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Key Insights from Liz Wiseman and Carla Harris at the Virtual Women in Leadership Institute | Day 3 of WIL

November 11, 2020 Kristen Howe

Today, we heard from two incredibly inspiring women at the Virtual Women in Leadership Institute™: Liz Wiseman and Carla Harris. Be sure to check out the big takeaways from these leaders below.

Missed our Day 2 highlights, featuring Glennon Doyle and Soledad O’Brien? Check out our recap of insights here and be sure to follow along on social media for in-the-moment coverage.

Liz Wiseman on the “Inspire” Commitment

Liz Wiseman is a researcher and executive advisor who teaches leadership to executives around the world. She is the author of the New York Times best seller Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, The Multiplier Effect: Tapping the Genius Inside Our Schools, and the Wall Street Journal best seller Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work.

When leaders play big and try to inspire their people, it can end up causing their team members to play small. Sometimes, the smartest leaders end up deeply underutilizing their team. Liz Wiseman calls these leaders diminishers—and they waste talent and intellect. Organizations simply cannot afford diminishers.

During this session, Liz explained how we can operate more like “multipliers”—leaders who make their team members feel smarter, more capable, and who drive true innovation. These multipliers access 90% of their team’s intelligence, drive and knowledge because they inspire others around them to grow and take on more.

Key Takeaways:

  • Diminishers gather talent, while multipliers are a talent magnet. Talent flows to them because of how deeply they use it!
  • It’s about mindset: Diminishers seem to believe that people can’t figure it out without them. They see themselves as central to their team’s ability to function. Multipliers believe that people are smart and with the right catalyst, they can figure it out and solve any problem.
  • We all have accidental diminisher tendencies that drain energy and capability from our team. Here are some examples of diminisher types and remedies for these behaviors:
    • The Idea Fountain is filled with ideas, constantly sharing them freely with their team members. The problem is that these leaders tend to overwhelm their teams, and people often go to them for ideas, instead of innovating on their own. The remedy: Inspire people by asking better questions. Take the Extreme Question Challenge: In your next meeting, instead of giving directives, ask good questions and see how this behavior shift allows your people to flourish.
    • The “Always On” leader is charismatic, naturally energetic—and they tend to believe that their energy will inspire others. Instead, they often leave their teams feeling drained and their contributions can be perceived as “white noise.” The remedy: Take the “Chip Challenge” by bringing only your best ideas to meetings, contribute, and then give your team members the space to “go big.”
    • The Rescuer is big-hearted and wants people to be successful, so they swoop in to save the day when someone is struggling. But, by doing this, they stop the learning process too early, stunting the learning and leadership journeys of those on their teams. The remedy: Work to put others in charge and give them accountability—and the chance to fix the issue on their own.
  • The best leaders know when to play big, but they also know when to step back. They know when to be a genius and when to be a genius-maker.

Carla Harris on the “Connected” Commitment

Wall Street veteran and author Carla Harris reminded us that, “Leadership is a journey from execution to empowerment.” You must engage with others in a way that empowers them. And always—always—bring your authentic self to the table. As we strive to live and lead during an unprecedented public health and economic crisis, our ability to lead authentically is more important than ever.

Carla, who is Vice Chairman, Managing Director and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley, taught us how we can lead authentically: Know who you are. Who are you today? You are not the woman you were yesterday, and you’re not the woman you were at the beginning of 2020. Understand that we are all multifaceted. Own that.

Finally, relax. You are authentically you, so you can meet people where they are. Carla encouraged us to give up the role of executing—you can’t get to second base when your foot is still on first. She also discussed the importance of being intentional about cultivating mutually beneficial relationships and pushing ourselves to build relationships with others who can support our aspirations. From there, she dove into the importance of networking. She acknowledged that while it may feel uncomfortable, it is an intentional action we all need to take. Building a network that we can eventually leverage is a powerful tool every leader should have in their toolbox. Carla left us with a powerful message: “We all have a voice, which is powerful and influential if we use it.”


Key Takeaways:
  • The real way to grow your power is to give it away.
  • The way you amplify your value in your organization isn’t to execute more—it’s to empower people. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Resist the temptation to continue to execute. It’s not about who you used to be.
  • If you are invited to the room, you belong in the room. If you belong in the room, you have a seat at the table. If you have a seat at the table, you have a responsibility to use your voice.
  • Be authentically you: Know the environment you’re walking into. Own and embrace all of who you are, so you can relax and meet people where they are.
  • Your voice is at the heart of your power. You must be intentional about using your voice. To be a powerful, impactful leader, you must be able to call a thing, a thing. When you don’t speak up, you lose the authenticity you brought into the room. That will cost you, in terms of trust and retention.
  • We can all lead from any seat—and we must.
More from Carla Harris:
  • BLOG: #LinkageWIL Inspiration Series: Carla Harris on Who Gets a Seat at the Table | We have the ability to rise to the moment to empower women and other underrepresented groups to continue to lean into their work and advance in the workplace. Read the blog.


What’s next at the Virtual Women in Leadership Institute? There’s more to come! Tomorrow, Molly Fletcher takes to the virtual mainstage to share her keen insights on negotiating on behalf of ourselves and our teams, and will help us bring the 21st annual Women in Leadership Institute to a close. Be sure to continue to follow along here on the Linkage Leadership Insights blog and follow us on social media for in-the-moment insights.

Linkage’s Virtual Women in Leadership Institute is taking place November 9–12, 2020. Didn’t get a chance to join us for the live experience? On-Demand passes are now available, giving you on-demand access to the recorded conference from November 16, 2020–January 29, 2021. Learn more about On-Demand passes.

Dark haired woman watches from audience of conference event

Women in Leadership Institute

NOV. 13–16, 2023 | Orlando, Florida, or Virtual
A 4-day immersive learning experience designed to equip women leaders with actionable strategies to overcome the hurdles women often face in the workplace.

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