If you’ve ever wondered why some leaders are able to accomplish so much more than others, the answer is what author Liz Wiseman calls, “The Multiplier Effect” in her must-read leadership book “Multipliers.”

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Wiseman’s research shows that managers have a unique ability to either enhance (multiply) or detract from (diminish) performance, productivity, and engagement in their teams. And not just a little bit. Multipliers are able to get more and better results from the people who work for them, to the tune of 2X. And diminishers have the opposite effect.

This happens because multipliers more effectively use the capability and capacity of their teams. “People are smart and will figure this out” vs. “they will never figure this out without me.”

Rather than fables, Wiseman uses stories from her research (with names changed to protect the not-so-innocent) to illustrate her points. You’ll be able to recognize habits of your best – and worst – leaders in her book.

The five multiplier vs. diminisher pairs Wiseman introduces in “Multipliers” are:

  1. Talent Magnet vs. Empire Builder
  2. Liberator vs. Tyrant
  3. Challenger vs. Know-it-All
  4. Debate Maker vs. Decision Maker
  5. Investor vs. Micromanager

Talent Magnet vs. Empire Builder

Do you know a leader who everyone wants to work for? They’re known as talent magnets, in multipliers-speak. These leaders see the highest and best potential in their employees and develop and deploy that talent wisely.

Empire builders, with their scarcity mindset, hoard talent and subsequently wind up underutilizing it. Their employees don’t get opportunities to develop, and they stagnate in place.

Liberator vs. Tyrant

Liberators unleash the best in their people by requiring them to do their best work. Employees don’t fear taking risks, because they know they can learn from their mistakes.

Tyrants, on the other hand, constrain their employees who become fearful of punishment. These employees become overly cautious, and tend to put forward ideas they know their bosses already like. Creative, innovative ideas rarely move forward with teams led by tyrants.

Challenger vs. Know-it-All

Leaders who are known challengers create opportunities for their team to grow. Their teams like to take on the toughest problems in the organization, and are known for their can-do attitude.

Know-it-All managers feel like they have to know more than every person on their team. They don’t give their employees the opportunity to showcase their own knowledge and talent, and they wind up thinking small.

Debate Maker vs. Decision Maker

Spirited debate makes for interesting solutions, and it also helps multiply results. Creating space for all voices to be heard helps the team execute more efficiently because they know the issues.

Decision makers only allow a select few to inform decision making, and these managers will typically make all decisions themselves. The team then has less access to the full spectrum of knowledge in the group, and is likely to make poorer decisions.

Investor vs. Micromanager

Leaders who are known as investors give their team ownership for the team’s success. When they feel that ownership, they’re more likely to take initiative, and focus (and achieve!) great results.

On the other side of the spectrum are micromanagers, who control every facet of every project and program. Their teams don’t take initiative because they’re worried they might not do it the way the micromanager would. These teams frequently avoid solving problems, hoping their manager will come and “save” them.


Of course, no leader sets out to be a diminisher, but sometimes people unintentionally commit leadership fails. Wiseman also includes a great section on “accidental diminishers” that makes it easy to see how to course correct into multiplier behavior.

Another super-cool feature of “Multipliers” is a chapter including specific examples of how to address each of the diminisher behaviors.

“Multipliers” has an easy to understand model, research-based illustrative stories, and actionable hints for how to start being a multiplier (or become an even better one). It deserves a prominent spot on your business bookshelf.

Have you read “Multipliers”? What’s your favorite takeaway? Tell us in the comments below!