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Authors: Liz Wiseman,Greg McKeown

Tags: #Business & Economics, #Management

Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter (2 page)

BOOK: Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter
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Vikram said, “I was a rock star around George. He
me. Because of him I transitioned from an individual contributor to big-time manager. Around him, I felt like a smart SOB—everyone felt like that. He got 100 percent from me—it was exhilarating.” George’s team
echoed the same sentiments: “We are not sure exactly what George did, but we knew we were smart and we were winning. Being on this team was the highlight of our careers.”

George grew people’s intelligence by engaging it. He wasn’t the center of attention and didn’t worry about how smart he looked. What George worried about was extracting the smarts and maximum effort from each member of his team. In a typical meeting, he spoke only about 10 percent of the time, mostly just to “crisp up” the problem statement. He would then back away and give his team space to figure out an answer. Often the ideas his team would generate were worth millions. George’s team drove the business to achieve outstanding revenue growth and to deliver the profit bridge that allowed Intel to enter the microprocessor business.

Manager #2: The Idea Killer

Several years later, Vikram moved out of George’s group and went to work for a second division manager who had been the architect of one of the early microprocessors. This second manager was a brilliant scientist who had now been promoted into management to run the plant that produced the chips. He was highly intelligent by every measure and left his mark on everyone and everything around him.

The problem was that this leader did all the thinking. Vikram said, “He was very, very smart. But people had a way of shutting down around him. He just killed our ideas. In a typical team meeting, he did about 30 percent of the talking and left little space for others. He gave a lot of feedback—most of it was about how bad our ideas were.”

This manager made all the decisions himself or with a single confidant. He would then announce those decisions to the organization. Vikram said, “You always knew he would have an answer for everything. He had really strong opinions and put his energy into selling his ideas to others and convincing them to execute on the details. No one else’s opinion mattered.”

This manager hired intelligent people, but they soon realized that they didn’t have permission to think for themselves. Eventually, they would quit or threaten to quit. Ultimately Intel hired a second-in-command to work alongside this manager to counter the intelligence drain on the organization. But even then, Vikram said, “My job was more like cranking than creating. He really only got from me about 50 percent of what I had to offer. And I would
work for him again!”

Diminisher or Multiplier?

The second leader was so absorbed in his own intelligence that he stifled others and diluted the organization’s crucial intelligence and capability. George brought out the intelligence in others and created collective, viral intelligence in his organization. One leader was a genius. The other was a genius maker.

It isn’t how much you know that matters. What matters is how much access you have to what other people know. It isn’t just how intelligent your team members are; it is how much of that intelligence you can draw out and put to use.

We’ve all experienced these two types of leaders. What type of leader are you right now? Are you a genius, or are you a genius maker?


Multipliers are genius makers. Everyone around them gets smarter and more capable. People may not become geniuses in a traditional sense, but Multipliers invoke each person’s unique intelligence and create an atmosphere of genius—innovation, productive effort, and collective intelligence.

In studying Multipliers and Diminishers, we learned that at the most fundamental level, they get dramatically different results from their people, they hold a different logic and set of assumptions about
people’s intelligence, and they do a small number of things very differently. Let’s first examine the impact of the Multipliers—why people get smarter and more capable around them and why they get twice as much from their resources as do the Diminishers. We call this the Multiplier effect.

Because Multipliers are leaders who look beyond their own genius and focus their energy on extracting and extending the genius of others, they get more from their people. They don’t get a little more; they get vastly more.

2X Multiplier Effect

The impact of a Multiplier can be seen in two ways: first, from the point of view of the people they work with and second, from the point of view of the organizations they shape and create. Let’s begin by examining how Multipliers influence the people who work around them.

Extracting Intelligence

Multipliers extract all of the capability from people. In our interviews, people told us that Multipliers got
a lot
more out of them than Diminishers. We asked each person to identify the percentage of their capability that a Diminisher received from them. The numbers typically ranged between 20 and 50 percent. When we asked them to identify the percentage of their capability that the Multiplier extracted, the numbers typically fell between 70 and 100 percent.
When we compared the two sets of data, we were amazed to find that Multipliers got 1.97 times more. That represents an almost twofold increase or a 2X effect. After concluding our formal research, we continued to pose this question in workshops and with management teams, asking people to reflect on their past Multiplier and Diminisher bosses. Across industries and in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, we continued to find that Multipliers get at least two times more from people.

