Strong leaders build leadership skills at all levels (“leadership is an action, not a position”) and share ownership by bringing out the best in people on their team and throughout their organization. Unfortunately, these leaders are rare. More common – and often unaware – are stressed out managers who take on too much while reducing the roles, responsibilities, confidence, and capabilities of people around them.

Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown contrast these two types of leadership/management styles as Multipliers and Diminishers. Based on studying 150 leaders in 35 companies with intensive 360 degree analysis (confidential behavior surveys of direct reports, peers, and boss.) Their Harvard Business Review article “Managing Yourself: Bringing Out the Best in Your People” provides an excellent summary of this work.

Wiseman and McKeown identify five types of Diminishers and Multipliers:


  •  The Empire BuilderHoards resources and underutilizes talent;
  •  The TyrantCreates a tense environment that suppresses people’s thinking and capabilities;
  • The Know-It-AllGives directives that demonstrate how much he or she knows;
  • The Decision MakerMakes centralized, abrupt decisions that confuse the organization;
  • The Micro-managerDrives results through his or her personal involvement.


  • The Talent MagnetAttracts talented people and uses them to their highest potential;
  • The LiberatorCreates an intense environment that requires people’s best thinking and work;
  • The ChallengerDefines an opportunity that causes people to stretch their thinking and behaviors;
  • The Debate MakerDrives sound decisions by cultivating rigorous debate among team members;
  • The InvestorGives other people ownership of results and invests in their success.

The authors provide a very useful Multipliers web site built around their new book, Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter. An especially practical tool from their study is “Are You an Accidental Diminisher? This 10 item survey helps to cut through the problem so many managers have in recognizing their inconsistencies between talking the talk of coaching, developing, and growing people and actually walking the walk. When visiting the site, click on “Meet the Multipliers” for inspiring profiles of some of the top leaders in their study and the dominant type of Multiplier approach they use.

Take a Day to Multiply Your Multiplier Skills

Coaching, developing, engaging, and energizing individual and team performance is a key theme woven throughout my Leading @ the Speed of Change workshops. This mind and skill set clearly distinguishes managing things and leading people. Many supervisors and managers diminish and stifle people by managing their “human assets” as things.

I am delivering a rare one-day open/public Leading @ the Speed of Change  workshop in Halifax on September 24 and Calgary on September 29 and Vancouver on October 1. If you live in one of these cities come out and join us – and bring your management team. If you’re out of town – or the country – here’s a perfect chance to visit these great Canadian cities at a beautiful time of year! We’ll share our experiences and multiply our skills together!