Back To All Stories

Important Leadership Traits of Multipliers and Avoiding Diminisher Ones

Why is it that we are smart and capable under some leaders, and not others?


Leadership is tough but most of us try to lead with the best intentions.

So why, under your leadership, is your team not thriving?

It’s time to look at whether you’re a “Multiplier” or a "Diminisher".

Our masterclass “Multipliers - Unlock Your Team’s Potential” explored Liz Wiseman's famous leadership concept.

Multipliers master practitioner Deborah Keep (pictured) said studies show employees use up to 90% of their intelligence when working for a “Multiplier” leader but only around 40% when working for a “Diminisher”.  

Multiplier or Diminisher?

A Multiplier is a big part of what makes a good leader. This style of leadership amplifies everyone’s unique genius so the whole team shines.

It is challenging but exhilarating to work for a Multiplier.

Multiplier Traits In Action

Delegates said multiplier leaders they’d worked under encouraged them, saw more in them than they did themselves, trusted them, gave them direction, made it safe to fail, provided stretch opportunities (ofen in a new direction), were curious and interested in them, asked them for ideas and listened. 

Multipliers get more intelligence from others

Multipliers assume intelligence, and, in our poll, our delegates remembered multiplier leaders who got up to 100% more intelligence from them.

Diminisher Traits in Action

Diminishers are leaders we don’t want to be working under. They’re the micromanagers, tyrants and know-it-alls.

Delegates said diminisher leaders they’d worked for talked behind their backs, micromanaged, ignored positives but never missed a negative, didn’t share openly, blamed the team, weren’t interested in discussion, spoke for others, played favourites, were not inquisitive about they were capable of, or mansplained everything.

Diminishers reduce intelligence

It’s plain exhausting to work for a Diminisher. They reduce intelligence on the team. In our poll, masterclass delegates shared the result of working under a diminisher saying they their leader only got up to 60% of their intelligence potential.

Diminisher Behaviours:

·       Empire builder – they hoard and underutilise talent.

·       Tyrant – they create stress that stops thinking.

·       Know-it-all – they tell people what to do.

·       Decision Maker – they decide (then ask for debate).

·       Micromanager - they're always over your shoulder.

Good intentions but poor results

But Diminishers are often unaware of their impact on others, who probably assume they're doing the best they can.

The “Accidental Diminisher” leads with the best of intentions but accidentally shuts down intelligence. Their people feel stifled, depleted, toxic, or overworked but underutilized.

It's just one way leaders can destroy teams.

So let's take a look at Accidental Diminisher types, their behaviours, and the results of each.

Do you have these diminisher traits? 

·       Idea fountain – Leader shares new ideas all the time. No-one knows what idea to work on. Team members stop executing ideas or coming up new ideas of their own.

·       Always on – Leader is gregarious and energetic, sharing stories, leading the parade. It’s exhausting because the leader takes up all the space.

·       Rescuer – Leader fixes things and solve problems. Individuals feel helpless and they stop fixing their own problems.

·       Pacesetter – Leader rolls up their sleeves and sets a cracking pace. People can’t keep up. Employees lose momentum.

·       Rapid responder – Leader jumps to immediate response. Team members wait and let the boss respond. Stop offering their intelligence.

·       Optimist – Leader is all “ra, ra, we can do this.” Team sees the leader as out of touch and with rose-coloured glasses.

·       Protector – Leader over-focused on making a safe, nice experience at work. Employees don’t grow. They don’t use their intelligence muscles.

·       Strategist – Leader builds a compelling vision, and expects the team to follow. But the team is excluded from the big thinking.

·       Perfectionist – Leader wants everything to be perfect. Employees feel they’re never good enough.

Rescuer was chosen by more delegates at Growth Faculty's masterclass who self-assessed their own main accidental diminisher trait.

Multipliers assume their people are smart

Multipliers, by contrast, work on the core assumption that people are smart and will figure it out.

Multiplier Behaviours:

·       Talent magnet – Attract and optimise talent.

·       Liberator – Create space for best thinking and demand best work.

·       Challenger – Extend stretch challenges.

·       Debate maker – Drive sound sound decisions through rigorous debate.

·       Investor – Instill ownership and accountability. 

To become a better leader, it’s about shifting the balance to create more multiplier moments, and fewer diminishing moments.

6 behaviour shifts to move towards being a multiplier:

·       From giving answers – to asking better questions.

·       From taking responsibility – to giving your people 51% of the vote.

·       From taking over entirely – to giving the pen back (assist, don’t take over).

·       From encouraging innovation – to making space for mistakes.

·       From hiring smart people – to using the native genius already in the team.

·       From delegating work – to offering stretch challenges.

To identify native genius in your employee:

·       Observation – be intellectually curious.

·       Having conversations, and notice. What do they volunteer for? Where do they really excel? What do they naturally gravitate to?

·       Read about Patrick Lencioni’s 6 Type of Working Genius diagnostic tool. 

Building a multiplier habit

The habit chain: Trigger – Behaviour – Surface Result – Hidden Reward – Consequence.

If you have a diminisher behaviour, try to work through the habit chain to understand what's behind your behaviour.

Diminisher example:

·       Someone starts to miss milestones.

·       Diminisher behaviour: I want to jump in and take the lead on the project.

·       On the surface, things start moving to completion.

·       Diminisher reward: I feel important as a contributor and problem solver.

·       Diminisher consequence: They stop taking ownership in future challenges.

Multiplier example:

·       Someone starts to miss milestones.

·       Multiplier behaviour: I contribute but make sure I give the pen back.

·       On the surface, things start moving to completion.

·       Multiplier reward: They feel empowered and confident.

·       Multiplier consequence: They grow and trust they can share their struggles.


Self-awareness will unlock whether you're a Multiplier or Diminisher.

Like most of us, you're probably a bit of each on most days. But by being aware of your triggers, your behaviours and your habits, you can lift the intelligence of your team and give them the great leadership they want and deserve.

If you'd like to increase your professional and personal development why not consider becoming a Leadership Pass Holder with Growth Faculty? Unlimited access to 40 live virtual masterclasses and Global Headliner virtual events - PLUS year-round leadership content at On Demand with videos, podcasts and book summaries. Join a community of knowledge seekers who are inspired by the best. Access $4350+ value for just $398 AUD. See who's up next.


Keep Informed
Stay Inspired


© 2022 The Growth Faculty

Where Brilliant Ideas Inspire Leadership

Privacy Policy    Terms of Service