Becoming a Multiplier: 5 Ways to Accelerate Success

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Multipliers" by Liz Wiseman. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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How do you become a Multiplier? Is it possible to change from a Diminisher into a Multiplier?

Most people aren’t Multipliers or Diminishers, they fall somewhere in between. However, anybody can become one. If you want to work on becoming a Multiplier, here are five accelerators to make the process happen faster.

Keep reading for more information on becoming a Multiplier.

How to Become a Multiplier

There are two types of leaders: Multipliers and Diminishers. Multipliers use their intelligence to bring out the intelligence and ability of everyone else and Diminishers rely on their own intelligence.

The question is: Is becoming a Multiplier possible? The answer is a resounding yes. Multiplier and Diminisher aren’t either-or identities; they’re two extremes on a continuum. Most leaders fall somewhere in between and can move in either direction, and even the strongest Diminisher can change. 

It’s important to note that you’ll learn to become a Multiplier much faster if you make a conscious effort to change and employ the following five accelerators:

Accelerator #1: Change Your Assumptions

To become a Multiplier, you can’t just find a Multiplier and copy what they do. Instead, you have to start thinking like a Multiplier and adopt the assumptions that people are intelligent, capable, and have the potential to improve. This is for two reasons:

  1. Behavior stems from assumptions. Conscious assumptions are stored in the same part of the brain that stores unconscious habits.
  2. Assumptions are self-fulfilling prophecies. If you assume your team is smart, your behavior will allow them to demonstrate that they are smart, proving you right.

Example: Jyanthi

Imagine that you’ve been asked to appoint someone from your team to a cross-divisional task force and you recommended Jyanthi.

If you were a Diminisher, you might approach this scenario as follows: Assuming Jyanthi won’t be able to figure anything out herself, you use her as an information-gatherer. After every meeting, she reports back to you, and then you tell her what to do. She has no authority, so she doesn’t contribute to meetings and avoids influencing decisions. Ultimately, this will result in the task force leader suspecting your division isn’t engaged.

If you were a Multiplier, you might approach this scenario as follows: You tell Jyanthi you appointed her because you think she’s smart and her particular skills would benefit the task force. You tell her that the job is a big responsibility, but you think she can handle it and that you’ll be available to help. Ultimately, this will result in the task force leader thinking that your team is talented and in Jyanthi’s learning and engagement.

Accelerator #2: Strengthen Your Strengths and Weaken Your Weaknesses

There are five disciplines involved with multiplication (covered in Part 2), but you don’t need to master all five of them to be a Multiplier. According to the author’s research, most Multipliers had mastered only three disciplines and were neutral (in other words, not in the Diminisher range) in the others.

Therefore, to become a Multiplier, it’s most effective to:

  • Strengthen one of the disciplines you’re already good at. After learning about the disciplines, determine which is your strongest and focus on developing it rather than diluting your effort by trying to improve at multiple disciplines at once.
  • Neutralize the discipline you’re weakest at. You don’t need to turn your weaknesses into strengths—that takes a lot of work and your time would be better spent working at something you can make a more substantial improvement in. Instead, just aim to become not bad.

Accelerator #3: Do 30-Day Experiments

Your practice of Multiplier behaviors will be most effective if you experiment with individual behaviors for 30-day periods. This is for three reasons:

  1. You’ll quickly receive feedback.
  2. You’ll get regular opportunities to reassess. According to psychology research, it takes around two months to form a habit, so 30 days gives you a chance to reassess in the middle. 
  3. Your small successes will motivate and encourage you to keep experimenting.

We’ll cover some predetermined experiment options in Part 2. When experimenting, choose a workout that will boost a strength or reduce a weakness, as discussed in accelerator #2. Always write down the results of your experiment so you can refer back to and learn from them.

Accelerator #4: Ask Someone Else to Choose Your Experiment

Boost the effectiveness of accelerator #3 by asking for help with experiments from someone with an outside perspective—someone else can more objectively identify your strengths and weaknesses, and more easily see when your intentions aren’t having the desired effect.

When asking a colleague to choose an experiment for you, ask them to consider:

  • Which diminishing tendency you’re most prone to
  • Which experiment would be most effective for getting more out of people, and why
  • What feedback they can give that would help you improve your leadership of both your people and the organization

Accelerator #5: Anticipate Difficulty

While the Multiplier concepts are easy to understand, they’re not as easy to implement. For example, replacing assumptions and habits takes hard work and resilience.

There are two preparations you can make so that you’re better positioned to weather difficulties:

1. Accept that changing habits is hard. To solidify a new habit, you have to repeat it many times before it’s wired into your brain. Until that rewiring is complete, your brain will subconsciously drive you towards your old habits. This can be demotivating, so be kind to yourself and permit yourself to make mistakes. Regularly remind yourself of:

  • Your new assumption and how it relates to the habit you want to develop
  • The normal delay between changing your assumptions and seeing the corresponding change in your habits
  • The inevitability that you’ll sometimes diminish others using your old habit while you’re trying to develop the new one

2. Communicate with your colleagues. Telling your colleagues you’re trying to change will reassure them that your behavior isn’t erratic or irrational. Additionally, they can provide encouragement and support, which will strengthen your commitment to change.

Becoming a Multiplier: 5 Ways to Accelerate Success

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Liz Wiseman's "Multipliers" at Shortform .

Here's what you'll find in our full Multipliers summary :

  • Why multipliers make better leaders than diminishers
  • How multipliers increase the total intelligence and capability of a team
  • The 3 steps to follow if you want to reduce your own diminishing qualities

Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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