by Liz Wiseman, Greg McKeown

Troy Shu
Troy Shu
Updated at: March 12, 2024

What are the big ideas? 1. The Multiplier Effect: This book introduces the concept of the Multiplier Effect, which is the idea that great leaders can get twice or m

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What are the big ideas?

  1. The Multiplier Effect: This book introduces the concept of the Multiplier Effect, which is the idea that great leaders can get twice or more the capability out of their teams compared to Diminisher leaders. This effect is perpetual and exponentially increases the power of each investment made by a leader.
  2. Debate Makers vs Decision Makers: The book differentiates between Debate Makers and Decision Makers. Debate Makers leverage the full intelligence and capability of their resources by engaging them in debates that result in sound decisions, while Decision Makers dominate discussions without giving others room to contribute and make decisions based on their own opinions or a small inner circle.
  3. The Importance of Challenging People: The book emphasizes the importance of challenging people to discover their own genius and exceed their expectations. Great leaders have an overactive imagination, an insatiable curiosity, and see the potential in others before they do.
  4. The Multiplier Approach to Management: This book presents a unique approach to management that focuses on making people feel smart and capable, rather than "cupcakes and kisses." It is about getting more out of people by allowing them to contribute their abilities fully and creating an environment where intelligence can be freely utilized at its highest point of contribution.
  5. The Five Practices of Multipliers: The book outlines five practices that enable leaders to lead like Multipliers: Genius Maker, Debate Maker, Challenger, Talent Magnet, and Investor. Each practice has its own set of principles and tools that can be learned and practiced by anyone who aspires to lead like a Multiplier. These practices are not necessarily linear but can be introduced in any order or at any time in one's leadership journey.




  • Diminishers underutilize people and leave capability on the table.
  • Multipliers increase intelligence in people and in organizations. People actually get smarter and more capable around them.
  • Multipliers leverage their resources. Corporations can get 2X more from their resources by turning their most intelligent resources into intelligence Multipliers.
  • The Multiplier approach to management isn’t just an enlightened view of leadership. It is an approach that delivers higher performance because it gets vastly more out of people and returns to them a richly satisfying experience.
  • Multipliers make people feel smart and capable; but Multipliers aren’t about “cupcakes and kisses.”
  • The promise of this book is simple: You can be a Multiplier. You can create genius around you and receive a higher contribution from your people. You can choose to think like a Multiplier and operate like one. This book will show you how. And it will show you why it matters.
  • This book is not a prescription for a nice-guy, feel-good model of leadership. It is a hard-edged approach to management that allows people to contribute more of their abilities. It is an approach that delivers higher performance because it gets vastly more out of people and returns to them a richly satisfying experience.
  • This book will show you how to become a Multiplier, or better understand the impact that you have as a Diminisher, or perhaps as an Accidental Diminisher who has gone native in Diminisher land. The following chapters will clarify the differences between Multipliers and Diminishers, revealing what they do differently, what makes them tick, what makes them successful, and what drives others away from them—and then describe the five disciplines of the Multiplier in detail so you can apply these ideas in your own life and career journey toward becoming a true Multiplier leader who creates genius everywhere you go!


“Perhaps these leaders understood that the person sitting at the apex of the intelligence hierarchy is the genius maker, not the genius.”

“Yes, certain leaders amplify intelligence. These leaders, whom we have come to call Multipliers, create collective, viral intelligence in organizations. Other leaders act as Diminishers and deplete the organization of crucial intelligence and capability. But what is it that these Multipliers do? What is it that Multipliers do differently than Diminishers?”

“However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light. STANLEY KUBRICK”

“It isn’t how much you know that matters. What matters is how much access you have to what other people know. It isn’t just how intelligent your team members are; it is how much of that intelligence you can draw out and put to use.”

“Multipliers invoke each person’s unique intelligence and create an atmosphere of genius—innovation, productive effort, and collective intelligence.”

“Extending Intelligence Not only do Multipliers extract capability and intelligence from people, they do it in a way that extends and grows that intelligence.”

