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Success Story Podcast

Liz Wiseman – CEO of The Wiseman Group | Increase Your Leadership, Influence, and Impact at Work

By January 20, 2023September 24th, 2023No Comments

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About The Guest

Liz Wiseman is a world-renowned leadership expert, speaker, and author. With over 20 years of experience studying and teaching leadership, Liz has developed a unique perspective on how to develop and leverage the leadership capabilities of individuals and organizations.

Liz is the president of The Wiseman Group, a leadership research, and development firm, and the author of several best-selling books, including “Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter,” “Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work,” and “The Multiplier Effect: Tapping the Genius Inside Our Schools.”

Liz’s work has been featured in numerous media outlets, including the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Fortune, and the Wall Street Journal. She has also been recognized as one of the “Top 10 Leadership Thinkers” by Leadership Excellence and as one of the “Top 100 Leadership Speakers” by Inc. Magazine.

With her expertise in leadership development and her ability to translate complex ideas into practical, actionable insights, Liz Wiseman is a sought-after speaker and consultant for organizations looking to develop the next generation of leaders.

Talking Points

  • 00:00 — Intro
  • 02:31 — Liz Wiseman’s origin story
  • 10:08 — The goal of Liz’s research
  • 13:46 — Liz Wiseman’s experience at Oracle
  • 19:27 — What is an impact player?
  • 31:00 — Defining and finding impact players
  • 40:18 — Some things that managers like and do not like to see
  • 47:25 — Liz’s advice for the audience
  • 50:43 — Where can people connect with Liz Wiseman?
  • 51:17 — What does success mean to Liz Wiseman?

Show Links

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What is the Success Story Podcast?

On this podcast, you’ll find interviews, Q&A, keynote presentations & conversations on sales, marketing, business, startups, and entrepreneurship.

The podcast is hosted by entrepreneur, business executive, author, educator & speaker, Scott D. Clary.

Scott will discuss some of the lessons he’s learned over his own career, as well as have candid interviews with execs, celebrities, notable figures, and politicians. All who have achieved success through both wins and losses, to learn more about their life, their ideas, and insights.

He sits down with leaders and mentors and unpacks their stories to help pass those lessons on to others through both experiences and tactical strategies for business professionals, entrepreneurs, and everyone in between.


Host of the Success Story Podcast:








Machine Generated Transcript


people, impact, oracle, players, job, organization, leaders, managers, leadership, learned, work, ordinary, contributors, important, deal, moment, responsibility, Liz, hubspot, boss


Scott D Clary, Liz Wiseman


Scott D Clary  00:00

Welcome to success story. I’m your host Scott D. Clary. The success story podcast is part of the HubSpot podcast network that was bought Podcast Network has incredible podcasts like nudge, hosted by Phil Agnew, where you’ll learn the science behind great marketing with bite sized 20 minute episodes packed with practical advice from world class marketers and behavioral scientists. Nudge is fast paced and insightful, with real world examples that you can apply to your business. Listen to nudge or success story wherever you listen to your podcast. today. My guest is Liz Wiseman. She’s 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, the Wall Street Journal bestseller Rookie Smarts, why learning beats knowing in the new game of work and the Wall Street Journal bestseller impact players how to take the lead play bigger and multiply your impact. And she’s the CEO of the Weizmann group. This is a leadership research and development firm headquartered in Silicon Valley. Some of her recent clients you’re going to know these names Apple AT and T Disney, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Nike, Salesforce, Tesla and Twitter. She has been listed on thinker’s 50, and in 2019, she was recognized as a top leadership thinker in the world. She has conducted significant research in the field of leadership and collective intelligence and writes for Harvard Business Review, fortune and a variety of other business and leadership journals. She is a frequent guest lecturer at BYU and Stanford University and as a former executive at Oracle Corporation, where she worked as the vice president of Oracle University and as the global leader for human resource development. Now we spoke about all things leadership starting off with Liz’s time at Oracle, and how her relationship with her dad impacted her career. We then defined what an impact player is and why they’re so crucial to organizations, we spoke about how in many cases intelligence gets wasted within organizations and how organizations can fix this problem. And we also spoke about the importance of delineating impact, effort and intent. And why this is so crucial for organizations to understand. Because when people show up, they always want to do great work. So how do organizations and people enable everyone in the company to do the best work possible?


