Battle of the ‘read it for work’ books!
First round: the credentials. Liz Wiseman was the Vice President of Human Resources Development at the tech giant Oracle, where she created Oracle University- seems like good background and skills for teaching the rest of us some things about leadership. Kim Scott worked at Apple and Google, including as part of the ‘Apple faculty’, and also coached CEOs at Twitter, Dropbox and some other tech companies. She also name drops Sheryl Sandberg. So far seems like an even match.
Second round: what is the basic idea? Wiseman’s mantra in Multipliers is that good leaders (multipliers) “amplify the talents of those around them” while bad leaders (diminishers) sap their team’s morale and success probability through a variety of less than helpful behaviours (micromanaging, shutting down ideas, taking credit where not due, etc.). Scott’s main idea is that leaders need to provide feedback often and honestly, ideally from a position of caring after building a relationship with their reports. Both seem like solid pieces of advice.
Third round: fleshing out the basic idea- how is the book as a whole? While both of these books could be condensed by at least half (something I find frequently with work books- why do they feel the need to add padding when writing for an audience that by default likely has limited time?!? I would love a very short Cliff’s note-y guide through these ‘big ideas’ instead of a bloated book), Scott’s is the one I remember better and feel that I’ve incorporated more into what I do.
Wiseman gives a number of different examples of the types of multipliers (or ways of multiplying), as well as the types/ways of diminishing, and encourages leaders to work towards the former. Some of her examples resonated (ie: haven’t we all worked for a micromanager? Pains of office life) but because there were so many ways of doing the right/wrong thing, once I closed the book I didn’t build a lot of specifics into how I do things.
With Scott’s book, the basic idea is very concrete- give more honest feedback- she also couples it with other simple, concrete how-tos: give your feedback on specific points that can be changed, give your feedback as close to the event as possible, get to know your direct reports so that your feedback comes across as the caring it is rather than being a jerk. I suspect we’ve all been the victim of not receiving feedback about something that we wish we would have gotten earlier/in a nicer way; I also suspect we’re all guilty (unless we’re Dutch or German) of having not given feedback when it was most useful. Because Scott provided such straightforward to-do steps, I found it easy to start to build some of these in, and while I’m not entirely there I do think back on these ideas in the one-on-ones I have with my reports, and I’ve definitely given some feedback that made me feel slightly uncomfortable (in the past I probably would have just shied away from giving it- Scott argues that doing so actually makes you a bigger jerk because you’re robbing that individual of the opportunity to learn, and reinforcing behaviour that you won’t reward and may even punish later).
The Winner: Kim Scott takes it in the third round! Wiseman had some good ideas but those ideas as abstracts in a ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ narrative ultimately couldn’t compete with the tangible steps for universally better leadership that Scott outlines. Ladies and gentlemen, pick up your copy of Radical Candour on the Way Out the Door! If you have time for some additional light reading, or you work better with less concrete work guides, then Multipliers is still worth your time.
Since these were work-reads, counting this one as the ‘Dough’ square for cbr14bingo.