(From “Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter,” by Liz Wiseman, Greg McKeown; HarperBusiness, 2010)

Diminishers underutilize people, leaving creativity and talent on the table. They view intelligence as a scarce item: “You won’t find high levels of brainpower everywhere, in everyone.” They tend to drive results primarily through their personal involvement and make decisions by consulting only a few trusted intimates.

On the other hand, Multipliers foster a culture of intelligence; employees don’t just feel smarter, they become smarter. Multipliers have a flexible view of intelligence: “Smarts are ever evolving and can be cultivated.” Multipliers don’t ask, “Is this person smart?” They ask, “How is this person smart?”

Multipliers recognize that “deep smarts” are manifested in countless ways so they focus on finding talent at all levels of the organization chart. Multipliers acknowledge people’s “native genius,” the things people instinctively do well, often without being asked, simply because it comes naturally to them.

Multipliers create an environment where it is safe for people to speak their thoughts in a constructive manner. Multipliers broadcast an intensity that demands high-level work. But they also have a high tolerance for mistakes, understand the importance of learning as an iterative process, thus creating the mental space in which people can blossom.

While working for a Multiplier may feel great, Multipliers aren’t feel-good types. They have a hard edge, they expect stellar performance, and they drive individuals to achieve extraordinary results.

Key traits that separate Multipliers and Diminishers are dominating vs. facilitating and holding on vs. letting go.

It takes faith and trust to let go; it also takes wisdom. Let go too soon and the baton can be dropped, hold on too long and capacity is diminished and potential lost. The challenge for the best of bosses is that the dropped baton usually can be clearly seen, while the opportunity cost of diminished capacity and stunted human growth requires vision to comprehend and value.

Leadership is the art of bringing out the best in people, sometimes potential even they don’t see themselves. At the same time, followers can facilitate the process by affirmatively committing to their leader that they are ready, mirroring a deep understanding of the desired result and the resources available. In doing so they can become 360-degree leaders and convincingly demonstrate their readiness to become higher-level leaders.

Closing quotes:

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” – Lao Tzu, founder of Taoism, 600 BC-531 BC

“A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader, a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.” – Unknown

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams, 6th U.S. President