Liz Wiseman  02:32

Most meaningful moment in my life. Well, I probably the the moment that set me on, on my path is when I got served papers when I was 17 years old, to appear in small claims court. And I never would have thought that this was like a really meaningful moment in my life, but it did something snapped in it for me. So I was working as I was a bit of a sewing prodigy, I guess, as a child, I just, I don’t know, I started sewing when things and designing things when I was young and ended up in high school, I had a job working in a bridal store, and I did alterations, and someone came in and they were looking for a custom mother of the bride gown. And I don’t know, like in hindsight, like, why she would like actually have a 17 year old girl, make her dress, but she hired me and I made the dress, she didn’t like it. And so she sued me. And I, you know, got this, these notice in the mail that I was being sued for $250, which was my entire life savings. At that point, I didn’t have a way to go to college, other than on my own, I would be putting myself through college. And so this was kind of devastating. And I of course told my parents my parents knew I had done this project and made this dress and my dad’s reaction was well, you’re on your own. And I was just like, what? And so I had to go and go to small claims court and defend myself in court. And you know, my parents weren’t helping me with this and so I was like, Well, okay, I need to prevail in court. Now. I remembered from when I guess middle school I learned that you can’t hold minors to contract so I had a feeling I was probably not going to to lose in court. But I you know, I went and I called up a family friend who was a lawyer was like a corporate attorney for HP. I’m like, you know, what, what do I have to do and and then I had like, had all these witnesses and character witnesses and situational witnesses and I like short cord with my entourage of witnesses. And I’m like, you know, in my, I don’t know 17 year old version of like, you know, sharp business attire and And, you know, I presented my case and did all this. And, you know, I ended up winning this court judgment, but I think it sets something in me. And maybe, you know, later, I was working for my father when I was in college, and he was a real estate developer, or real estate salesmen. And we used to go from, like, industrial park to industrial park, and he would call on people and, you know, try to convince them that, you know, they needed a bigger workspace, he could represent them, and I was tagging along with them. And, you know, we’re knocking on like door number three, and he’s like, this one’s yours. And I’m, like, 1920 years old, and I’m now suddenly half to pitch, like this real estate representation, you know, presentation. And I think, like, both of these were indicative, I guess, of early life experiences that say, you know, what, you got to just take charge of things, you can’t just show up and see what happens. Or, you know, kind of, like, throw up your hands and go, Okay, I don’t know what to do. I, like I think it set me on this course of, you know, what, take charge of situations and be ready at any moment to give a presentation was to Well, I don’t know, that they ever intended to is I, you know, I grew up in that free range, you know, era where you’d like your job as a parent was to, you know, pack lunch and feed your kids dinner, and, you know, take them to the hospital if they, you know, broke their arm. But you know, if it was a mild break, which I had a couple of these little mild fractures with my mom was like, okay, you know what, I’ll take you to the hospital, like, but I gotta go pick up the boys from like, soccer practice, let me go get them and come back. And, and this was the kind of parenting, you know, that was the case in the, you know, early 80s and 70s. So I think those were experiences that taught me to just take charge, I guess, be assertive, or simply not be passive. And, you know, I think other early experiences that really shaped me, were, you know, having kind of a, a gruff father, you know, someone who was difficult to, to, like talk to difficult to deal with. And I think I learned to watch him and understand him and try to, I don’t know, I think I learned these two seemingly contradictory or very different skills. One was the sort of take charge, and the other was like, pay attention to what’s going on around you. You know, I just would watch my dad, like, why is he so grumpy? You know, why is he so Curt? Why do some people think he’s kind of a grumpy mean guy, when actually he’s really just someone who’s wounded and hurt. And you know what? He’s trying so hard to be a good dad, but he just doesn’t know how. And I just learned to, I don’t know. Empathize, imagine a backstory, assume good intent. Deal with grumpy people deal with difficult people deal with bullies. And so when I made my way into the corporate world, and you know, I started my career at Oracle and I was dealing with some really smart, tough people. You know, people used to joke Oh, yeah. to Oracle. They eat they’re young. It’s a tough place. It’s a hard place. I was like, Are you kidding me? These people are so nice.


Scott D Clary  08:39

Compared to your you’re tough. That no nonsense, go figure out your court case, go sell, go sell to this real estate client is almost like a walk in.


Liz Wiseman  08:52

It really was people were like, wow, like, have you met with Larry Ellison? Have you worked with Larry Ellison? Isn’t he so tough? In these domain? I’m like, Are you kidding? Have you met my father? Oh, like Larry sweet. And, and I think it just prepared me to just take charge of things, but not just become the bull in the china shop or the bully on the block. You know, you know, I adore my father. He passed, you know, a couple decades ago. But I think he really taught me to separate people’s behavior and the impact that they’re having on others from their intention and their own story. And I think I just went into the workplace, like, able to see into this, I don’t know, dark space between what people think they’re doing, that’s having a positive impact, and actually what is really happening and this is kind of a space that’s always fascinated me. And if you kind of look at that it’s sort of a red thread. went through all of my research and my work is trying to understand the difference between intent and effort and impact.


Scott D Clary  10:09

And I feel like most people, by by sort of disassociating intent and impact, most people generally want to show up and do good. I think that I think that any, any individual that I’ve ever worked with, doesn’t really want to walk into a job and fail, right, and they don’t want their peers to fail. They don’t want their customers to fail. But ultimately, that’s not always the case. So as you as you as you do your research, what is the what is the goal of your research of all the different books you’ve written when you’re trying to understand the delineation between intent and impact? How do you how do you sort of tie those together? So that intent does equal positive impact? How do you in an organization how do you actually manifest this?