What could you accomplish if you could get twice as much from your people?

The reason for the difference is that when people work with Multipliers, they hold nothing back. They offer the very best of their thinking, creativity, and ideas. They give more than their jobs require and volunteer their discretionary effort, energy, and resourcefulness. They actively search for more valuable ways to contribute. They hold themselves to the highest standards. They give 100 percent of their abilities to the work—and then some.

Extending Intelligence

Not only do Multipliers extract capability and intelligence from people, they do it in a way that extends and grows that intelligence. In our interviews people often said Multipliers accessed
than 100 percent of their capability. They would say, “Oh, they got 120 percent from me.” Initially, I pushed back, citing that getting more than 100 percent is mathematically impossible. But we continued to hear people claim Multipliers got more than 100 percent from them. Greg pushed this issue, suggesting this pattern was an important data point. We began to ask: Why would people insist that intelligence Multipliers got more out of them than they actually had?

Our research confirmed that Multipliers not only access people’s current capability, they stretch it. They get more from people than they knew they had to give. People reported actually getting smarter around Multipliers. The implication is that intelligence itself can grow.

This is an insight that is corroborated by other recent research into the extensible nature of intelligence. Consider a few recent studies:

  • Carol Dweck of Stanford University has conducted ground-breaking research that found that children given a series of progressively harder puzzles and praised for their intelligence stagnate for fear of reaching the limit of their intelligence. Children given the same series of puzzles but then
    praised for their hard work actually increased their ability to reason and to solve problems. When these children were recognized for their efforts to think, they created a belief, and then a reality, that intelligence grows.
  • Eric Turkheimer of the University of Virginia has found that bad environments suppress children’s IQs. When poor children were adopted into upper-middle-class households, their IQs rose by 12 to 18 points.
  • Richard Nisbett of the University of Michigan has reviewed studies that show: 1) students’ IQ levels drop over summer vacation, and 2) IQ levels across society have steadily increased over time. The average IQ of people in 1917 would amount to a mere 73 on today’s IQ test.

After reading these studies, I took Greg’s advice and recalculated the data from our research interviews at face value, using the literal percentage of capability that people claimed Multipliers received from them. When factoring this excess capability (the amount beyond 100 percent) into our calculations, we found that Multipliers actually get 2.1 times more than Diminishers. What if you not only got 2X more from your team—what if you could get everything they had to give plus a 5 to 10 percent growth bonus because they were getting smarter and more capable while working for you?

This 2X effect is a result of the deep leverage Multipliers get from their resources. When you extrapolate the 2X Multiplier effect to the organization, you begin to see the strategic relevance. Simply said, resource leverage creates competitive advantage.

Resource Leverage

When Tim Cook, COO of Apple Inc., opened a budget review in one sales division, he reminded the management team that the strategic
imperative was revenue growth. Everyone expected this but they were astounded when he asked for the growth
providing additional headcount. The sales executive at the meeting said he thought the revenue target was attainable but only
more headcount. He suggested they follow a proven linear model of incremental headcount growth, insisting that everyone knows that more revenue means you need more headcount. The two executives continued the conversation for months, never fully able to bridge their logic. The sales executive was speaking the language of addition (that is, higher growth by adding more resources). The COO was speaking the language of multiplication (that is, higher growth by better utilizing the resources that already exist).

The Logic of Addition

This is the dominant logic that has existed in corporate planning: that resources will be added when new requests are made. Senior executives ask for more output and the next layer of operational leaders request more headcount. The negotiations go back and forth until everyone settles on a scenario such as: 20 percent more output with 5 percent more resources. Neither the senior executive nor the operational leaders are satisfied.

Operational leaders entrenched in the logic of resource allocation and addition argue:

  • 1.
    Our people are overworked.
  • 2.
    Our best people are the most maxed out.
  • 3.
    Therefore, accomplishing a bigger task requires the addition of more resources.

This is the logic of addition. It seems persuasive but, importantly, it ignores the opportunity to more deeply leverage existing resources. The logic of addition creates a scenario in which people become both
underutilized. To argue for allocation without giving attention to resource leverage is an expensive corporate norm.

BOOK: Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter
9.6Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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