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The 100% solution: Using all the intelligence in the room

· Leadership,Coaching,Multipliers

Have you ever worked for someone who made you feel really smart? Who saw what you were good at and encouraged you to make the most of your talents? And then you responded and achieved things you never thought possible? You were working for a Multiplier.


Have you ever worked for someone who make you feel stupid, and then you found yourself doing dumb things, so much so that you really started to doubt your own ability? You, like many others, were working for a Diminisher.

In Liz Wiseman’s book “Multipliers – How the best leaders make everyone smarter”, Liz shares her research of how Multiplier leaders get X2 the intelligence from their people than Diminishers. Behind this assertion is some solid research: participants in the research were asked to think about when a leader diminished them and what affect that had on their intelligence. The research found that Diminishers on average got 48% of the intelligence from people. When working with a Diminisher people felt incapable and often dumbed down by their leader.

On the other hand, the research found that Multipliers on average got 95% of the intelligence from their people. Their leadership amplified the intelligence of others and people felt capable and smarter working for these leaders, achieving results they did not know they were capable of.


In my own experience of facilitating Multiplier Leadership workshops in Asia Pacific I found that the delta of Multipliers and Diminishers was even larger. With Diminishers results as low as 30% and Multipliers often at 100%.


The implication of this is profound for the potential performance of our workforces. There is at our disposal a 100% solution. Liz posits that when leaders lead like a Multiplier the organization can “double the workforce for free”. What this means is there is a latent potential in our organizations that is being left on the table. To access this, we need a new way of leading. In Multipliers Liz points to a new mind set for leaders to think about themselves as “genius makers”.

The problem is that for many of us our current mind set is stuck in the paradigm that we got to our leadership position because we are smart and experts in what we do. The trouble with this paradigm in today’s volatile, uncertain, complex and disruptive world is that what we know won’t give us the answers we need. The truth is there are few known answers to massive disruption and continuous change going on in all organizations around the globe.

However, genius is everywhere in our organizations. When we bring it out in others by leading like a Multiplier it provides the opportunity to create new solutions, innovate and quickly adapt. If we grasp this new paradigm of leading like a Multiplier our focus and assumptions shift radically. We see our role as bringing out the smart thinking in others, identifying their unique genius and putting that to work on the hardest problems. This is the 100% solution that gives us hope for our organizations to adapt and respond to any challenge no matter what.

With this understanding there is no logic to staying in the current leadership paradigm, where leaders are expected to have all the answers because it shuts down the intelligence of the organization. This results in micromanagement, talent-hoarding, making decisions in isolation, stressful environments, and a deep sense of frustration all around.

Once leaders wake up to the new paradigm of Multiplying and commit to start on this journey their attention shifts from their own capability to a deep curiosity of the performance potential of those around them. What are my people capable of? What hard challenges can I put in front of them? What if they can create the impossible? It is here we find the answers. As a Multiplier we see we have all the resources we need to lead our organizations. We see the genius potential in others and if we put that to work we can double or even treble the capacity of our workforce for free.

Judith Jamieson is Director Thrive At Work offers Multiplier Leadership programmes in New Zealand.