“Carol Dweck of Stanford University has conducted groundbreaking research showing that children given a series of progressively harder puzzles and praised for their intelligence stagnate for fear of reaching the limit of their intelligence. Children given the same series of puzzles but then praised for their hard work actually increased their ability to reason and to solve problems. When these children were recognized for their efforts to think, they created a belief, and then a reality, that intelligence grows.”

“The COO was speaking the language of multiplication (that is, higher growth by better utilizing the resources that already exist).”

“Better leverage and utilization of resources at the organizational level require adopting a new corporate logic. This new logic is one of multiplication.”

“Leaders rooted in the logic of multiplication believe: 1. Most people in organizations are underutilized. 2. All capability can be leveraged with the right kind of leadership. 3. Therefore, intelligence and capability can be multiplied without requiring a bigger investment. For example, when Apple Inc. needed to achieve rapid growth with flat resources in one division, they didn’t expand their sales force.”

“Resource leverage is a far richer concept than just “accomplish more with less.” Multipliers don’t necessarily get more with less. They get more by using more—more of people’s intelligence and capability.”

“Multipliers lead people by operating as Talent Magnets, whereby they attract and deploy talent to its fullest regardless of who owns the resource. People”

“The Diminisher is an Empire Builder. The Multiplier is a Talent Magnet.”

“Diminishers are Decision Makers who try to sell their decisions to others. Multipliers are Debate Makers who generate real buy-in.”

“The Diminisher is a Micromanager who jumps in and out. The Multiplier is an Investor who gives others ownership and full accountability.”

“THE 5 DISCIPLINES OF THE MULTIPLIERS Diminisher The Empire Builder: Hoards resources and underutilizes talent The Tyrant: Creates a tense environment that suppresses people’s thinking and capability The Know-It-All: Gives directives that showcase how much they know The Decision Maker: Makes centralized, abrupt decisions that confuse the organization The Micro Manager: Drives results through their personal involvement Multiplier The Talent Magnet: Attracts talented people and uses them at their highest point of contribution The Liberator: Creates an intense environment that requires people’s best thinking and work The Challenger: Defines an opportunity that causes people to stretch The Debate Maker: Drives sound decisions through rigorous debate”

“Multipliers aren’t “feel-good” managers. They look into people and find capability, and they want to access all of it. They utilize people to their fullest. They see a lot, so they expect a lot.”

“Multipliers use humor to create comfort and to spark the natural energy and intelligence of others.”

“Your biggest opportunity to inspire Multiplier leadership might be in learning to recognize your own Diminisher traits and convert these conditions into Multiplier moments.”

“MULTIPLIERS: These leaders are genius makers who bring out the intelligence in others. They build collective, viral intelligence in organizations.”



 Key Takeaways:

  • Talent Magnets are people who attract, develop, and leverage talent.
  • Talent Magnets attract A players because they give them opportunities to use their native genius.
  • Empire Builders are people who build organizations to protect their own power.
  • Empire Builders hoard resources and underutilize talent.
  • Empire Builders are costly to organizations because they don’t develop talent.
  • Empire Builders don’t remove the blockers in their organizations that hinder the growth of talent.
  • Talent Magnets have a reputation as the person A players should work for because they create environments that allow people to grow and thrive.
  • Empire Builders have a reputation as the person A players should avoid working for because they stifle growth and development.


“After several years hanging in there hoping for things to improve, he found himself stuck in a dying organization, watching his opportunities fade. Soon Brian became one of the walking dead that roam the halls of so many organizations. On the outside, these zombies go through the motions, but on the inside they have given up. They “quit and stay.” It”

“THE FOUR PRACTICES OF THE TALENT MAGNET Among the Multipliers we studied in our research, we found four active practices that together catalyze and sustain this cycle of attraction. These Talent Magnets: 1) look for talent everywhere; 2) find people’s native genius; 3) utilize people at their fullest; and 4) remove the blockers. Let”

“But if people aren’t aware of their genius, they are not in a position to deliberately utilize it. By telling people what you see, you can raise their awareness and confidence, allowing them to provide their capability more fully.”

“Finding people’s native genius and then labeling it is a direct approach to drawing more intelligence from them.”

“Ignore me as needed to get your job done.”

