Coach: Good Managers Appreciate Others' Genius

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If you're lucky, you've had a manager who inspires you to do your best and brings out talent you never knew you had. Liz Wiseman talks to Renee Montagne about her new book Multipliers. Wiseman is president of The Wiseman Group, and is a leadership coach for corporate executives.


If you're lucky, you've had or have a manager who inspires you to do your best, brings out the talent you never knew you had. Leadership consultant Liz Wiseman calls these managers multipliers. It's the name of her new book. And as part of the series on managers and managing, we called her to find out more.

Ms. LIZ WISEMAN (Co-author, "Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter"): This book addresses a frustration that we've all experienced, that we are smart and we're capable around some people, but we get shut down around others. And the book started with this observation. I had worked for Oracle for a number of years, and I ran the Corporate University there. And I had a chance to work very closely with the executive team. And what they had in common is they were all brilliant. But not all of them created brilliance around them.

Some of these leaders just shut down intelligence in other people. It was like for them to be smart, other people couldn't be.

MONTAGNE: Now, of course, you talked to a lot of people about their managers and, I guess managers about their managing. Give us an example of someone that must listeners would know, who would qualify as what you call a multiplier.

Ms. WISEMAN: Probably a leader that people would know would be Bill Campbell. Bill Campbell is the former CEO of Intuit. And Bill says I may be a multiplier now, but I began my career as one of the great diminishers of all time. And Bill...

MONTAGNE: Which is the opposite of the Multipliers, as you have it.

Ms. WISEMAN: It is. This is the person who drains intelligence from people around them. And Bill proceeded to tell me about his early career, where he told everyone what to do. He micromanaged. He was in all the details in everyone else's business. And Bill got one of these wakeup calls, where one of the members of his team came to him and she said, Bill, we want to work for you. We really believe in what this organization is doing. But we can't do our jobs because you're telling everyone what to do. We need space. And this was the wakeup call where Bill realized he needed to step back, and he became known as someone who really appreciated the genius of other people.

MONTAGNE: Are you saying, though, that people can really change their game when it comes to managing other people? Some of this seems like it would go rather deep - micromanaging, for instance.

Ms. WISEMAN: Absolutely. What we had found when we did our research in studying these multipliers and diminishers is that at the most elementary level, they hold very different beliefs about intelligence and the capabilities of others.

Diminishers tend to hold this belief that there's only a few smart people out there, and that people will never figure it out without them, which creates a kind of dependency on them. It incents them to be a micromanager.

Multipliers have, really, the opposite belief. They see all sorts of smart people, all types of intelligence, and they hold this belief. It's almost like a ticker tape that just sort of runs across their mind, and it's that people are smart and will figure it out.

And so we found that people who just show up to work every day with an assumption that people are smart and are going to figure it out can very quickly start to lead like a multiplier.

MONTAGNE: Liz Wiseman is the author, with Greg McKeown, of "Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter."

Thanks very much for joining us.

Ms. WISEMAN: Thank you.

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