Liz Wiseman  11:05

Well, you’re not Scott, there’s something that you said there that I think is really important. And I want to, you know, put a big exclamation point after it, you said, you know, people want to do a good job. And I think it’s what I have seen in all of my studies, so I’ve, you know, study leadership and the, you know, workplace leadership and workplace impact. And here’s what I’ve noticed, studying some of the best leaders, studying some of the worst leaders studying leaders who, who have a diminishing effect on other people versus leaders who have what I call this multiplying or amplifying effect on other people’s capability, and intellect and confidence. And what I’ve learned is that, you know, when people aren’t able to contribute at their fullest, they don’t extract it describe the experience as easy a cakewalk a good gig, they’re saying, you know, what, it’s it’s frustrating, it’s exhausting to be under utilized. Yet, when people describe jobs, where they are contributing at their fullest giving everything they have working hard, making a difference, they describe those experiences, as you know, hard work, you know, maybe exhausting at times, but totally exhilarating. And, and what I found is that nobody wants the gig where they’re not fully engaged. And, you know, I think the thing I’ve realized is all around the world, people come to work every single day, desperately wanting to contribute everything that they have. And, in essence, what my work is, is trying to help leaders see that. And, and, and lead in a way that people can contribute fully. And, you know, my latest research is all about understanding the difference between effort and impact, and why in a room full of equally smart, talented, capable, hardworking people, some people are, are stuck going through the motions, like they’re putting out the effort, and they’re doing their job, but they’re not really making a difference in their work versus people who aren’t working any harder, that aren’t necessarily any smarter, not not as more capable, but yet, their work has huge impact. And they’re delivering incredible value, they’re creating value for the organization for they’re getting value in the market, they’re creating incredible value for themselves. Like, essentially, I’ve been trying to understand the difference between the difference maker and the position holder.


Scott D Clary  13:46

Understood. And I’m curious because I have opinions from working in large organizations. And I think it’s, I think it’s hidden more in large organizations and a small startup, I think that it’s very obvious when somebody is just a position holder versus somebody that’s actually having impact. But in a large organization, that’s probably that’s probably where these individuals are, are lost, right in an organization where they do want to have an impact, but they don’t know how to do it. And they feel like they’re this cognizant, enormous machine. And I’m curious about your specific. Your experience at Oracle. When you were working at Oracle, did you feel like there was this exact problem? Did you feel like you were having the most impact you could was a route or a pathway for you to do that, or did you feel like, slightly lost that moment?


Liz Wiseman  14:35

Wow. So oracle was this amazing place to work? I feel so fortunate that I landed there right out of graduate school. And it was kind of this place where there was nowhere to hide. The company was growing really fast. I think when I joined there were about oh, I don’t know 2000 People soon there’s 4000 and then, you know, 8016 Because they’re doubling every year. You in size, but like, I loved Sunday nights, and the nights were like, man, tomorrow, I get to go back to work. And it was this sense that like, your job mattered. And if you didn’t do your job, no one else was going to step in and do it for you. So you felt like I mean, it was kind of like, you feel like you’re, you’re sort of on fire. And it was this amazing place. Where, because they were growing really fast, they give a lot of responsibility to people who are really young. And I felt like every day, I’m like, Man, I can’t believe they’re giving me this job, right. So like, as an example, I was 2425 when I was asked to build a global training organization for Oracle and go build a corporate university, go build Oracle University. And I’m, like, 25 years old. And I remember saying to the VP who gave me this charter, I’m like, like, do we lack adult supervision here? Like, are there other no grownups who could do this job because, like, I’m a child, still. And I’m, I’m like, two years out of graduate school. And I’m, like, my only qualification for this job was that I had, like, recently been at a university. So they’re like, Wow, she must know something about education, because she’s, so they give me this job. And I’m kind of it’s sort of like, What the hell kind of moment. And then, after you, you kind of pitch a little fit, like, wait a minute, like, I don’t know how to do this, then you, you know, you get about two days in that mode. And then you’re like, okay, all eyes are on me. And I guess I better figure this out fast. And you start stepping up, I felt like we’re at Oracle. I was, like, working every IQ point. The good Lord gave me like, Yeah, I’m like, I’m, I’m using every ounce of intellect that I have in every ounce of capability and experience. And then like begging for a few more, you know, and building capability


Scott D Clary  17:09

and you’re learning on the way to you’re actively figuring stuff out.


