The 5 Types of Multipliers and How They Bring Out the Best in Others

I recently read an excellent book by Liz Wiseman entitled Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter. You may recall that several weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about harnessing the power of collective intelligence in the workplace. Today, I want to expand on those ideas and introduce the 5 types of multipliers and what they do that allows their organizations to flourish.

Wiseman defines multipliers as “genius makers that bring out the intelligence in others. They build collective, viral intelligence in organizations,” while diminishers do just the opposite. Diminishers are “absorbed in their own intelligence, stifle others, and deplete the organization of crucial intelligence and capability.” Obviously, we all want to strive to be multipliers and to hire them as well. But how can you identify a multiplier, and more importantly, how can you determine whether or not you are currently exhibiting these qualities in the workplace?

According to Wiseman, there are 5 types of multipliers:

  • Talent Magnets
  • Liberators
  • Challengers
  • Debate Makers
  • Investors

This week, I’ll talk about the first two types–talent magnets and liberators. Next week, I’ll go over the characteristics of challengers, debate makers, and investors.

A talent magnet is exactly what the name suggests—a person who always seems to attract the best and brightest individuals. They see potential where others may not and they help it grow. If you’ve ever worked under a talent magnet, you probably felt that they saw something unique in you and that they helped you to reach your full potential by identifying your core strengths and directing them in ways that allowed you to be successful.  Talent magnets are always on the lookout for new talent, utilize their employees to the fullest, and help eliminate obstacles to success.

Liberators help set the stage for success. They focus on creating the optimal conditions for their employees to generate ideas, learn new skills, solve problems, work collaboratively, and accomplish difficult tasks. Another way of defining liberators would be to call them gardeners: they make sure that their seedlings have just enough water, sun and fertilizer to grow strong. Liberators are also teachers, always encouraging others to develop new skill sets.

In this series, I don’t want to suggest that multipliers always fit neatly into one of these 5 types. In fact, good leaders will embody these types to greater or lesser extents depending on what the situation calls for. It’s important to be flexible and to be able to judge when certain strategies are more useful than others.

So how can you be sure that you’re a multiplier and not a diminisher? The truth is, we’ve all probably acted as diminishers at some point. So in upcoming blog posts, I’ll also be discussing how you can take conscious steps to become a multiplier. Stay tuned!

Are you currently working with a multiplier? Do you feel that there are too many diminishers in your organization? I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me via my website, LinkedIn and Twitter. I look forward to hearing from you!

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