The Multiplier Effect, Liz Wiseman


Liz Wiseman is president of The Wiseman Group. A former executive at Oracle Corporation, she served as Oracle's global leader for Human Resource Development for 17 years. Here are excerpts from her talk, "The Multiplier Effect" at the Willow Creek Association's Global Leadership Summit. Included are some quotes from her book (with Greg McKeown), Multipliers: How The Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter.


  • These are leaders who use their intelligence to amplify the capability of people around them.
  • Multipliers don't necessarily get more with less. They get more by using more--more of people's intelligence and capability.
  • The goal of a multiplier is not to multiply himself/herself, but to multiply those around him/her.
  • Multipliers identify and champion key characteristics of the people with whom they work (e.g. "John you are a fantastic idea guy," "Sally, you are great at helping us challenge our processes to make them better.")
  • The multiplier believes the team is smart and will figure it out.
  • Become more of a multiplier by asking questions to empower your team.

5 Disciplines of the Multiplier

  1. They are talent magnets: they attract and optimize talent.
  2. They are liberators: they create intensity that requires the best thinking of the team.
  3. They are challengers: they define opportunities that cause people to stretch.
  4. They are debate makers: they drive sound decisions through rigorous debate.
  5. They are investors: they instill ownership and accountability.


  • These are people who lead organizations or teams that, despite having smart people, seemed unable to do what it needed to reach its goals. Multipliers, page 230
  • These leaders are absorbed in their own intelligence, stifle others, and deplete the organization of crucial intelligence and capability. Multipliers, page 30
  • Leaders can be unintentional or accidental diminishers, i.e. we rob our people and our organizations by unknowingly sucking energy, optimism, and hope from the people with whom we work.
  • Are you a stress troll (my way or the highway) or a trust guru (let the team dream and go)?

5 Ways Diminishers Operate

  1. They are empire builders: they hoard resources and underutilize talent.
  2. They are tyrants: they create tense environments that suppress thinking, creativity, and capability.
  3. They are know-it-all's: they give directives that showcase how much they know.
  4. They are "the decision maker": they make centralized, abrupt decisions that confuse the organization.
  5. They are micro managers: they drive results through their personal involvement.

Great Quotes

  • It has been said that after meeting with the great British Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, you left feeling like the smartest person in the world, but after meeting with his rival Benjamin Disraeli, you left thinking you were the smartest person. Bono
  • There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. Victor Hugo
  • Organizations are replete with under-challenged masses. Liz Wiseman
  • I not only use all the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow. Woodrow Wilson
  • Ignore me as needed to get your job done. Corporate VP

Multipliers is much more than a great read. It is a great tool for any leader who wants to get better at bringing out the best in others. The research is solid, the concepts are clear, the book is really well indexed.

"The wise lay up knowledge." Proverbs 10:14

Just posted: This week's Servant Leadership Blog from the World Leader's Group is entitled, "Five Things Strong Leaders Do." You can click here to get it.