Liz Wiseman  17:14

Yeah, and it was thrilling. And, you know, there’s this this moment, you know, you asked about sort of these like moments of impact, in some ways. For me, like one of these moments was, I’ve got this big job. I’m like, you know, paddling like crazy trying to figure out how to do this. And I’m at this, like a cocktail party with a bunch of Oracle execs and customers, and I’m always the most junior person in the room. I’m usually the the sole female in a group of like, executive males. And my boss was introducing me to one of these Oracle clients. And he’s like, this is Liz, she runs Oracle University. She’s the director of our VP of whatever, Oracle University and the client was like a dignified man and his probably 50s. You know, with gray hair. He’s kind of like, does this flinch? Like? I mean, he doesn’t even hold back. He’s in shock that this? And Bob, my VP, he said, Oh, yeah, this isn’t really particularly qualified for her job. Yeah, and I’m like, okay, great, because air cover it over executive air cover. And so now, there’s a slightly tense moment, as Bob is kind of poking fun at me. And I said, Well, Bob, who wants a job they’re qualified for? Like, there’d be nothing to learn. And I think I might have said something sassier like, Wait, Bob, shoot me if I ever have a job I’m qualified for. And it was like, he looked at me and said, Okay, Princess, you know, Wish granted, and I never ever had a job I was qualified for. And it was thrilling. It was absolutely thrilling. And in fact, a lot of people said, well, why’d you leave Oracle, I had this great job. They paid me well, sweet office, you know, it was it was a it was a killer job. And I left, not because I didn’t like it, I left because I finally knew what I was doing. And it felt terrible. Like, I liked working in that space, where like, I’m using everything I got, and then some as I’m figuring it out along the way, and I actually think it’s the space that people tend to do their best work in.


Scott D Clary  19:27

I want to I want to understand that that type of person that that basically, was you operating an Oracle and that’s really I think, what an impact player is, I think you were that impact player. But then let’s, let’s dive into that a little bit. But I’m also curious, as I sort of listened to this story, I noticed that Oracle was giving you opportunities, but then you are also pushing your own boundaries. So I want to of course define what impact players are and how they operate within organizations and how you can be one how you can find them in all the Good things, but ultimately, whose responsibility? Is it to manifest this kind of environment? Is because for your specific stories seem to be both it was Oracle giving you the opportunity, it was you being a highly motivated outside the box individual. So when it comes to being an impact player, who do you feel bears the brunt of the responsibility for actually enabling that in a company?


Liz Wiseman  20:28

Who, like where it’s like the preponderance of Yes, responsibility? I, okay, let me make a case for both. You know, I did, it’s funny, I did enter college wanting to be an attorney wanted to go to law school, because like I had had this experience, and then I kind of go down that path, maybe a class or two, and I realized I don’t really want to be a lawyer, I just was interested in because people were suing me and people stopped. So me some money in the law faded. But like, the behavior comes from the individual, the mindset comes from the individual, it’s this. It’s this mindset that says, you know, what, I was hired to do a job. But really, the way to have impact is not just do the job, it’s do the job that needs to be done, it’s to see where there are problems or opportunities, it’s not to limit yourself, it’s not just, it’s not that think outside of the box as much as it is to work outside of the box. And I think that’s why I did well at Oracle is because I didn’t say Well, that’s not my job. Like, that’s not what you hired me to do. That’s not what’s on my business card. If there was something hard and interesting, and important, I’m like, I’ll do that, that looks like fun, that looks valuable. And it was actually okay, there’s this other really formative experience I had at Oracle, where, you know, I came into Oracle wanting to teach leadership, you know, I’d gone to grad school and had this kind of like, bug put me to around management and leadership and bad and good leadership. And, and this is what I wanted to do. And, and I want to share this little experience I had and then go back to I think it kind of shed some light on this question of whose responsibility is it to, to create impact and to work on what really matters. So anyway, I’m gunning trying to get like an opportunity inside of Oracle to to teach leadership and I took a job at Oracle, you know, as a program manager and education coordinator, in a division, there’s a reorganization, I have an opportunity now to interview for a new job inside the company. And there’s this group that starting up and they’re gonna, like, centralize the training that’s happening in the company, and this group runs these new hire boot camps. So you know, Oracle’s hiring programmers and engineers, now by the 1000s, coming in from all the top universities in the country, and I go to interview with this group. And, you know, I do my first second interview, I’m now interviewing with Bob, the guy who threw me under the bus with a customer and told me I was not qualified for this job. So this is way before I had been given this job. I’m interviewing with him. And I answer his questions. And then he’s, like, it’s now my turn. And so I’m like, okay, I can take charge of this interview. And, you know, again, I’m a little bit of a take charge kind of person. And so I share with him my observation that the company’s been growing really fast. There’s all of these technologists, programmers and engineers who have been thrown into management, they’re wreaking havoc on their team, they haven’t had any management experience, any management training, they’ve just been tossed into this role. And what Oracle needs is not just a technology Bootcamp for its new hires, Oracle needs a management boot camp for its new managers. And I kind of make my case he agrees, yeah, this is a big problem inside the company. And I’m like, boom, here’s my opportunity. In Oracle needs management boot camp, and I would love to help build this. So I make my offer, like, you know, Put me in coach, I can do this. And Bob said to me, he said, Liz, we think you’re great. We’d love to have you on this team. But your boss has a different problem. She’s got to figure out how to get 1000 new college graduates up to speed and Oracle technology over the next year. And what would be great is if you could help her with that. And I’m like,


Scott D Clary  24:40

No, we want it to do very, very valid, very valid problem to be solved, but not what you want it to do.


