Liz Wiseman didn’t let those in attendance at the Silicon Slopes summit fall asleep during her midmorning talk.
Instead, the president of the Wiseman Group, a leadership training company, spent her roughly 60 minutes on stage teaching about leadership with the help of memes, crowd surveys, person-to-person interaction and a rubber band-based game with a selected audience member.
Needless to say, the general session hall was buzzing with excitement during her speech.
Wiseman’s talk focused on how certain styles of leaderships could demoralize workers and when truly great leaders do their best to multiply the amount of successful workers in a company.
"You can start a company with genius. But you have to build a company with genius-makers,” said Wiseman, author of the book "The Multiplier Effect."
Specifically, she mentioned NBA legend Magic Johnson, who, she said, had been told as a high school basketball star to find ways to score. But he later changed his mind to make his teammates better.
She said Johnson was a “multiplier” and not a “diminisher.” He, like other great leaders, understand what it’s like to lead people who will follow you.
"The more you learn about leadership, you learn about followership,” she said.
She asked crowd members to shout out answers to questions about their own work experience, specifically whether their leaders were diminishers or multipliers.
Wiseman then unveiled seven different styles of leaders, all of whom could diminish their co-workers’ success in various ways.
For example, she pointed to her own optimistic tendencies, saying her subordinates questioned her abilities because she was too optimistic. She said her workers believed she didn't see their job as hard.
She also talked about the “always on” leader, who often thinks their energy is contagious and that it will “whoop” co-workers. Instead, it makes workers less enthused to be involved, she said.
Wiseman then proceeded to break down each individual leadership style with a series of memes, which showed the leader’s intents against what the subordinate actually feels.
Wiseman then offered solutions about how to lead successfully. She said it’s important to ask questions of co-workers about how jobs can improve. Wiseman also said it’s important to offer workers a “playground” — a safe space to experiment and fail.
Wiseman also said it’s important to find people’s genius — what they’re successful at — and encourage it, even if they’re a troublemakers.
And, of course, leaders should offer challenges to their employees.
To show this, Wiseman called on an audience member — Emily, a “friend from home” who goes to BYU, according to Wiseman — who came on stage for a demonstration.
The two pulled on a rubber band, with Emily distancing herself from Wiseman until the speaker couldn’t stay on her feet. She was pulled until she moved.
The point, according to Wiseman, was to show that leaders should always challenge their co-workers by stretching their limitations.
Wiseman concluded her presentation with a video of a girl’s first ski jump, which showed that anyone can succeed with the right motivations.
Or, as Wiseman put it: