Allow Others to be Smart

June 28, 2019 Scott Miller


Do you need to be the smartest person in the room?
In Liz Wiseman’s book, Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, she invites leaders to assess several key questions: Are you the genius or the genius maker? Are you a Multiplier (someone who uses their intelligence to bring out the best in others) or a Diminisher (the “smartest person in the room” who shuts everyone else down)?
Leaders who struggle with allowing others to be smart are often driven by their ego, insecurities, or a desire to jump in and top any idea. Here are three skills you can use to empower and engage others to showcase their creativity, experience, and perspectives:
  • Consider the percentage of time you spend talking versus listening. 
  • Decide when to be the expert with the “right” answer, and when to allow your team to work through the process of coming up with it themselves. 
  • Step back from being the driver of the discussion and ask someone on your team to take the lead.


  • Read Multipliers and take the complimentary online assessment that comes with the book purchase. It will rock your world and help you become a genius maker. Your future employees will thank you for it.
  • Assess your paradigm: Are you comfortable surrounding yourself with people who are smarter? Do you hire down to keep your stature high, or do you hire up to raise the quality and success output of all your initiatives?
  • During your next 1-on-1 with a team member, ask them to sincerely tell you what it’s like being in a professional relationship with you.
  • Invite a team member to lead a project meeting (with or without you in attendance). Step back and stay out of their way.
  • The next time you lead a meeting, ask a trusted colleague to take inventory of the percentage of time you talked and solved problems, etc. Given your awareness that the inventory is taking place, the time you spend leading might be less than normal. But it could still be instructive and give insight into any accidental diminishing tendencies you might have.

To learn more about this tip, watch this short video from Scott Miller, author of Management Mess to Leadership Success.


Explore The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People page to learn other ways you can grow your personal effectiveness.

Leading a team requires a different skillset than working as an individual contributor. To succeed in the face of new challenges, first-level leaders need to shift how they think and act. Download our latest guide and develop your people into a high-performing team. 


About the Author

Scott Miller

Scott Miller is a 23-year associate of FranklinCovey and serves as the executive vice president of thought leadership. Scott hosts multiple podcasts including FranklinCovey’s On Leadership and Great Life, Great Career. Additionally, Scott is the author of the multi-week Amazon #1 New Release: Management Mess to Leadership Success: 30 Challenges to Become the Leader You Would Follow. Scott authors a weekly leadership column for and is a frequent contributor for Thrive Global. Previously Scott worked for the Disney Development Company, having grown up in Central Florida, and currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife and three sons.

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