Liz Wiseman  24:46

It’s not the job I wanted at all. But it was the job that needed to be done and I could hear like Bob never said it but what I could hear him saying was Liz, look around you and make yourself useful. Like do point yourself towards the big problems. And I’m like, Oh, I wanted to teach a leadership like to rising leaders. And now Bob wants me to teach programming to a bunch of nerds. Yeah. And it’s not something I was qualified to do. But I could see that it was important. And so I said, you know, what, if that’s what’s important, I want to work on what’s important, like, and what it allowed me to a bunch of amazing things happened. As a result of this. It was really kind of this magical moment in my career, because I said, Okay, I don’t want to do that, but I’ll do it. And so I met, I had to learn to think and work like a programmer. I mean, like, the, the aspect to the story is, I didn’t know how to do that work. And so, you know, I partnered with this amazing, young woman, Leslie Stern, who came in to Hi, Leslie M, who came into the company, when I didn’t, you know, she was a proper programmer, and she’s like, Liz, and I’m like, Leslie, let’s co teach this. Let’s do this together. And I taught her some things about teaching, she taught me how to think like a programmer. And, you know, we had a lot of success together doing this. And I think it’s why I got tapped to go like LEED Oracle University is because I had shown that I was willing to work outside of my comfort zone and outside of my interest sound. Outside of the Passion zone. See, I think a lot of people.


Scott D Clary  26:34

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Liz Wiseman  27:28

What it was, but it wasn’t like I was doing it and sort of sacrificing myself on the altar of greater good. It was, it was as selfish as it was selfless. Because if someone is telling me, here’s what’s important. And if I want to do well in that system. Well, I don’t want to be the one who’s like, Hey, over here. You know what, let’s play this game. It’s like, actually, no, we’re playing soccer right now, Liz, and, you know, this is the goal that we’re shooting at now. I’m really good at tennis. You don’t want to be that one. And I think a lot of people are coming into though, the workforce sort of raised on. I don’t know, I think it’s sort of like dubious wisdom, that you know, what, hey, follow your passion, which is really good advice when it comes to I don’t know, picking a direction in your career, or what organization to work for, or what kind of organization to start, but like, once you join an organization, you know, you can follow your passion, to irrelevance inside that organization. And what I learned was like, you know, what, figure out what’s important and make it important to you. And opportunity after opportunity opens for me. And I remember like when the president of Oracle, he’s like, asked me if So I’m coming up through like education and learning and development. And he’s like, Listen, I have this big sales organization that we’re like building and I want you to go run it. And I’m like, I don’t know what thing about sales, he’s like, you’ll figure it out. And I didn’t take that job. But so many jobs were offered to me because I think I was willing to work where there was heat. And, you know, we find that these impact players are sort of heat seeking. They’re looking for hotspots, hot topics, hot projects. I don’t know hot takes like, Okay, here’s the issue, someone needs to come in and respond to that. So like to answer your question, Scott is, well, whose responsibility is it? Well, I think it kind of has to be this partnership. It’s, it’s, you know, if you want to be an impact player, someone who really makes a difference. You’ve got to be willing to work on what matters. You’ve got to be willing to be rangy with your responsibilities, you’ve got to be Can’t courageous, you’ve got to be able to practice what I call the naive, yes. Which is to say yes to something you don’t yet know how to do. But it’s important, and it’s something you should do. But it also takes leaders, like in this case, mine who says, You know what, here’s what’s important. Here’s where we need you. And, you know, leaders who, who point out what’s hot, you know, who’s kind of show people the heat map of the organization, and then leaders who permit I don’t know, that little scrappy path it takes to get good at something you’re not yet good at, or, you know, to be, I don’t know, leaders who allow you to invite yourself to meetings, which most of the important work I did at Oracle, were, were projects that nobody asked me to do. Actually, it was like me saying, I can do that. Like, I think I can make a difference here. Like, can I join the team?


Scott D Clary  30:58

Yeah, yeah, I want to I want you to also. So now we’ve alluded to it. And I think it’s very important, because you’ve done the research. And you’ve identified something that I think that everybody who’s ever worked in an organization, they can always point to who the impact players are. But it’s ultimately very difficult to define them any further than that person isn’t impact player, that person always seems to be in the right place at the right time in the organization. But what you’ve done is, throughout your research, and throw your career, you’ve defined the attributes of that particular person. So how do you define an impact player? How can we sort of unpack who that individual is more specifically, so we can wrap our minds around it and then, you know, through the lens of a business leader, or through the lens of an individual that just wants to be that individual? Because they know the positive results have been have on their career, there’s something more tangible to hold on to and to aspire to. So how do we actually define or how did you really define impact players? What was the research you did? How did you come to the conclusion? What are the traits, the habits that they have?


