Notes from a great talk by Liz Wisemen at Stanford Entrepreneurial School.

Is there a danger in knowing too much. A danger to our companies, teams, and innovation.
How does what we know, get in the way of what we don’t know, but perhaps need to learn.
Is it possible that really smart leaders don’t create smart organizations.
That really smart leaders can shut down intelligence, and brilliance, and innovation.

Want to explore the power of being a rookie.
And the power of inquiry.
Explore the power of not knowing.

Experience creates a number of troubling blind spots.
You build up scar tissue – reminder of not to do certain things.
Then when someone new comes along and suggests something that brushes your scars you instinctively reject that idea and say no. We already tried that.

You need a deliberate ritual to get back to your roots.

Bob Hurley tells this story of once meeting Wayne Barthoromyy (Rabbit – reigning world champ from Australian) on Huntington beach, and asking him why he wasn’t surfing where the good waves are. Wayne replied that he liked surfing with kids because that’s where he gets his energy.

So he goes out and surfs with the amateurs. He seeks out the newcomers. Recent college grads, and just hangs out.

Can smart leaders create dumb teams?
Why are we so smart and capable around some, but not others?

Diminishers believe that because they are the boss, they must know better.
Since they are management, they conclude they are the smartest ones on the team.
Therefore my job is to tell, instruct, micromanage.

Multipliers do it differently. They ask questions. They also have hard edge.
They are demanding. They have a hard edge.
They have high expectations.
They challenge. They have become really comfortable asking others to become uncomfortable.
They let you suffer a bit. They let you squirm.

Diminishers operate from a place of knowledge. Their knowledge. They tend to be empire builders. Tyrants. Creating anxiety, stress, micromanagers.

Multiples operate from a belief that people around me are smart. I hired them smart. They are talent magnets. They give accountable to others. They operate from a place of inquiry.

Most of the diminishing done in companies is done with the best of intentions.
People who think they are doing a good job.
The idea guy who spouts ideas.
Or the always on leader.
Or the rescuer. The leader who doesn’t like seeing others suffer.
Or the pace setter. Who sets the pace hoping others will follow.
But instead they don’t. They walk. Because they’re not winning.
Because it’s not fun when you can’t keep up with the boss.

How might you be shutting down intelligence and capability?

One of the most powerful shifts you can make is shifting from knowing to inquiry.
You need to be able to ask the right questions that share the burden with the team.

The best leaders not only give pats on the back, they give a push and get their people into the uncomfortable areas.

It’s irresponsible to let your team suffer.
But you need to remember to give the pen back. (50:47)