Back to news

How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Around Them Smarter

Liz Wiseman suggests that it’s the most encouraging team leaders that set the speed for an entire company. She calls these people Multipliers as it’s their pace which enables a business to grow.

We’ve heard it all before: You can only go as fast as your slowest player.

However, in business, this idea can be turned on its head – it’s these Multipliers, as Wiseman calls them, who set the speed – and as a business you will go as fast as the inspirational pace that these people set. It’s important to be a strong and inspiring leader (and to employ these people) for several reasons, but influencing, encouraging and therefore multiplying the growth of the business around you is the most important of all.

Within any company there should be a leader in a position in which to inspire others – someone that other team members learn from and excel under and those that inspire others to learn and to succeed.


Liz Wiseman went on to distinguish the attributes of these people:

  • They use their intellect to make people around them smarter
  • Other members of staff and the company in general find that they grow around their leaders
  • They have an enthusiasm for asking questions
  • They set the tools for finding the answers to those questions
  • Encourage those around them to want to learn more
  • The suggested ways in which you can inspire your people do to their best work consistently
  • Leaders know how to utilize latent talent and discretionary energy
  • They do this by asking for more from people  (in instances where people are overworked yet under utlilized)

For Wiseman, the most important skill of a leader is not what they know, but how they access knowledge from people who know more than them. A Multiplier doesn’t have the answers to everything – no one does. However, they will do their utmost to find out the answers and to share this knowledge with others.

CK Prahalaof, one of the world’s top business consultants, suggests the same thing – that the new economic reality is leveraging the talent which already lies within your organisation. He proposes that you don’t have to go outside to fuel your growth. By creating pressure but no stress (in other words, setting expectations but not unrealistic ones), you can scale your organisation without the need to increase your resources – and under today’s economic pressures, this makes even more sense.

Wiseman also outlined that on the other end of the scale from Multipliers, we have the Diminishers:

  • They require twice the resources
  • Limit the growth of your company
  • Cost just as much money and are less profitable

Managing these people is a matter of how you manage the growth and scale of your business. You need to get the most value out of the people you have (without terrorising them) before you outsource. You also need to have a clear idea of who in your business is a Multiplier and who is a Diminisher.

The main differences will be that one will see the genius in others and use it, will be more intellectually curious, will listen, will adapt to new situations and will create an environment in which well thought-out risks can be taken.

Which are you?