“Talent Magnets remove the barriers that block the growth of intelligence in their people.”

“Divide and conquer is the modus operandi of Empire Builders.”

“Empire Builders stifle their talent is by hogging the limelight for themselves.”

“The promise of a Multiplier is that they get twice the capacity, plus a growth dividend from their people as their genius expands under the leadership of the Multiplier.”



  • Tyrants create a tense environment that suppresses people’s thinking and capability. As a result, people hold back, bring up safe ideas that the leader agrees with, and work cautiously.
  • Liberators create an intense environment that requires people’s best thinking and work. As a result, people offer their best and boldest thinking and give their best effort.
  • Multipliers release intelligence into the organization so it can be freely utilized at its highest point of contribution; Tyrants hoard intelligence for themselves and use it to intimidate others.
  • Multipliers create a smooth duality of comfort and pressure; Tyrants create a jagged duality of comfort and stress.
  • Multipliers release others by restraining themselves; Tyrants expand themselves by dominating others.
  • Multipliers shift the ratio of listening to talking; Tyrants shift the ratio of talking to listening.
  • Multipliers operate consistently; Tyrants are inconsistent in their behavior toward people, often lashing out at those who are most loyal or competent or who have the least power to defend themselves.
  • Multipliers level the playing field; Tyrants elevate themselves above others in order to dominate them or make them feel small.
  • Multipliers defend the standard; Tyrants defend their ego, image, or position.
  • Multipliers distinguish best work from outcomes; Tyrants confuse them, often equating good outcomes with good work when they may be unrelated (e.g., bad results may reflect bad luck or poor execution).
  • Multipliers admit and share mistakes; Tyrants conceal mistakes or blame others for them in order to avoid accountability and learning from them (or even punish others for them).
  • Multipliers insist on learning from mistakes; Tyrants punish mistakes by criticizing, rejecting, or demoting those who make them (thereby discouraging risk taking).


“the leader’s job is to put other people on stage.”

“Ray has learned the importance of restraint in leadership. He knows that less is more, and he never wastes an opinion.”

“The highest quality of thinking cannot emerge without learning. Learning can’t happen without mistakes.”

“Those who work in a fun environment have greater productivity, interpersonal effectiveness, and call in sick less often.”

“Matthew is a smart, articulate leader. However, he often found himself frustrated and out ahead of his organization, struggling to bring a cross-functional team along with him and his ideas. He was also struggling to be heard. He had great ideas, but he was simply talking too much and taking up too much space in team meetings. I was working with him to prepare a critical leadership forum for his division. He was eagerly awaiting the opportunity to share his views about the strategy for advancing the business to the next level. Instead of encouraging him, I gave him a challenge. I gave him five poker chips, each worth a number of seconds of talk time. One was worth 120 seconds, the next three worth 90 seconds, and one was worth just 30. I suggested he limit his contribution in the meeting to five comments, represented by each of the chips. He could spend them whenever he wished, but he only had five. After the initial shock and bemusement (wondering how he could possibly convey all his ideas in five comments), he accepted the challenge. I watched as he carefully restrained himself, filtering his thoughts for only the most essential and looking for the right moment to insert his ideas. He played his poker chips deftly and achieved two important outcomes: 1) he created abundant space for others. Instead of it being Matthew’s strategy session, it became a forum for a diverse group to voice ideas and co-create the strategy, and 2) Matthew increased his own credibility and presence as a leader. By exercising some leadership restraint, everyone was heard more, including Matthew as the leader.”

“Mistakes are an essential part of progress.”



  • The best leaders are those who can help others discover their own genius and create a path for them to reach it.
  • The best leaders are those who can make the complex simple and inspire others to act.
  • The best leaders are those who use their power to amplify the intelligence of others rather than to accumulate more power for themselves.
  • Challenging people is more powerful than telling people what to do.
  • Curiosity is a key element of leadership that allows leaders to see what is possible and what is not, but also allows them to inspire others with that same curiosity.
  • It is possible for people to exceed their own expectations when they are challenged by someone who believes in them and sees their potential before they do.
  • Great leaders have an overactive imagination, an insatiable curiosity, and a deep understanding of the needs of their organization and the world around them.