Liz Wiseman  32:08

Okay, well, you had me at research and only nerd out,


Scott D Clary  32:11

just go it just as much as you want, as much as you want. Because I think the way


Liz Wiseman  32:16

that my team and I did this research is important is what we did is I you know, I never in my research go out and decide like who is a multiplier, who’s a diminisher, or who’s an impact player or not. I asked the people who know, and in this case are managers. So we went out to nine organizations, all top employers, and we interviewed 170 managers inside of those companies. And we asked them to identify two types of contributors. One was someone who was smart, capable, hardworking and who’s doing fine. And we, you know, I call them ordinary contributors. They’re not low performers, by any stretch, they’re not even really average. They’re, they’re solid rock solid contributors. And we said, you know, identify one of those, and then identify someone who was, you know, equally smart, capable, hardworking, and perhaps no more smart, capable, or hardworking, who’s making a huge impact delivering work have extraordinary or inordinate kind of value compared to the team. Those are the impact players. And then we compared how they think what they do, the results they have, what they don’t do, and kind of built this behavioral profile. And here’s what we found. We found, I guess, maybe for starters, the impact players, the value that they contribute, was quantified by these managers as three and a half times greater than the rock solid contributors. Here’s what we learned. And maybe I can express it best by first describing how the managers described the rock solid contributors because they said things like, these were people who were, you know, smart, they’re capable, they did their job, they did their job, well, they, they followed direction, they were focused, they took responsibility. They carried their weight on teams. And as I’m looking at that profile of the 170, ordinary contributors, I’m like, Well, that seems pretty good that that seems like desirable, what you would want to hire, maybe the ideal team player. And here’s what I began to see as I looked at the contrast to these impact players, is that these ordinary contributors were absolutely stellar employees stellar talent, but they were stellar in ordinary times. And here’s the difference when things started to get ambiguous, chaotic, uncertain, messy. The impact players worked in very, very different ways like where other people would hold back around messy walk away from messy leave messy to the higher ups. This is where the impact players stepped. It was like their playground and their Proving Ground in some ways. And there were five of these situations that the impact players handled differently. The first is how they deal with messy problems. Where the ordinary contributor does their job, like they do their part, the impact player is doing the job that needs to be done. They’re like, well, that’s not my job. But like, you know, there’s like cleanup on aisle 12. Like, let me go there, or we there’s this new opportunity, I’m gonna go work, where there’s heat. The second is how they deal with unclear roles where the ordinary contributors when roles were unclear, and we find ourselves in these situations all the time. They would wait for direction, like, wait for somebody to put them in charge. wait for somebody to clarify roles. Like I hear this all the time. We can’t move forward on this because we’re waiting for role clarification. Well, while others are waiting for role clarification, or waiting for someone to appoint them, like, okay, no, you’re the you’re going to lead this. The impact players are just stepping into that space, they, they step up, they take charge, they offer their leadership, but probably the most important ideas they’re not. They’re not the kind of leaders who always have to be the leaders, they don’t always have to be the boss, they step up and lead they lead. But when they’re done, they they fall back, and they let other people lead. It looks, it works a lot like a flock of migrating geese. Like they take their turn leading, but they’re wheeling leaders. The third, big differentiators how they deal with unforeseen obstacles, you know, the kinds of things you can’t predict the kinds of things that are out of your control, and they’re, they’re bigger than you. And when these obstacles drop in our way. The ordinary contributors, you see, they take, they take responsibility. But when things get sort of above their pay grade, they escalate up, they hand off to higher ups, which is what so many large organizations kind of teach people to do and even small organizations like oh, yeah, yeah, when it gets really bad, like, that’s what the senior leaders are for. In the same cases, the impact players, they just hold on to responsibility all the way to the end. And it’s not like they go it alone. It’s that they stay. They stay responsible for something. And so instead of like handing to the Senior VP or to the founder, they’re like, hey, founder or senior VP, like, I need your help clearing this obstacle, but they don’t let go of the ownership of that they finished,


Scott D Clary  37:39

you’re gonna push that person to finish it or take care of it. And they’re gonna follow up when they haven’t heard back from that person in a couple of days. Right? I know exactly what you’re talking about. Because I’ve dealt with people that are not dealt with. That’s the wrong word worked with people, I had the luxury of working with people that are like this, and something gets passed up to me. And if I don’t action it right there on my ass. Like, they’re like,


Liz Wiseman  38:01

Yeah, you’re like, Hey, boss, you know what? And it’s, and here’s the thing that I’ve learned. So I want to interject. In this, we’ve got two more of these practices, I want to inject one of the things I’ve learned studying these impact players. And then also asking managers like, what is it that people do that you love? And what is it people that to on your team that you kind of hate that you resent? That makes your job hard? And yeah, here’s the thing I’ve learned. bosses don’t want to be bossy, like, managers hate managing people. And when they find someone who is self managing, even to the point of slightly annoying, as you said, kind of like, they’re on my tail like,


Scott D Clary  38:41

but you know, you know that you know that you actually value it in the moment, you’re like, Oh, my God, I have 1000 Other things to do. But realistically, it’s like, Thank you for making me for making me aware of all the things that I really do have to do. And for not letting me sleep on stuff. That’s so that’s so important. Like, you need to value those people because if not, then as a manager, you get overwhelmed with tasks. And you need somebody to hold everybody in somebody to hold them accountable. Always. So these people,


