“Multipliers – How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter” by Liz Wiseman

Rating: 5/5

I think that this book will appeal to you if you are a leader, want to be a leader, want to be a better leader, or find yourself on the receiving end of not-so-great leadership behaviours.

This book is about the continuum of two leadership styles (multipliers and diminishers) and the impact that the behaviours associated with these styles can have on others. Multipliers amplify other people’s smarts and capabilities while Diminishers drain the intelligence, energy, and capability of the people around them.

Wiseman’s arguments are based on the idea that our core behaviour follows the assumptions that we hold. Her research team found that Diminishers and Multipliers hold radically different assumptions about the intelligence of the people that they work with. Diminishers believe that people won’t figure it out without them and Multipliers assume that people are smart, will figure it out, and that intelligence is continually developing. 

I love a good framework and this book provides an excellent framework for leadership that is not about position, level, or title. Instead, leadership is about how you show up through your desirable and undesirable behaviours. This underlying belief resonated with me; I believe that leadership shows up in a multitude of situations and that at any point in time, everyone can be a leader to someone. 

Wiseman uses research and stories to describe 5 disciplines that distinguish Multipliers from Diminishers, and she also provides practical tools and techniques. This book can be applied to your own personal leadership development or as the foundation for leadership language in your company. In the latest edition of this book, 2 new chapters were added: one on the Accidental Diminisher, how to recognize if you are one, what conditions might create this, and how to reverse course; and 2) how can you counter the impact of having a boss that is a diminisher.

Finally, I appreciated that this book acknowledges that becoming a Multiplier requires practice and skills development, that there will be setbacks along the way, and that it is okay to work on one small step at time. Wiseman’s suggestion – work the extremes; instead of trying to develop strength in all five disciplines, pick two (neutralize a weakness and top off a strength).