“He’ll outstretch all your capabilities to make it happen. He is highly demanding, but you feel great. “You know you are signing up for something that will challenge you on a daily basis for many years to come. You will challenge yourself and all your capabilities. “Exhilarating, exhausting, challenging, gratifying.”3 “He’s a big source of energy. He is a source of power and a tail-wind for what we do.”

“changing a culture meant changing the conversation. And, to change the conversation, people would need new words, especially words about behaviors that would lead to winning results.”

“As leaders, sometimes we are most helpful when we don’t help.”

“leadership is clearly a critical force for leveraging the full capability of the organization.”

“He listened carefully and said, “Liz, I have a challenge for you. Tonight when you go home, I want you to only speak to your children in the form of questions. No orders. No statements. Just questions.” I was naturally intrigued. He said, “I think you might find that your children know exactly what they need to do.” I agreed to take the challenge. He cautioned, “Only asking questions will feel awkward, but go all the way—nothing but questions for at least an hour or two.” That night when it was time for bed, I asked my children, “What time is it?” They responded with “bedtime.” I then asked, “What do we do at bedtime?” They responded with, “We get on our pajamas and we brush our teeth.” I continued the question routine with, “Well then, who is ready for bed?” They scampered to get on their pajamas and brush their teeth. I stood in the hallway in shock. The rest of the evening proceeded in a similar fashion, with me asking them leading questions and them responding with remarkable understanding and eagerness to act. I reported this amazing experience to Brian the next day at work. He encouraged me to keep it up, not necessarily asking questions 100 percent of the time, but beginning to settle into a comfortable level. I did this and found that it transformed the way I operated as a parent. And it most certainly spilled over to how I managed at work.”



  • Decision Makers don’t utilize the full potential of their resources, often leaving capability on the table, and they make decisions based on their own opinions or a small inner circle.
  • Debate Makers leverage the full intelligence and capability of their resources by engaging them in debates that result in sound decisions that people understand and can execute efficiently.
  • Becoming a Debate Maker requires a leader to see his or her role as someone who asks the right question and facilitates rigorous debate rather than being the one with all the answers.
  • To become a Debate Maker, one must be able to frame an issue for debate, spark a debate by asking hard questions, demanding rigor, and asking each person for their views, evidence, and opinions.
  • The three steps to becoming a Debate Maker are: 1) frame the issue; 2) spark the debate; and 3) drive a sound decision.
  • Unexpected findings from our research include: 1) Decision Makers can dominate discussions without giving others room to contribute; 2) Debate Makers can have strong opinions but facilitate debate that creates room for other people’s views; and 3) Debate Makers are not only consensus-driven leaders but are also equally comfortable making final decisions when necessary.


“It is better to debate a decision without settling it than settling a decision without debating it. JOSEPH JOUBERT”

“Victor Hugo once said, “There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”

“At first there were opinions, but the CEO wanted data and wanted to know what the facts proved. The executive team began to dig into the facts in a summary analysis. Again the CEO dug deeper. He asked the group to go country by country, poring over the data to look for an answer to the questions. As one executive who was present said, “Nobody got away with their own opinions.” The group wrestled with the issue until they finally concluded that they didn’t have enough information yet to make a clear decision, and they identified what additional data they needed. This company’s leader kept the debate going by demanding rigor and sound decision making. According to one of his management team members, Jim Barks-dale, former CEO of Netscape, was well known for saying, “If you don’t have any facts, we’ll just use my opinion.”

“CREATE SAFETY FOR BEST THINKING (THE YIN) Share their view last after hearing other people’s views Encourage others to take an opposing stand Encourage all points of view Focus on the facts Depersonalize the issues and keep it unemotional Look beyond organizational hierarchy and job titles DEMAND RIGOR (THE YANG) Ask the hard questions Challenge the underlying assumptions Look for evidence in the data Attack the issues, not the people Ask “why” repeatedly until the root cause is unearthed Equally debate both sides of the issue”

“To lead on purpose, we must understand how we diminish by accident.”