Liz Wiseman  39:06

like the management job, you know, in its nag version of the management job, like okay, let me give people work. Let me follow up, make sure it gets done, you know, check things off. Like, that’s a terrible job. Most people don’t want that job, have professional, high paid nag. Like managers want to leave and here’s the thing is like nobody really wants to be managed anymore. People want to self direct and that’s essentially what impact players are doing. They’re self managing, and self directing. But it’s like they they’re working independently of their boss, but they’re not working on an independent agenda. So like magic happens when a you understand the agenda of the organization. Hey, what’s important, what’s hot here? What’s valued, and I work on that agenda. But I do it independently. Hmm. Well, these are dreams like these are people like, yeah, how do I get a whole team of people who can self direct and self manage and do it in a way that doesn’t like leave? Broken Glass in their way?


Scott D Clary  40:17

What were some of the items on that list? You mentioned, you just mentioned a list of things that managers liked to see. And I think that there was a few items on that list. And I want to actually just put those on the record.


Liz Wiseman  40:29

Okay, I’m opening up the book. It’s an appendix of the book. And there’s, there’s 15 on each, I won’t I won’t share all 15. But do you want to start with what managers hate or with what managers love?


Scott D Clary  40:44

Let’s do what they hate first, and then we’ll finish off on a positive.


Liz Wiseman  40:48

Sure. So these are I consider these like credibility killers like these are a surefire way to infuriate your leaders, and to reduce your credibility and reduce your influence. These are influenced killers. Number one, give your boss problems without solutions. And, of course, you know, sometimes you have to go to your boss and say, Okay, I have a big problem here, and I don’t know how to fix it. But if that’s every conversation, it’s a credibility killer. Number two, wait for your boss to tell you what to do. Number three, make your boss chase you down and remind you what to do. Number four, don’t worry about the big picture, just do your piece. Number five, ask your boss about long. Oh, ask your boss about the next promotion or raise number six and long meandering emails and the list continues. But those are kind of


Scott D Clary  41:39

those are relatively annoying. I mean, like sometimes, like some of those things do have a place in the workplace. But I can see I like nonstop about asking about what to do next and not taking initiative and always asking you about the next raise like those are, those are very stressful things to deal with as a boss, when you have, again, 1000 other things you’re trying to deal with on a day to day, it’s the time in fact those conversations,


Liz Wiseman  42:02

but they’re all two standard workplace behavior. And, you know, so much of what organization, bureaucracy and culture gets created to incent people encourage people to work this way or to normal. I guess what I’m saying is I think a lot of organizations have normalized this behavior, either through bureaucracy, or through diminishing leaders who are like, Oh, no, no, no, you know, what, you just stay in your box.


Scott D Clary  42:31

Okay, manage too much and not leave basically have also encouraged this.


Liz Wiseman  42:35

Yeah. And if you manage, and micromanage, of course, and manage too much, you’re going to breed a mentality of ordinary contribution, which is I do my job. You know, I take responsibility, but when it’s tough, I hand up, and maybe I’ll just round out these last two things. You know, the fourth difference was how they deal with moving targets. And the ordinary contributor tends to just keep doing what they were asked to do, you know, like, Okay, this was my budget, this was my objective. Whereas when the world is shifting, the impact players are shifting with it. They’re, they’re adjusting, they’re adapting the, you know, they’re not, they’re not asking other people to change, like, they’re changing themselves, like, okay, I get it, we’re going in a different direction. Let me move that way. And the last difference is, you know, well, how we handle these unrelenting demands. And, you know, when, when the workload gets heavy and hard, like ordinary contributors, they tend to look for help, they ask for, you know, more, more resources, and then of adding to the burden of already overtaxed leaders. And what we find is that the impact players, they just make work light for everyone. They’re easy to work with, they’re low maintenance, they don’t do a lot of politics and drama. And what they do is they don’t engage in the Phantom workload, which just allows people to work on their real work. And they also found that they were fun and funny and light hearted and kind of light hearted about things that were actually, you know, rather serious. And, and it’s not that they’re mocking it is they’re just not taking themselves too seriously. And they create sort of this light air that allows people to like breathe and like, like, they just make hard work easier. And, you know, that’s one of the that’s one of the things that managers said they love. Let me find it on the list. I was gonna


Scott D Clary  44:38

say, you know, you mentioned the things that frustrate managers, but I feel like the things that managers love, just also are the the, the, the traits of impact players. I feel like most of those things are very easily correlated into the behaviors and habits that good managers and good leaders really do love.


