Multipliers · How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter · Book Review


In the revised version of “Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter”, Liz Wiseman offers a compelling exploration of leadership that transcends traditional paradigms. The book delves into the concept of “Multipliers” and “Diminishers,” two distinct leadership archetypes that either amplify or stifle the intelligence and capabilities of their teams. With a blend of empirical research, case studies, and practical insights, Wiseman provides a roadmap for leaders aspiring to foster a culture of growth and innovation.

Wiseman introduces the central thesis by contrasting Multipliers, who use their intelligence to enhance the capabilities of those around them, with Diminishers, who inadvertently drain the intelligence and energy from their teams. Multipliers are characterized by their ability to unlock the full potential of their team members, encouraging them to think independently, take initiative, and grow. In contrast, Diminishers often micromanage, hoard decision-making power, and undermine the confidence and capabilities of their employees.

One of the book’s strengths lies in its rich anecdotal evidence, which brings the concepts to life. Wiseman shares stories of leaders from various industries, illustrating how Multipliers create environments where people feel valued and empowered. For example, she highlights how Tim Brown of IDEO fosters a culture of creativity and experimentation, encouraging his team to explore and iterate on ideas without fear of failure. These stories provide tangible examples of how Multipliers operate and the profound impact they have on their organizations.

Wiseman outlines five key disciplines that distinguish Multipliers from Diminishers:

  1. Attracting and Optimizing Talent: Multipliers recognize and utilize the diverse talents within their teams. They create environments where individuals are not only encouraged to bring their best selves but also challenged to grow and develop new skills.
  2. Creating Intensity that Requires Best Thinking: Multipliers foster a culture of rigorous debate and critical thinking. They challenge their teams with tough problems and high expectations, driving them to exceed their perceived limits.
  3. Extending Challenges: Multipliers are adept at identifying opportunities for growth and stretch assignments that push their teams to develop new capabilities. They trust their teams to tackle complex problems and support them through the process.
  4. Debate Making: Multipliers value diverse perspectives and create forums for constructive debate. They ensure that all voices are heard and that decisions are made through collective intelligence rather than top-down mandates.
  5. Instilling Ownership and Accountability: Multipliers instill a strong sense of ownership and accountability in their teams. They delegate responsibility and trust their teams to deliver, fostering a culture of empowerment and self-reliance.

Wiseman also addresses the challenges of transforming from a Diminisher to a Multiplier. She acknowledges that many leaders may unknowingly exhibit Diminisher tendencies due to ingrained habits or organizational cultures. However, she provides actionable strategies for making this shift, emphasizing the importance of self-awareness, deliberate practice, and seeking feedback from colleagues and subordinates.

The revised and updated edition of the book includes new research and updated case studies, reflecting the evolving landscape of leadership in a rapidly changing world. Wiseman’s insights are particularly relevant in today’s context, where organizations must navigate unprecedented levels of complexity and uncertainty. The principles of Multipliers are timeless, but their application is more critical than ever as leaders strive to build resilient, adaptive, and high-performing teams.

Take as a whole, “Multipliers, Revised and Updated: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter” is an essential read for anyone in a leadership position. Liz Wiseman’s work is a powerful reminder that great leaders are not defined by their own intelligence but by their ability to bring out the best in others. The book is a call to action for leaders to move beyond traditional command-and-control approaches and embrace a more empowering, inclusive, and effective style of leadership. By doing so, they can create organizations where everyone is motivated to contribute their best thinking and achieve extraordinary results.