  • Multipliers deliver more than twice the capability out of their teams than Diminishers, which is the equivalent of adding an additional 500 people to a Serial Multiplier’s workforce over the course of their career.
  • Serial Multipliers are addicted to growth, not praise.
  • Multipliers invest in other leaders and grow their capacity for independence so that they can continue to be invested in again and again.
  • The Multiplier effect is perpetual and exponentially increases the power of each investment made by a Serial Multiplier.


“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea. ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPÉRY”

“Jae reflected on the leader’s role: “You can jump in and teach and coach, but then you have to give the pen back. When you give that pen back, your people know they are still in charge.” When something is off the rails, do you take over or do you invest? When you take the pen to add your ideas, do you give it back? Or does it stay in your pocket? Multipliers invest in the success of others. They may jump in to teach and share their ideas, but they always return to accountability. When leaders fail to return ownership, they create dependent organizations. This is the way of the Diminisher. They jump in, save the day, and drive results through their personal involvement. When leaders return the pen, they cement the accountability for action where it should be. This creates organizations that are free from the nagging need of the leader’s rescue.”

“When leaders teach, they invest in their people’s ability to solve and avoid problems in the future.”

“When leaders define clear ownership and invest in others, they have sown the seeds of success and earned the right to hold people accountable.”

“Don’t just identify the problem; find a solution.”

“There are risks in every action. Every success has the seed of some failure.”



  • We are all geniuses.
  • The Multiplier Effect is real.
  • The Accidental Diminisher is the default setting for most of us, and it can be changed.
  • The Multiplier Effect is a choice—a way of thinking, a way of being in the world, a way of leading that enables others to become geniuses.
  • There are five core practices that enable leaders to lead like Multipliers: 1) Genius Maker, 2) Debate Maker, 3) Challenger, 4) Talent Magnet, and 5) Investor.
  • Each practice has its own set of principles and tools that can be learned and practiced by anyone who aspires to lead like a Multiplier.
  • The practices are not necessarily linear but can be introduced in any order or at any time in one’s leadership journey.
  • We can all learn to lead like Multipliers by starting where we are, practicing one practice at a time, and gradually building our leadership gestalt over time.
  • As you practice these ideas, you will become more fluent in them and find yourself leading more like a Multiplier without even thinking about it.
  • You will become more confident in your ability to draw out the intelligence and capability of others, which will make you a better leader and colleague in every aspect of your life—at work, at home, or on the playing field—and help you achieve extraordinary results with less effort than ever before!
  • Your people will thrive as never before as they discover their own genius and begin to multiply their own intelligence—and you will have fun along the way!


“the role of leader has shifted, too—moving away from a model where the manager knows, directs, and tells and toward one where the leader sees, provokes, asks, and unleashes the capabilities of others.”

“the senior inventory managers typically lock themselves in a room and find a Band-Aid tool that satisfies the immediate request. Inevitably, the Band-Aid comes loose and those people uninvolved and underutilized in the decision-making process were then overworked trying to force the plan to work. But this time it was different. The entire inventory management team had just signed up for the 30-Day Challenge and selected the Debate Maker discipline for their work. This time, when the urgent request came from senior management, the group prepared for a thorough debate to find a sustainable solution. They brought in senior planners and the IT group (who usually had to scramble after the fact), who could give practical input to the feasibility of any suggested solution. They framed the issues and set ground rules for debate, including no barriers to the thinking. The team challenged their assumptions and in the end developed a means of in-season forecasting that served the new demands. The solution they arrived at started as a wild idea, but with input from IT, it became a plausible reality.”

“Exhausting but exhilarating” captures what people continually told us it was like to work for a Multiplier. One woman said, “It was exhausting but I was always ready to do it again. It is not a burnout experience—it is a build-up experience.” As you become more of a Multiplier, people will flock to you because you will be “the boss to work for.” You will become a Talent Magnet, drawing in and developing talent while providing extraordinary returns to the company as well as to the individuals who work for you.”

“It has been said that after meeting with the great British Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, you left feeling he was the smartest person in the world, but after meeting with his rival Benjamin Disraeli, you left thinking you were the smartest person.1 —BONO”


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