Liz Wiseman  44:59

Absolutely. And I’ll share that list of what managers say they really love. But I think I want to emphasize something you said, Scott, is that managers love these impact players. And they don’t treat them like employees, they treat them like peers, or even like heroes. And these are people who have incredible respect from their leaders. They keep being given bigger responsibilities. They’re the people you trust, like in the critical moments, but they’re also beloved, broadly in the organization. When I started this research, I thought, oh, yeah, few of these. I bet these impact players, there’s gonna be a fair share of like, prima donnas, know it alls, like hey, I’m the star of the team. Everyone knows it. I know it. And we couldn’t find a single person who worked this way. They were people everyone loved on the team. Because they were delightful to work with. They got things done. Yeah, so they really are loved. Okay. Scott, here, are you ready for the list? Go, let’s do it. Here are the things that managers love. These are credibility and influence builders, number one, do things without being asked, anticipate problems and have a plan to solve them. Number three, help your teammates do a little extra. And so they weren’t like they were doing this, like, above and beyond heroic things, it would be like they create do an analysis. And, you know, send it to people and take the time to say, Oh, and by the way, you know what? Here’s an executive summary with like a two minute overview. Like, oh, thank you, like, I wasn’t expecting that. But a little bit extra. Number five, be curious and ask good questions. Number six, ask for feedback. This is like if you want to really increase your impact, like ask for feedback before someone has a chance to give it to you. It just makes all of your colleagues like nobody really likes giving feedback. But if you say hey, you know what one thing I could do to improve improve that presentation. You know, what, what’s one thing that would make this report easier to read, then you’re just gathering intel that’s allowing you to increase the value of your work. And you’re making it so easy for people to direct you to high performance.


Scott D Clary  47:24

I love that. We’ve already we’ve gone over some I could honestly lose, I could go. We could go for like another hour on this because No, no lie. Like candidly, I think we’ve gone into like the first quarter of the talking points that I had for you. So there’s so much good stuff out of this. There’s so we’re gonna have to do another one in the future.


Liz Wiseman  47:44

For you part two.


Scott D Clary  47:47

This is very good. I want to I want to I want to, I want to give you just a moment for some closing thoughts, because I don’t want to I don’t want to dive into a new topic. Now. I want to give you some, you know, just some closing thoughts on impact players. Some, I guess, some words of wisdom to give over to the audience before we close out. And then and then I have just a question that I asked everyone at the end of every show. But some last words on some of the most important things to take out of your work about impact players about what they mean for organizations. If you want somebody to just take one thing away from this, all the research that you’ve done, what would that be?


Liz Wiseman  48:32

Here’s what I think is here’s what I think is important right now, in this moment in time that we find ourselves in, you know, organizations are dealing with burnout, managers are dealing with burnt out staff members, you know, if you don’t feel burnt out, maybe you know someone close to you is burnout. Like we’ve got this epidemic people say I’m we’re working really hard, I’m really tired. And I think it’s so easy for us to to conclude right now that people burn out because they’re tired people burn out because they’re working too much. And then we go to solutions like, Okay, let’s take our foot off the accelerator, let’s do less. And everything in my research, whether it’s studying top leaders or studying top contributors, points to a different explanation. Yeah, it’s possible to burnout because we’re working. Our workload is too heavy. But more often than not people burn out not because they have too much work but because they’re having too little impact. Meaning like working hard, but actually being intellectually underutilized, working hard, but not making a difference like working hard, but on things that don’t really matter. And I think we should look at burnout through this lens of you know, people crave impact. People want to be utilized. People want to do a great job. How do we help people not work? More who know, but not also regrets, like how do we help people increase their impact for the time that they’re spending working. And I think we will find that that creates energy, rather than then takes energy away. And in some ways, for managers, you don’t have to change out your team and hire a bunch of impact players, maybe you just help people understand these distinctions. You know, the difference between, you know, doing your job versus doing the job that needs to be done and etc, and maybe just give people permission to work this way. I think it’s how people want to work. But we’ve learned not to


Scott D Clary  50:44

be very smart. I want to I want to give the audience the opportunity to go check out everything that you’ve worked on all of your all of the books you’ve written, all of your social, where should they go?


Liz Wiseman  50:57

Oh, to see all the books or go to the Wiseman And I think there’s like a maybe a tab for each of the books or you can go to Amazon type in Liz Wiseman and there’ll be a few things pop up there, including multipliers, Rookie Smarts impact players. Okay, good.


Scott D Clary  51:15

Perfect. Okay, that’s all going shownotes. And then the last question that I asked everyone, obviously, you’ve had an incredible career, both as an executive at Oracle plus, after the factor, you’ve written tons of books, and you’ve influenced probably hundreds of 1000s, if not millions of people. After you look at what you’ve achieved in your career, what does success mean to you?


Liz Wiseman  51:39

Well, I think success. Mean, one level of success are sort of the hygiene factors is that you know, you you have enough resources coming in from your work, that you’re not constantly worried about work and about life like that your basics in life are taken care of like, to me success is not about being wealthy or rich. It’s about like, I have what I need in life. And then once you have what you need, it’s, I find joy in my work, and I feel very, very successful because I have what I need. And I find incredible joy and meaning in the work that I do. And so to me, like that’s successful, and I think a lot of people have achieved that but don’t think they’re successful.


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