might be dealing with a boss that is working hard to create an environment that preserves their image or infallibility.  If the person genuinely doesn’t know, that could be a red flag too because the leader might not be fostering an environment where people can learn (make mistakes).

The best response is usually a smile or a laugh where the person exclaims: “Oh yes, she tends to get on her soapbox a lot and we sometimes have to call her out on that.”  Frank answers are also good, such as “his workaholic mentality – but we’ve talked about it and I’ve seen progress”.

It is always a good sign if elements of the leader’s personal development plan are brought forward in conversation because that’s an environment where you can also develop with the support of your boss and peers.


I’ve shared a few of my favorite interview questions to help you shop for your next boss.  I hope these have sparked deeper thinking that will enable you to add a few questions of your own to accurately assess whether or not a hiring manager leads like a Multiplier or a Diminisher.

If necessity dictates that you must accept employment for an interim period working for a Diminisher, you can still be proactive and reap the benefits of Multipliers leadership practices yourself.  Liz Wiseman gave good advice about that in this HBR blog: How To Bring Out The Best In Your Boss.

But, as Winston Churchill once said, never give up. Never, never, never give up! Don’t get discouraged and stay in Diminisher territory indefinitely. Be relentless and continue to rigorously interview until you get your chance to work for a genuine Multiplier.  It will make all the difference!


Rob DeLange is the Director of Training and Consulting at The Wiseman Group, a leadership research and development center in Silicon Valley. Rob enables organizations to deeply implement the essential practices of the Multiplier, as documented in the book “Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter.”

Your Optimism Might Be Stifling Your Team

HRB Blog Image

Is it possible that a can-do attitude that worked so well for you as an individual contributor may actually work against you as a leader?

Check out Liz Wiseman’s blog post on Harvard Business Review which outlines the pitfalls of optimism and how not acknowledging the downside can diminish a team. Find out how Nike, Inc.’s chief of global design, John Hoke, sparked a transformation in his organization once he realized the restrictive impact his and his management team’s optimism was generating.

Meet the 2012 Education Multiplier of the Year, Erik Burmeister, Hillview Middle School

Award Presentation

Erik Burmeister, principal of the Hillview Middle School in Menlo Park, was honored as the 2012 Education Multiplier of the Year in recognition of his ability to amplify the intelligence and capabilities of people around him.  Erik’s leadership style reflects the key Multiplier principal of being a “genius maker” by tapping into the collective intelligence of the teachers and staff to create a nimble organization and environment of innovation.

The Multiplier of the Year award is sponsored annually by The Wiseman Group, a leadership research and development center headquartered in Silicon Valley.  Erik was selected from dozens of nominees in K-12 and higher education based upon his demonstrated ability to channel the intelligence, talent and creativity of his staff.

“The word ‘multiplier’ is perfect to describe Erik’s leadership, except I’d use a hefty exponent on top of that to explain his positive impact on students, staff, parents, Hillview, and the MPCSD Community,” said Dr. Maurice Ghysels, superintendent of the Menlo Park Community School District.  Nancy Marsh, the teacher who nominated Erik, adds, “He has created an environment where teachers feel valued and want to share their ideas.  Erik is always open to input.  As a result, the overall enthusiasm and creativity at Hillview has skyrocketed this year.”

Erik Burmeister was honored at a special reception at the Hillview Middle School on Wednesday, March 6, 2013.  Wiseman Group president Liz Wiseman, best-selling author, speaker and executive advisor, presented Erik with his award.

How Do Smart Leaders Fuel Growth In Their Organizations?

HRB Blog Image

Maybe its not by hiring more people; maybe its developing better managers—managers who deeply utilize the intelligence and talent of their teams. Check out Liz Wiseman’s blog posted on Harvard Business Review which argues that too many organizations are out grocery shopping for new talent instead of opening the refrigerator door to see what’s already there. Find out how one group in Salesforce.com created the equivalent of 25 new headcount by better utilizing their existing team.

The Multipliers Bill of Rights


by Rob DeLange, July 2012

Over the past few decades we’ve seen political revolutions sweep the globe, bringing down dictatorships in Eastern Europe, the Philippines, Libya, Egypt, and other nations. Seeds of democracy and freedom have been sown through these movements on a scale that is unprecedented in world history.

I believe a similar revolution is taking place now within the realm of leadership and management. Old assumptions, models, and notions about top-down leadership are giving way to a new paradigm called Multipliers, where the burden of thinking literally shifts from the leader to their people, and intelligence becomes exponentially more accessible and actionable across the enterprise.

Organizations that embrace Multipliers ideas are starting to realize the 2X effect as they effectively double their workforce capabilities with existing staff. In too many cases, however, we still see evidence that powerful hard-core (or accidental) Diminishers stay entrenched in less productive ways of thinking, delaying or hindering the spectacular results that might otherwise be realized if the full intelligence of their people were unleashed.

Most modern democracies have a constitution as a cornerstone of government to effectively prevent any one person or group from having too much power to violate the rights of others. What if companies had a foundation like this to govern leadership behavior within their corporate cultures? What constitutional protections would enable Multipliers leadership to thrive and replicate within organizations?

I’ve taken a stab at this using the US Constitution as a framework (only because I have more familiarity with that document than other national constitutions). My goal is to extract core principles of Multipliers leadership and codify it into a “Multipliers Bill of Rights”. In doing so, I’ve attempted to preserve as much of the original language as possible.

Freedom to Think. Management shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of intelligence; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the right of the people to have space to do their best thinking so they can find solutions to the most difficult and pressing problems.

Right to Challenge Assumptions. A well informed workforce, being necessary to the survival of the organization in times of rapid change, retains the right to challenge prevailing assumptions, current processes, and put forth new ideas that shall not be infringed.

Conditions for Intellectual Curiosity. No worker shall, at any time be “placed in a box” or prevented from learning in a manner that is independent of constant management oversight.

Right to Ask Questions. The right of the people to be secure in their quest for knowledge and get others out of their comfort zone, at times asking difficult discovery or challenge questions, shall at all times be respected by management.

Provisions Concerning the Free Exchange of Native Genius. No person shall be entitled to prima donna status, unless they are proven to be mistake-free. Furthermore, no one shall be compelled to impart knowledge or insights, without due process of inquiry; nor shall intellectual capital be taken from any individual for management use, without due credit to the originator.

Right to Debate. In matters of critical importance, stakeholders shall enjoy the right to a rigorous and public debate, with the decision making process communicated clearly to all. Participants must be informed of the nature and reason for the debate, be granted time to prepare, take an opening position, be confronted with contrary evidence, be willing to switch positions during the debate, and support the final decision regardless of personal views.

Right to Trial. In cases where needs of the business exceed available resources, the right to “supersize” a person’s job shall be reserved by management, and nothing written in that individual’s job description shall limit them in terms of their ability to learn and grow into the expanded role (other than restrictions explicitly prohibited by law).

Right to Make Mistakes. Excessive public humiliation shall not be required, nor excessive financial penalties imposed, nor career-limiting punishments inflicted for making an honest mistake (one time).

Rights Retained by the People. The enumeration of these rights shall not deny or disparage the thinking and contributions of others.

Rights of the People Manager. Powers not delegated specifically to managers at any level in the organization can be negotiated based on business need and the imperative to access the full capabilities of others, irrespective of title or tenure.


Rob DeLange is the Director of Training and Consulting at The Wiseman Group, a leadership research and development center in Silicon Valley. Rob enables organizations to deeply implement the essential practices of the Multiplier, as documented in the book “Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter.”