How would you answer this question, posed by Liz Wiseman, in “Multipliers: How The Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter”:
Are you a genius or a genius maker?
Let’s stipulate that the world needs geniuses.
We need earth-shattering ideas and novel solutions to vexing problems. We do.
The question is, can we get genius minus a personality that sucks the energy out of every room?
Certain authors, creatives and hyper-specialized (or aggrandized) consultants can make a fruitful living being “geniuses”, even if—sometimes especially if—they make sport of quashing the ideas of those around them.
But the genius maker is another breed.
“When these leaders walk into a room, light bulbs go off over people’s heads; ideas flow and problems get solved.”
All of a sudden, we feel good. We feel inspired, we feel heard. And our hearts and our minds get engaged.
Who doesn’t want more of that?
Meet Gary, one of my favorite genius makers. When we met, he was in the role of underdog, fighting an uphill battle to convince his global firm partners that there was value in spending non-billable (gasp) time courting present and future clients.
Gary has a knack for letting others shine. In strategy sessions, he made senior partners feel valued for their insights (while reining in any attempts to take focus off the client). He mentored junior consultants (considered too junior by others), teaching them how to court peer-level clients. And he always—always—shared credit. He never wasted time proving himself the smartest person in the room.
So when he became the firm’s leading rainmaker, none of his many fans were surprised. His critics faded into the woodwork and Gary’s star—his genius—multiplied into the very culture of the firm.
That is the power of a genius maker.
What genius will you make today?