Best-selling author Liz Wiseman shares the traits of powerful leaders

Joining the most recent episode of The Debrief was Liz Wiseman, New York Times bestselling author of books including Multipliers, Revised and Updated: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter. Liz has spent much of her career researching the difference between leaders that make an outsized impact, and leaders who don’t.

During her insightful conversation with Teddy, Liz shared her recommended interview questions, explained why some leaders are “multipliers” and others are “diminishers,” and highlighted which characteristics are most valuable in a team setting.

While we’d definitely recommend watching the entire episode (embedded at the bottom of this post), we’ve also curated some of our favorite moments from their conversation.

Humility is essential for great leadership

Looking back on her career, Liz shared one of the most powerful examples of strong leadership that she has encountered. While facing a unique set of challenges, her boss was transparent enough to admit that he simply didn’t know what was required to solve the problem at-hand. This humility was accompanied by an invitation to Liz to help them discover a solution, which also helped her feel more included on the team.

The best interview question

“What do you hope to get out of this conversation?” is one of Liz’s favorite interview questions because it can reveal a candidate’s proactivity. Beyond an interview setting, is the candidate going to attend a meeting as a follower, or show up with intent?

The importance of intellectual curiosity

Intellectual curiosity is the number one trait of leaders who multiply the skills and capabilities of those on their team. Not to be confused with the level of intelligence someone has, those who are intellectually curious are often more interested in what they don’t know than what they do know. Intellectual curiosity is often a key trait in those who are able to successfully tackle new, difficult challenges in an impactful way.

Doing well in ambiguous, uncertain situations

When looking across a team, what makes an “impact player” so unique? Put simply, it’s their ability to thrive in the face of uncertainty. While a lot of employees are proficient in their defined role, the introduction of ambiguity can throw them for a loop. Impact players don’t try to avoid these gray areas, they embrace them.

Don’t take yourself too seriously

After years of studying leaders that “diminished” the skills of those on their team, levity was the attribute that they were least likely to have. Being able to laugh at oneself is a valued character trait, and injecting levity into a stressful situation encourages a team to persevere against challenges.

Watch the entire conversation

Hosting Liz was a privilege, and we look forward to speaking to her again soon.

Interested in checking out other conversations from The Debrief? Watch the previous episode here.

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