Book Review                                                    Page 40


The Multiplier Effect

Tapping the Genius Inside Our Schools

by Liz Wiseman, Lois Allen and Elise Foster, Corwin, Thousand Oaks, Calif., 2013, 187 pp., $23.95 softcover


In The Multiplier Effect, authors Liz Wiseman, Lois Allen and Elise Foster make a persuasive case for an admirable approach to leadership in education. The authors, all leadership coaches and education professionals, use surveys of working professionals to develop a model for their multiplier effect.

The book, a followup to their 2010 bestseller Multipliers, concentrates on the central question, “Do the smartest leaders create the smartest organizations or do the seemingly smartest leaders have a diminishing effect on the intelligence of others?” Their research shows the most critical leadership skill is less a matter of how much one knows than the ability to tap into the knowledge of others. They don’t emphasize the need for a strong charismatic leader who is the single brain at the head of a school, but rather the multiplying effect of collective genius.

The book posits that certain people have a natural potential to be multipliers and these individuals make others better and smarter by amplifying the intelligence of their colleagues. In stark contrast, there also are those administrators who are highly intelligent but unable to look beyond their own capabilities and don’t understand how to activate the full genius of their team. These individuals are described as “diminishers,” people who desperately need to prove they are the smartest in the room. The book successfully compares the positive aspects of the multiplier style with the negative traits of diminishing leadership.

Many leadership books are intended for business professionals, but The Multiplier Effect is written specifically for the school-level administrator. The authors provide numerous anecdotes to capture how exemplary leaders deal with real-life issues, allowing readers to vicariously practice the multiplier effect and compare the negative properties of diminishing leadership. The Multiplier Effect teaches school leaders to understand the power they have in creating culture of trust and respect.


Reviewed by Jeff Smith, superintendent, Balsz School District, Phoenix, Ariz.



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