Jiajun Yao

Stay hungry, Stay foolish.

Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter

When you ask people if they want to be multipliers who make surrounding people better or diminishers who make everyone worse, most people will say that they want to be multipliers. However, in reality, many people are accidental diminishers in some aspects. Being a true multiplier requires a multiplier mindset and certain approaches. This book tells you what multipliers are and how to become one.

Multipliers are leaders who make people better and more capable. They can access and revitalize the intelligence in the people around them. They are genius makers by accessing and multiplying the genius in others. They have a growth mindset, which is a belief that basic qualities like intelligence and ability can be cultivated through effort. In contrast, diminishers drain intelligence and capability out of the people around them.

Multiplier Mindset

What people believe affects their behaviors. As a result, we need to have a multiplier mindset first in order to become one. The fundamental assumption a multiplier has is that people are smart. They discover the genius in people by asking “how is this person smart?”. Multipliers believe that:

  1. People are smart and will figure things out.
  2. If I can find someone’s genius, I can put them to work.
  3. People’s best thinking must be given, not taken.
  4. People get smarter by being challenged.
  5. With enough minds, we can figure it out.

Challenger vs Know-it-all

Since multipliers believe that people get smarter by being challenged, they ask really insightful and interesting questions that make people think. They don’t limit the team to what they know, they push their teams beyond their own knowledge and that of the organization. Even if they have the answer, the don’t just give them. Instead, they just provide enough information to provoke thinking and to help people discover and see the opportunity for themselves. What’s more important as a leader is not having the right answer but asking the right questions.

Debate Maker vs Decision Maker

Multipliers believe that with enough minds, we can figure it out. As a result, they like collective debate. Through debate, they challenge and stretch what people know, thus making the organization smarter over time and creating the organizational will to execute the decisions made. In contrast, when people execute an undebated decision, they turn to debating the soundness of a decision rather than executing it.

Liberator vs Tyrant

Multipliers believe that people’s best thinking must be given, not taken. They provide a safe environment for people to think and make mistakes. The highest quality of thinking cannot emerge without learning and learning can’t happen without mistakes. Intimidation and fear rarely produce truly great work. Speaking of creating a safe environment, there is no easier way to invite experimentation and learning than to share stories about multipliers' own mistakes.

While multiplier gives space and safe environment, they also demand the best work. It’s a fair trade. They create an intense environment that requires people’s best thinking and their best work. They generate pressue, but they don’t generate stress. Requiring people’s best work is different from insisting on desired outcomes. Stress is created when people are expected to produce outcomes that are beyond their control. But they feel positive pressure when they are held to their best work. Multipliers distinguish best work from outcomes.

Investor vs Micro-manager

Multipliers believe that people are smart and will figure things out. So they operate as investors, giving ownership that keeps rolling back to other people. As investors, they define ownership, invest resources and hold people accountable. When they teach, they invest in their people’s ability to solve and avoid problems in the future. In the end, multipliers enable others to operate independently by giving other people ownership for results and investing in their success. They create organizations that can perform and win, not only without them on the field, but long after their direct influence is felt.

Talent Magnet vs Empire Builder

Multipliers believe that if I can find someone’s genius, I can put them to work. They are like magnets that draw in talent and develop it to its fullset. They look for talent everywhere, find people’s native genius, utilize people at their fullsets and remove the blockers. Multipliers not only notice people’s talent, they label it for them. By telling people what they see, they raise people’s awareness and confidence, allowing them to provide their capability more fully. What’s more, once they uncover the native genius of others, they look for opportunities that demand that capability.