Liz Wiseman, Multipliers – InnovaBuzz 153


Liz Wiseman, Multipliers

In this episode, it’s a privilege to have on the InnovaBuzz podcast as my guest, Liz Wiseman, a researcher and executive advisor who teaches leadership to executives around the world. She is the author 3 books: Multipliers, The Multiplier Effect, and Rookie Smarts.

Liz is also CEO of the Wiseman Group, a leadership research and development firm that works with large corporations on both leadership development and also does research into the field of leadership and collective intelligence.

In our discussion, Liz talked to me about:

  • The five behaviours of leaders who are multipliers and bring out the best in their team members
  • How to avoid accidentally and unintentionally “diminishing” team members, as a leader and
  • the importance of intellectual curiosity and asking questions – she described the Extreme Question Challenge.

Jason Rosoff on Episode 113 suggested we interview Liz.

Listen to the podcast to find out more.

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Multipliers create an environment of safety for people to speak up, think differently, to experiment and take risks which are both substantial to innovation. @LizWiseman on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

Show Notes from this episode with Liz Wiseman, author of Multipliers

Key points and take-aways from this episode include:

  • Diminishers are smart but people around them didn’t get to be as smart as they actually were. 
  • Multipliers use their intelligence in a very different way. People around them got to be smart. People are always moving forward and are engaged. They weigh in and contribute their best thinking.
  • Diminishers get less than half of the people’s capabilities whilst multipliers get richly all of it.
  • The five major differences in how Diminishers and Multipliers operate:
  1. How they manage talent – Diminishing leaders tend to utilise resources. They hire smart people. Multipliers engage people’s native genius. They look for what people can do naturally, easily and freely, and put those into work.
  2. The work environment they create – Diminishers tend to create an environment of stress. Multipliers create an environment of safety for people to speak up, think differently, to experiment and take risks which are both substantial to innovation.
  3. The way they set direction – Diminishers tend to give directives. They tell people what to do. Multipliers play the role of a challenger. They ask hard questions, explore new possibilities and invite their people to do things they have not done before.
  4. The way they make decisions – Diminishers tend to be decision makers. Multipliers tend to be debate makers. They invite people to weigh in the most important decisions that are going to affect the organisation.
  5. The way they execute – Diminishers tend to be micromanagers. Multipliers tend to be investors. They give people ownership and accountability.
  • A leader should talk less and ask more.
  • The fundamental role of a leader is not to give answers. The critical skill of the century is not what you know but your ability to find out what other people know.
  • Innovation does not come from leaders prescribing answers. It comes from leaders asking what is possible.
  • The number one characteristic of a multiplier is intellectual curiosity. They operate from a place where they are more interested in what others know. They are interested in what they don’t know and are drawn to that space.
  • The easy way to stay intellectually curious is to continue to work on the outer edge of what you know how to do. Keep taking on jobs, challenges or problems that you don’t have answers for. When you operate outside of the realm of what you know how to do it forces you to ask good questions. It forces you to reach out to others and to mobilise the expertise of others rather than draw solely on your own.
  • We tend to do the best work outside our area of expertise.
  • Having a growth mindset is a combination of having high degrees of self-confidence and competence, but low degrees of situational confidence.
  • For a leader to really bring out the best in others, they have to maintain a little bit of space. Give people the space to figure it out on their own. The best leaders will ask hard questions, give ownership, and then back away a little bit.
  • Help someone who is struggling but don’t take over.
  • Size the challenge right. 
  • Examples of Accidental Diminisher Tendencies:
  1. The Pace Setter – leaders who lead by example. When a leader gets out ahead of his team, they end up watching the leader then speeding up. Setting the pace tends to create more spectators than followers.
  2. The Rapid Responder – leaders who want agility and action so they can respond very quickly to things.
  3. The Idea Guy – leaders who love creative moments, likes people to come up with ideas. People tend to get lazy around people who are idea rich.
  4. The Rescuer – leaders who step in to help. Know how your best intentions can be received very differently by others and how these can cause people to hold back rather to step up. 
  • Leadership is not about how you try to play small but how you play your strengths and find a way to invite people to play their strengths as well. It is tampering your own strengths to make room for other people’s strengths.
Diminishers get less than half of the people's capabilities whilst multipliers get richly all of it. @LizWiseman on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

The Buzz – Our Innovation Round

  1. #1 thing to be more innovative – Work on the outer edge of what you know how to do.
  2. Best thing for new ideas – Ignore what’s happening in the market. Do what comes naturally out of your own curiosity. If you want someone to do out of the box thinking, don’t focus on the box.
  3. Favourite tool for innovation – The “naive yes”. Making a habit of saying YES to something before you think it through. 
  4. Keep project / client on track –  Get my thinking out on paper.
  5. Differentiate – Don’t try too hard. You were born differentiated. Just be yourself and embrace what’s unique about you. When we only do what only we can do, we end up differentiated and we end up working at our highest level of contribution.

To Be A Leader

Don’t take shortcuts. Do the hard work. Taking a shortcut is different than being able to do more great work efficiently. To produce something great you have to do the work so that when you come out with something, you could stand behind it.

Reach Out

You can reach out and thank Liz through her websiteLinkedin and on Twitter.



Cool things about Liz

  • She worked over the course of 17 years as the Vice President of Oracle University and as the global leader for Human Resource Development.
  • She has been listed on the Thinkers50 ranking and named one of the top 10 leadership thinkers in the world.
  • She writes for Harvard Business Review, Fortune, and a variety of other business and leadership journals.
Leadership is not about how you try to play small but how you play your strengths and find a way to invite people to play their strengths as well. @LizWiseman on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

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Jürgen Strauss

Dr. Jürgen Strauss is The World's Best Human-Centred Podcasting Coach and the only Podcast Innovator with the signature bright yellow headphones, who masterfully crafts human connection for high-impact achievers in a vibrant community. You can find Jürgen on LinkedIn, The InnovaBuzz Podcast, The Flywheel Nation Community as well as on Innovabiz' InstagramTwitter, Facebook pages and his personal Photography website.  

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