Liz Wiseman: The Power of Not Knowing [Entire Talk] | Summary and Q&A

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October 10, 2014
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Stanford eCorner
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Liz Wiseman: The Power of Not Knowing [Entire Talk]

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Summary

In this video, Liz Wiseman explores the concept of intelligence and its use within organizations. She discusses the downside of intelligence and the potential dangers it poses to companies, teams, and innovation. She also looks at the power of not knowing and the advantages it can bring. Wiseman examines the role of rookies and how inexperience can drive top performance. She introduces the concept of perpetual rookies, successful professionals who maintain their rookie smarts and approach their work as if they were doing it for the very first time. Wiseman also discusses the idea of smart leaders creating dumb teams and the difference between diminishers and multipliers. She explores the behaviors and beliefs of each type of leader and the impact they have on the intelligence and capability of their teams.

Questions & Answers

Q: What does Wiseman mean by "the downside of intelligence?"

By "the downside of intelligence," Wiseman is referring to the potential dangers and negative consequences that can arise from having too much knowledge and expertise. While intelligence is often seen as desirable, it can sometimes hinder innovation, impede learning, and create blind spots.

Q: How does not knowing tend to be an advantage?

Not knowing can be an advantage because it forces individuals to be curious, open-minded, and willing to learn. When we don't know something, we are more likely to seek guidance, ask questions, and challenge assumptions. This mindset of inquiry can lead to fresh perspectives, creative solutions, and breakthrough innovation.

Q: Can smart leaders create dumb teams?

Yes, smart leaders can create dumb teams if they have a diminishing leadership style. A diminisher is someone who believes they are the smartest person in the room and tends to micro-manage, dominate conversations, and suppress the intelligence and capabilities of others. In contrast, a multiplier is a leader who believes in the intelligence of their team, empowers others, and creates an environment where everyone can contribute their best work.

Q: How do diminishers manage talent?

Diminishers tend to be empire builders, meaning they hoard talent rather than empower and develop it. They hire smart people but then fail to fully utilize their intelligence and capabilities. Diminishers often micro-manage, make all the decisions themselves, and create an environment of anxiety and stress.

Q: What is the impact of diminishers on team intelligence and capability?

Diminishers tend to get only a fraction of their team's intelligence and capability. In the video, participants estimated that diminishers typically access around 28% of their team's potential. This is a significant loss of potential and can create a stagnant and unproductive work environment.

Q: How do multipliers manage talent?

Multipliers are talent magnets who liberate and challenge their team members. They believe in the intelligence of their team and create an environment where everyone can contribute their best work. Multipliers empower others, ask questions, and provide opportunities for growth and learning.

Q: How does a multiplier impact team intelligence and capability?

Multipliers are able to access almost all of their team's intelligence and capability. Their empowering and inclusive leadership style encourages collaboration, creativity, and high performance. As a result, teams led by multipliers tend to be more innovative, productive, and successful.

Q: What are some examples of diminisher behaviors?

Examples of diminisher behaviors include micro-managing, talking at people instead of with them, interrupting, emphasizing superiority, and reminding others of their lack of experience or knowledge. Diminishers often have a my-way-or-the-highway approach and can be domineering and controlling.

Q: What are some examples of multiplier behaviors?

Multipliers listen, support, ask questions, get out of the way, and appreciate their team members. They challenge and empower others, create a culture of trust and collaboration, and provide opportunities for growth and development. Multipliers see the potential in their team and encourage everyone to contribute their best work.

Q: Is it common for diminishers to have good intentions?

Yes, it is common for diminishers to have good intentions. Often, diminishers believe they are doing a good job as leaders and have the best interests of their team in mind. However, their leadership style and behaviors inadvertently stifle creativity, suppress intelligence, and limit team performance.

Takeaways

Liz Wiseman's video highlights the downside of intelligence and the importance of maintaining a rookie mindset. Not knowing can be an advantage, as it fosters curiosity, inquiry, and innovation. Smart leaders can create dumb teams if they have a diminishing leadership style, characterized by micro-management, dominance, and a lack of trust in their team's abilities. Multipliers, on the other hand, empower and challenge their team members, creating an environment that unlocks intelligence and capability. Teams led by multipliers tend to be more innovative and successful. It is important for leaders to be mindful of their leadership style and strive to create an environment that encourages and supports the intelligence and growth of their team.

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