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Capitalize On Your Teams Genius


In January I wrote about the importance of mental flexibility, learning to adjust, adapt, and mold to the culture, environments, and needs of your team. How about we take this to the next level?


Traditionally we have developed job roles and responsibilities and then hired individuals to fit into those walls. What if this concept was turned on its head? What if we hired great people with a variety of inherent skills, passions, and drive, and then delineated responsibilities that capitalized on those strengths? This requires looking at projects as a whole and not siloed parts.


Now stay with me for a moment. Patrick Lencioni’s work around Working Genius is well... genius! He has simplified our inherent “geniuses” into 6 areas: Wonder, Invention, Discernment,, Galvalizing, Enablement, and Tenacity. The thought is that if we can develop teams that represent each one of these areas and simultaneously invite individuals to participate and work within their area of natural strength not only will the team thrive but also improve productivity and individual satisfaction.The goal is to have each piece of the inherent genius pie represented on every project/ team.




These geniuses also work in an organized systematic way through innovation and creation of a project. For example, before nailing down the details of implementation (tenacity) it is important to brainstorm all potential opportunities and ideas (wonder).


Here is an overview of the six working geniuses:



Imagine the confines of a job description were wiped away and you could pull in the people who were brilliant at conceptualizing innovation to brainstorm together. Imagine if you hired your next employee based on your team needs to leverage natural talent. You would work from a platform and vocabulary which pull people together and clarify where in the process you are and which talents you need to highlight for success.


Having a common language is crucial on many fronts but what is brilliant about this concept is that it brings clarity to the conversation. Someone who has a working genius of tenacity may be in a brainstorming session and feel anxious since they are further down the line and thinking about resources, how they will complete the task, deadlines, and detail ect. In this scenario, you have the opportunity to clarify where in the process you are and what genius is needed at this time (wonder and or Invention).


The Working Genius has a quick assessment your team can take to identify and describe your natural skills. Your team can then use this as a working tool to capitalize on strengths and leverage learnings.


I am consistently amazed at how many talents go unrecognized. As a leader, it is your job to know your team and position people in a way that not only utilizes geniuses but catapults your business towards success.


How do you think it would feel if you could say to your colleague “Sarah, I would you join us at this next meeting, I know your working genius is that of galvanizing and we are struggling to get this project off the ground and we would love to utilize your wisdom and energy.”


Sarah will not only feel acknowledged, appreciated, and valued, but she will undoubtedly rise to the occasion and surpass your expectations.


Home run!


Why are we limiting talent to a job description? Your team has so much more to offer if you can let up on the reigns and create some flexibility within your team.


My Challenge to You:

  • Listen to this short podcast by Patrick Lencioni, if you were not convinced you will be.

  • Try it, take the assessment here, and commit to learning more about your team and what brilliance lays beneath or behind the job description.

  • Ask yourself, where do you feel like a dog on a bone? What tasks or projects get you fired up and excited to do more? This is your area of working genius!

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